COUNTRY:                           GUATEMALA         

DISH:                                     PEPIAN STEW

CONTRIBUTED BY:            Embassy – Mission in Pretoria


From Guatemala, a beautiful and colorful Central American country, we present a recipe for a delicious dish called Pepian Stew which has a rich culinary history. Pepian is recognized as the national dish and is the most popular traditional dish in Guatemala. It was declared Intangible Cultural Heritage of the Nation in September 2007, as it is one of the first culinary creations forming an important part of the country’s cultural heritage.  It is a fusion of pre-Columbian cuisine with ingredients of Hispanic-Arab origin, that reflects the country’s history in its flavor. According to the Guatemalan historian Miguel Alvarez, the dish came about during the 16th century and was prepared in conjunction with Mayan religious ceremonies and later with all great ceremonies such as weddings, birthdays and even funerals. Pepian stew represents Guatemala’s cultural identity and flavor, making it the Guatemalan people’s favorite.

Pepian stew is a combination of meats and vegetables in a thick and rich sauce. It has a very distinct flavor because of the roasted ingredients which gives it a unique taste. It is usually served hot with rice and corn tortillas. It has become customary to offer it a day after it is prepared, because with cooling and reheating its flavor increases even more.  The dish has two varieties, red and black, depending on the type of pepper used. The recipe of Pepian has evolved over time.  From its pre-Hispanic roots and methods of preparation, the recipe has been influenced and now has incorporated international culinary trend, which merge perfectly, creating a delicious mixture of aromas and flavors worthy of a gourmet dish.



1 kg chicken breast, chopped

½ kg beef rib

1 güisquil (pear gourd)

4 potatoes medium, cut in half

2 carrots, quartered

250gr green beans

Coriander and salt to taste


Mole     (roast and blend with 2 cups of broth)

1 guaque chili

1 pasa chili

1 chili pepper

3 tomatoes

1 medium onion

3 garlic cloves

3 fat pepper

4 black peppers

4 oz green tomato

4 oz pumpkin seeds (pepitoria)

4 oz sesame seeds

1 cinnamon stick

1 corn tortilla

1 French bread


  1. In a pot place 2 ltrs water. Add chicken, beef ribs and salt.
  2. Cook over medium heat for 40 minute.
  3. Add the vegetables, cook for 15 minutes more.
  4. Add the mole and the coriander and boil 10 minutes.
  5. Serve with rice and corn tortilla.