Every country has their Christmas food traditions. My family is from Guyana, and they brought the food traditions with them to Canada. Over the years, Christmas became more of a blend of Guyanese and North American foods, so by the time my sister and I were born, we got the best of both worlds!
I split my “Welcome to a Guyanese Christmas meal” posts into two for two reasons; one is because of length, and the other is to offer up some great gluten-free, vegan Guyanese dishes that can be used to supplement your Christmas meal. The two main traditional Guyanese Christmas dishes are meat based, so the recipes obviously won’t be found here!
One of the beauties of Guyanese food is that it doesn’t cost a fortune to pull together a complex and delicious tasting meal.
Here are four recipes that you may find a welcome addition to your holiday or New Year’s feast! To make all four of them will take you less than two hours!
- Bhaji (spinach) and rice
- Baked plantain chips
- Dhal (Spicy lentil or split-pea soup)
- Vegan chow mein
Bhaji (Spinach) and rice
- Makes: 4-5 servings
- Total time: 30 minutes, cook time: 20 minutes, prep time: 10 minutes
- 1 cup of basmati rice
- 3 bunches of spinach, chopped
- 3 large tomatoes, diced
- 5 cloves garlic, chopped
- 2 tablespoons sunflower oil
- 1 teaspoon of brown sugar
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Cook rice according to the package.
- Heat oil in a large pan on medium heat.
- Add the tomatoes and garlic and cook until they are soft.
- Add spinach and toss until thoroughly mixed with the tomatoes. Cook for 5 minutes then add sugar, salt, and pepper. Increase to high heat and let cook for a few minutes. Stir frequently to ensure even cooking.
- When all the water is gone, and the spinach is dark green, it’s finished.
- Serve with the rice.
Baked plantain chips snack or appetizer
- Makes: 1 serving
- Total time: 20 minutes, cook time: 12-15 minutes, prep time: 5 minutes
- 2 ripe plantains peeled and cut into small slices
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- Dash of cayenne pepper
- Mix ingredients together and pour over raw plantains. Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for approximately 12 minutes. Check after 8 minutes and remove from oven.
Dhal (Spicy lentil or split-pea soup)
- Makes: 6 servings
- Total time: 1 and a half hours, cook time: 1 hour and 10 minutes, prep time: 20 minutes
- 8 cups of water
- 3/4 cup yellow split peas or lentils (the lentils will take less time to cook)
- 1 tablespoon garam masala
- 2 tablespoon curry powder
- 1 tablespoon turmeric
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 1/4 teaspoon salt (or more or less, depending on your salt preference)
- 2 garlic cloves
- 1 medium onion
- 1 small tomato
- 1 teaspoon whole cumin seeds
- 1 tablespoon of sunflower oil
- 1-3 habanero or wiri-wiri peppers, depending on how hot you like it, omit the pepper if you don’t want it spicy
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- Rinse split peas or lentils and set them aside.
- Chop onion, garlic, tomato, and habanero or wiri-wiri peppers.
- Bring 8 cups of water to a boil (can be done at the same time you are doing steps 1 and 2).
- Add split peas or lentils, onion, garlic, tomato, peppers and olive oil (if using) to boiling water.
- Add spices and salt (I like a bit more salt in my food, so I start with 1 teaspoon and add more if needed).
- Boil peas for 45 minutes until peas are soft to the touch (lentils will take 25-30 minutes). Blend with hand blender to achieve a smooth texture. Return to a slow boil for another 15-20 minutes until it gets slightly thick.
- Turn heat off when you have reached your desired texture.
- In a small pot or pan, heat oil and fry the cumin seeds until they become slightly burnt. Immediately add it to the dhal. Important: Be careful to cover the pot as you add the fried cumin seeds, as the hot oil will steam out when it hits the water based liquid.
Vegan chow mein
Makes: 4-6 servings
Total time: 30 minutes, cook time: 15 minutes, prep time: 15 minutes
Note: Traditional Guyanese veggie chow mein doesn’t have tofu, but I’m all for extra protein, especially in a carb dish.
- 1 package of brown or white rice spaghetti noodles broken into small pieces (to resemble chow mein noodles) if you’re not gluten-free use regular chow mein noodles
- 2 packages of hard tofu, cubed
- 1 small onion, thinly sliced
- 2.5 tablespoons of sunflower oil
- 2 cups of mixed bell peppers, thinly sliced
- 1 carrot, thinly sliced
- 1 cup green beans, cut into 2-inch pieces
- 1 cup fresh sweet corn
- 1/2 head of broccoli, chopped
- 1/2 head of cauliflower, chopped
- 1/3 green cabbage, thinly shredded
- 5 heads of green onions, finely chopped
For the tofu
- 1 tablespoon cassareep or tamari sauce (gluten-free soy sauce)
- 3 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1 teaspoon brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon mustard
- 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
- Follow the instructions on the package to cook the noodles.
- Season the tofu with ingredients above and let marinate for about 5 minutes. Prepare the vegetables. Then in a skillet large enough for the noodles, warm oil on medium heat.
- Add the onions and cook until they are brown and soft. Then increase heat to high.
- Add the tofu and vegetables, except for peppers, and cook for about 5 minutes.
- Add the peppers and cook for 3 minutes. Peppers should be crunchy after cooking. Then add the cabbage and the noodles.
- Toss together then add chopped scallions.
- Remove from heat.
I hope you find some of these recipes enjoyable if you get a chance to make them sometime over the holidays!