Referred to as the ‘Pabellon Nacional’, the flag of Guatemala depicts the national coat of arms and the national bird of Guatemala – the quetzal – which symbolises liberty. The blue and white represents how Guatemala is located between two oceans. The parchment holds the date upon which Guatemala achieved independence from Spain in 1821.
Time 1.30 hrs
Effort 6/10
Rough cost £5
Capital Guatemala City
Population 17,263,239 (67th largest)
Land mass 108,889 km2 (105th largest)
Languages Spanish
Religions88% Christianity


Guatemala is the most populous country in Central America, bordered by Mexico, Belize, Honduras, El Salvador, and the Caribbean + Pacific Ocean. In ancient times, Guatemala was the heart of Mayan civilisation but fell under Spanish rule in the 16th century. Following the release of colonial rule, Guatemala fell into a period of civil turmoil and war. The nation has made progress in the 21st cent.

The culture of Guatemala is one with rich and diverse influences – as is its cuisine! Mwara made Pepian – a rich stew which is classically made with chicken however, we used tofu. The dish is a tasty fusion of the Mayan and Spanish heritage of Guatemala. The dish was really fun to make and the process of dry roasting the veg added great extra flavours and was a good technique for one-pan cooking.




  • 4 chicken breasts / *we used 1 large block of tofu
  • 2 yellow onions, roughly chopped
  • 500g plum tomatoes
  • 2 large potatoes, peeled + cubed
  • 4 carrots, peeled + diced
  • 3 cloves of garlic, peeled + sliced
  • 1 tbsp cornflour
  • 1 L water
  • chicken stock / veg stock
  • salt + pepper to taste
  • SPICE MIX: 6 peppercorns, 1 tbsp allspice berries, 1 tbsp coriander seeds, 1 tbsp sesame seeds, 1 tbsp pumpkin seeds, 1 tbsp chilli flakes, 1 tbsp dried oregano, 6 cloves, 1/2 cinnamon stick
  • TO SERVE: coriander leaves


  1. In a large pan of boiling water, cook the onions, carrots + potatoes.
  2. Heat a bit of oil in a frying pan and roast the peppercorns, cinnamon, allspice berries, cloves and coriander seeds until fragrant. Remove from the pan and roast the pumpkin seeds, chillies, sesame seeds and oregano. Then using a pestle & mortar or spice grinder to grind all the roasted spices together.
  3. Re-heat some more oil and fry the onion, tomatoes, and garlic until the onions are golden brown. Then remove the pan from the heat and skin the cooled tomatoes.
  4. Blend the spice mix and the vegetables together, adding a little bit of the boiled veg water into a smooth liquid.
  5. Drain the large pot of water of vegetables. Put the spice-veg mixture into this pan and heat this on a low simmer for 10 minutes. To reach the ideal consistency, add a little cornflour to thicken up the stew or a little more veg stock to thin it out. Stir consistently.
  6. Then add in the tofu / chicken and the boiled vegetables. Cook for 30 minutes, seasoning with salt + pepper to taste. Serve with fresh rice and garnish with coriander.

Gracias and see you in Guinea!

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