Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Amazonian Cuisine in Ecuador - Traditional Delicacies of the Jungle

Each region has its own gastronomic tradition, their own ways of preparing food and specific cuisine.

In Ecuador’s Amazonic region the food is made from the products of the jungle.

They are the result of the work of indigenous men and women, earned from hunting, fishing and working the land.

The popular dishes consumed are maito de tilapia or carachama,

The fish is wrapped in leaves that are tied and then cooked over fire or coal.

Chonta or cassava chicha, together with wayusa, are the drinks that accompany the variety of delicious foods of the region.

Among the many rarities, distinctive for the zone, you can taste the giant ants, which are eaten alive.

There are also the chonta kurus or palm grubs, which are beetle larvae with delicious coconut flavor.

These larvae are fried in its own fat or made into maito.

The dishes are full of jungle vegetables and fruits, exotic to the eye but delicious for the palatal.

Definitely the Ecuadorian Amazon has its charms and surprises in the food.

Everyone is invited to visit it and to enjoy its craziest recipes and great taste!

Maitos or Dishes Cooked Inside Leaves

One of the places you need to visit is the town of Archidona and its Plazoleta de Comidas Típicas or Traditional Food Course in the center of the town.

It can be found right next to the Town Hall, at the main road.

The cooking of food in banana, bijao or achira leaf, isn’t specific to one area of Ecuador.

However, there is a special dish cooked inside the leaves that causes sighs: maito de tilapia.

Tilapia is a warm water fish and therefore does well in the Ecuadorian Amazon.

Its white meat is cleaned with lemon and seasoned with salt, garlic and onion.

Then it is wrapped in bijao leaves and grilled slowly until it has cooked in its own juices.

When it is finished the diner receives the dish with foil of bijao, ready to be unwrapped.

Inside the leaves you will find a perfectly spiced fish with firm white flesh that melts in your mouth with every bite.

It is a delicious and healthy dish, accompanied with boiled or fried yucca and salad.

Of course a tasty plate of hot sauce, or ají, can never miss from the table.

To drink, maito de tilapia is best accompanied with cold wayusa, a beverage from a plant that bears the same name, which grows in eastern Ecuador.

Besides being tasty, this drink is a symbol of the Amazonian culture, flavors and natural wealth.

Maitos Mama Eliza

Maitos Mama Eliza is one of the establishments that can be found at the Plazoleta.

It has a long history and the food they cook is exquisite.

There are many things in Ecuador that I love, and one of them, besides the food, is the people and how loving and friendly they are.

Years ago I was invited by Archidona’s former mayor’s wife to visit Maitos Mama Eliza.

She told me that it had the best traditional food in Archidona and especially the best chonta kurus you could find.

It was the first time I ever ate chonta kurus and I must admit, it was not love at first bite.

But I did fall in love with their maito de tilapia or traditional fish dish.

The restaurant is family owned and Mama Eliza is the matriarch, she is a charming kichwa lady who has a magical touch when it comes to food.

Everything is cooked with love by the extensive family and served by family members also.

They are sure to put the secret ingredient, love, into your plate to make it taste extra special.

Remember to try the maito de tilapia with wayusa.

And if you are feeling adventurous, chonta kuru kebabs or pinchos.


  1. Looks fresh and healthy too! No Worries when there is good healthy food, Joanna.
    God Bless and thanks for sharing your heart here.

  2. Hi Joanna,
    My husband has taken groups on tours to the Amazon several times over the years.I feel transported to the Amazon by the photos and descriptions of Amazonian cuisine. I am especially intrigued by the cooking of food in banana, bijao or achira leaf Thank you for sharing this with us at the Healthy, Happy, Green and Natural Party Blog Hop! I’m pinning and sharing!