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Traditional Guyanese foods to make at home

Updated: Jul 20, 2023

While adapting to ‘the new normal’, people all around the world are taking a more sustainable approach to the way they do things. This includes the way we eat. Instead of dining out or ordering take-out, many people are opting to create their own culinary masterpieces at home. They’re enlisting the aid of cookbooks, online recipes and videos posted on social media. Some people are even sharing recipes with their own twist!

One of the best ways to learn about any culture is through its food. That is certainly true for Guyana. Our culturally infused cuisine is steeped in a rich history that will find favour with even the pickiest of taste buds. So keep reading, we’ve outlined five delicious Guyanese dishes (and some tasty sides) that you can create right in the comfort of your own home.


Imagine a pot filled with different kinds of meat, traditional spices, seasonings and peppers all slow-cooked in cassareep - a sweet thick sauce derived from the bitter cassava root. This is pepperpot, a traditional indigenous Guyanese dish. The distinct, mouth-watering smell of the spices intricately blended with your choice of beef, pork, lamb or even chicken and

cassareep is a classic Guyanese Christmas morning delight. Traditionally eaten with fresh homemade bread, pepperpot is also eaten with cassava bread - another traditional indigenous dish. Due to the slow-cooked nature of this dish, and the preservation qualities of the cassareep used, one legend has it that the Georgetown Club had a pepperpot going for 75 years!

Photo credits: Backyard Cafe

Interested in making your own? Just visit Alicia’s Pepperpot - a blog dedicated to the amazing Caribbean inspired recipes.

Kalounjie (Stuffed Bitter Melons)

Bitter melons, also known as corilla in Guyana, are an acquired taste for many. However, the distinct bitter flavour is a favourite among quite a few Guyanese, especially when served with a side of dhal, rice and salted fish. However, Kalounjie is an even bigger cult favourite. Also known as Stuffed Bitter Melon, Kalounjie is cut, seeded then stuffed and roasted or baked to perfection with salted fish or shrimp. It is most popular among the Indo-Guyanese community, however, everyone with a taste for this unique dish indulges.

If you want to make your own, check out this recipe on Guyana Dining.

Photo credits: Backyard Cafe

Metemgee (Metagee, Metem)

Who doesn’t love ground provisions? Metemgee, a savoury one-pot dish filled with root vegetables like cassava, eddoes, and sweet potatoes, simmered in sweet yet spicy coconut milk is an absolute favourite. Passed on from our Afro-Guyanese ancestors, this is a hearty meal, similar to “oil down” from Grenada and Trinidad. You can opt to include other vegetables like corn, ochro (okra) or even pak choi to your batch. Dumplings are also included for an extra kick! This can be served with a side of salted fish, fried fish or even boiled eggs.

Photo credits: Visit Guyana

For a really awesome recipe, check out this One Pot Series here.

Cook-up Rice

Cook-up is a Guyanese staple. It is prepared and served year-round in most households. On Old Year’s Day (the last day of the year), it is a tradition. While it is uncertain why this tradition is so dominant, what we do know is that it is delicious! It takes skill and practice to perfect this dish but the final product is always excellent, with distinct tastes

varying from household to household. From the peas--black-eyed, red beans, split peas--to the combination of salted or fresh meat, coconut milk, rice and fresh herbs and seasonings,your taste buds will thank you. It doesn’t have to be so complex though, you can tone it down by using only one type of vegetable and just chicken or beef. Whatever you decide though, know that you’ll enjoy it.

For Guyanese-styled Cook-up recipes, check this blog out.

Garlic Pork

Garlic pork is a pickled meat dish brought to Guyanese cuisine from Portuguese settlers. It is popularly enjoyed on Christmas morning with warm bread. Pork meat is chopped then seasoned with generous amounts of garlic, pepper, and fresh or dried thyme. The meat is set in a brine for 4 days or more to pickle. When ready to cook, the brine is discarded and the meat is cooked in its own fat until

Photo credits: Backyard Cafe

browned, but tender. It has a tangy, garlicky flavour that we’re sure you’ll find delightful!

Want to try? Go here.

For more traditional Guyanese dishes, check out this cookbook - Tastes Like Home: My Caribbean Cookbook by Cynthia Nelson. Tap into your culinary skills and try one, or a few then let us know how well they turned out!

Travel Better in Guyana

In Guyana, we recognise that we have a responsibility to protect and conserve our spectacular natural and cultural treasures. We’re equally blessed that so many of our visitors want to lend a hand in doing so. To find out what you can do to help, please check out our Visitor Guidelines For Sustainable Travel. We look forward to welcoming you to Guyana when it’s safe to travel again.

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