Guandu con Arroz

Guandu are pigeon peas, and very popular in Panama. Guandu con arroz (with rice) is a traditional Christmas dish, so guandu are very expensive around that time. Many people grow them in their yards, including a number of my neighbors (the picture above is a guandu flower across the street). My neighbors say they come in green, black, and speckled. Haydeé, my Panamanian friend and cooking instructor, says the black ones have the best flavor and she usually uses the green ones in soup.

Haydeé came over yesterday, and our main objective was for her to teach me how too cook guandu con arroz. It’s not very complicated, but we have a lot of fun and I’m happy to see how she does things.

I had a bag of guandu, maybe 1/2 pound, and an equal amount of rice, or maybe a bit more. She started by putting oil in the pot, turning it up fairly hot, and then adding the guandu. She stirred it in the oil until it was sizzling and hot. Then she added the rice and continued to stir until it sizzled. Then, she added water, it seemed enough to cover and a couple more inches. This was left to cook with the cover on until the water was all absorbed, maybe 20 minutes.

Next, she added salt, some more oil, and some more water, maybe 1/2 cup. It was like a generous sprinkle to moisten everything well. This all was stirred and left to cook (covered) for 10 more minutes.

That’s it! Done and ready to eat. It made a lot but she insisted she wasn’t taking any to her house. It could wait in the fridge where it would be ready for a quick warmup in a frying pan for another meal. There seemed to be quite a bit more rice than guandu since the rice expands a lot when cooked, so I might adjust the ratios next time just because I don’t eat a lot of carbs, especially white ones. But, I certainly think it tastes good and so does my husband. Haydeé says it’s even better with pork so we’ll have to try that too sometime.

Extra guandu con arroz ready to store in the fridge.

Extra guandu con arroz ready to store in the fridge.

I have a feeling we will be growing guandu here next year. It is planted when the rains start again (beginning of April) and starts producing before Christmas, and is still producing now. The plants look like shrubs maybe 6-8 feet high with lovely yellow or yellow/purple flowers. Pretty things in the yard that also produce food sound like a good idea to me.

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About Kris Cunningham

We live in David, Chiriqui Provence, Republic of Panama! This blog is about some of our experiences in our new country.
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12 Responses to Guandu con Arroz

  1. Gene Bramblett says:

    Kris,

    I agree with you on the “white carbs”. I bet this would be as delicious with brown rice!

    Gene

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  2. I Love this cooking series you posted today! Lucky you that you have such a nice neighbor who is willing to share her cooking skills with you! I hope we are that fortunate someday . Now I’m hungry! Keep the cooking classes coming! Cheers!

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    • kristc99 says:

      Thank you 🙂 I’m sure you’ll make friends and learn a lot from them too. The Panamanians seem happy when that you are interested in their country and ways of doing things, and glad to help you learn new things.

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  3. Hey Kris,

    Yeah, my family loves arroz con guandu too. You should have seen my trying to figure out what guandu was in Anchorage, Alaska. My mom-in-law wanted to cook for us. I’d eaten it before in Panama, but I wasn’t sure what it was. And back then the internet wasn’t what it is now, so I couldn’t figure out what it was. I bought a piece of ñame in Anchorge (ñame is a root used a lot in soups here) at an organic food store. A piece of ñame that might cost $1 here cost I think $7. For one piece of root.

    Panama’s a hard place to watch your carbs isn’t it? I’m beginning stages diabetic, so I really have to watch what I eat. My family eats rice with everything. So I’m usually the oddball eating only hard boiled eggs for breakfast, or chicken with steamed vegetables from the bag of frozen broccoli, cauliflower, and carrots I pick up at Pricesmart.

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    • kristc99 says:

      LOL I’d never heard of guandu either before coming here, or name, or yucca, or a number of things I have learned about here. When I see something new at the produce stand I usually buy a bit to try. Sometimes I find something good, or sometimes I have to go to my neighbor and ask – how do you cook this because whatever I did can’t be the right thing!
      I have cut wheat and sugar out of my diet (I struggle to control my weight). I can eat wheat and put on 2-3 pounds overnight! I generally don’t eat rice either, and try to limit potatoes and other starchy root veggies though these don’t seem to cause quite as much trouble. But yes, there are a lot of carb temptations here, but probably just as many in the US too.

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  4. Amba says:

    It’s interesting how this dish is almost identical to an Indian dish-Rice Pulao. Looks yummy Kris! Also, one of my blogger friends told me that if you make sure your plate has 1/3rd carbs, veggies and proteins, each, you should be good to go! Since you’ve covered the first two, maybe you could add some fish or chicken as a side dish to make it a healthy meal 🙂

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    • kristc99 says:

      Yep, actually we’ve made a recent trip to the fish market so we had fish the first night, and chicken last night. There is so much good food here that I think if I limit the rice and carbs, and get plenty of exercise, hopefully I can stay healthy and not outgrow my jeans!

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  5. indacampo says:

    I grabbed some seeds off some bushes around town but I still haven’t decided where to plant them. The bushes grow quite large and are very pretty but we’re running out of planting space in our little yard! 🙂

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    • kristc99 says:

      I know what you mean! Our neighbor across the back fence has a lot for sale two doors down from us. She is using it as a guandu garden at the moment, but I could buy it and make it into our garden! (kidding, don’t think i want to own property here, but who knows?) Probably though, our front yard will be a guandu garden because there are so many fruit trees in the back yard. It will be interesting to see what this place looks like in a couple years as I find more things to grow.

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  6. pat says:

    I would love to hear about any fruit you are finding in Panama, and also fish! thanks for the post on the guando. I am researching for a potential move in the next 3 years.

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