Ecuador is one of the most megadiverse countries in South America and this is reflected in its landscapes, its places, its people, its culture and of course in its gastronomy.
As the country is divided into 4 regions: Coast, Highlands, Amazon and Galapagos. Its visitors can get to know 4 different worlds. Each one with its own characteristics. Thus, in each of these regions you can find exquisite and varied dishes.
In this post you will learn about the typical food of Ecuador and for sure you will want to try them!
The Highlands of Ecuador, the region of the Andes Mountains. This region of the country is characterized for its impressive mountainous elevations, volcanoes and snow-capped peaks. Its climate, depending on the area, can be warm, temperate or cold. Therefore, cereals and tubers such as potatoes predominate.
Some of the typical dishes of the inter-Andean region are:
This delicious dish is representative of Cotopaxi province. Its name translates in the indigenous Quechua language as “chest-foot-skin”. The dish is characterized by the pork skin burst. It is served with mote and chicharrón, boiled potatoes, fried maduro, tostado, canguil and mejido empanadas that have a sweet flavor. And of course the chili cannot be missing.
Locro de papa
This traditional Quito soup is characterized for being a creamy potato soup garnished with cheese and avocado. And of course it comes with chili and a portion of chulpi with pork rinds. “El locro de papa” is a great reference of the gastronomic cultural heritage of the country. It is also a dish that represents the fusion between Ecuadorian and Spanish cuisine.
This dish is of indigenous origin, typical of the province of Carchi, it is made with baked pork. Its special flavor is due to the salty broth made with seasoning, onions, garlic, salt and chili. The name of the dish is due to the cultural influence of the Pasto people who inhabited this area before the Spanish conquest.
This traditional dish from the Ecuadorian highlands is served mostly in the provinces of Azuay, Tungurahua, Chimborazo and Cotopaxi. The guinea pig meat can be served fried, roasted or grilled. Also the dish is accompanied by potatoes, corn grits and salad. Depending on the restaurant it can be served whole with head and feet, or sliced without head and feet.
Entering the Amazon rainforest is like entering a new world. Its spectacular landscapes will leave you amazed and its exotic food even more so. The gastronomy of this region of Ecuador combines freshwater fish, plants, herbs, fruits and yucca. But also some of the native inhabitants include in their diet insects and other types of meat such as turtle, snake and even tapir.
Here are some of the most representative dishes of the tropical rainforest:
This dish is one of the most famous in the Amazon. The name “maito” comes from the northern Quechua language meaning “wrapped”.
Its delicious preparation consists of a mixture of different ingredients, including fish, palm heart, green plantain and yucca, wrapped in a bijao or kwan panga leaf. According to the province you are in, the ingredients may vary. For example, it can be fish, poultry, frogs, or chontacuros (chonta worms).
Casabe de yuca
This dish is representative of the province of Sucumbios, especially of the Siona and Secoya communities. It is generally a preparation made by women. The dish consists of a thin dough tortilla that is obtained from freshly grated cassava. Its particular flavor is due to the fact that the yucca is harvested minutes before the preparation.
Among all the delicious dishes of the province of Morona Santiago, the Ayampaco is one of the most famous and popular. This dish arises from the intervention of the settlers who came to the Amazon region, and incorporates ingredients such as: chili, palm heart, garlic, salt and spices to the traditional “maito”.
Thus, the Ayampaco is a bijao leaf wrapper stuffed with fish or meat of different types with yucca, chili, garlic and other natural seasonings.
This singular worm grows on the Chonta tree in eastern Ecuador. Certainly, this small insect is fundamental in the diet of the Amazon natives.
Locals affirm that eating this worm has many benefits. For example, it is very effective in relieving many illnesses. Cough, flu, bronchitis.
We now move on to the Insular region of the country. The Galapagos Islands, a natural paradise, a place where you can admire all the natural beauty and wildlife. And of course you can’t miss trying its most representative dish, the canchalagua ceviche.
The “canchalagua” is a mollusk formed by a shell-shaped shell. The dish is accompanied by rice and canguil. This dish is especially typical of San Cristobal Island.
Finally, the culinary delights of the Coast region of Ecuador, the place with the most beautiful beaches and tropical climate. Here you can taste exquisite dishes based on seafood, green, coconut and peanuts.
Some of the most outstanding dishes of the Coast are:
Encebollado is one of the most traditional and most loved soups of the Ecuadorian people. This soup consists of fish, tuna or albacore, cooked with yucca and onion. In addition it is served with chifles, bread or rice. Depending on the taste of each consumer you can add lemon, mustard, tomato sauce.
This delicious dish is well known for being the recipe that cures the “chuchaqui” (hangover) after a night of fun and dancing.
Ceviche, a must try dish, this exquisite preparation is popular in the coasts of South America. Each country has its unique variations of ceviche. So Ecuadorian ceviche is served in all its presentations: shell ceviche, fish ceviche (usually white meat), crab ceviche, squid ceviche. Ceviches are served with patacones, chifles or salted popcorn.
Encocado, the typical dish from Esmeraldas, owes its name because of its main ingredient, coconut. The dish consists of seafood, fish, bathed in coconut milk. This exquisite dish, also called “encocao”, has its origins in ancestral recipes that come from the African continent.
There are different variations of encocado, for example, you can use fish, shrimp, shells and other seafood, typical of the coastal region of the country.
Drinks and Beverages From Ecuador
The delicious Canelazo typical of Quito city. This drink is a must during the celebrations of the capital in the month of December. It is characterized for being a hot drink made with naranjilla fruit juice, blackberry can also be used. After that it is mixed with sugar, boiled cinnamon water and the special touch of cane alcohol.
Chicha is a beverage, derived from corn, that can be fermented or unfermented. As a result, there are two types of Chicha, the one that includes corn beer is known as chicha de jora. The chicha that doesn’t have alcohol is the purple chicha.
In the past, the preparation of this drink consisted of chewing and spitting the yucca for its fermentation. But today only certain communities make this process.
- Colada morada
This singular purple and thick drink is a combination of fruits and spices typical of Ecuador. This drink is traditional for the “Day of the Dead”. The drink includes fruits such as: naranjilla, pineapple, strawberry, babaco, guava, blackberry or mortiño. It also contains a series of herbs and aromatic barks, such as cinnamon, cloves, ishpingo, sweet pepper, orange leaf, lemon verbena and others.
This drink is made from the leaves of the guayusa tree that grows in the Ecuadorian Amazon. Consequently, it is a drink that has energetic, antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
Surely you wanted to try these delights! Come and have the opportunity to taste the typical food in Ecuador. As they say “Full belly, happy heart”. You can also check this link to know the gastronomic map of Ecuador.