It’s a cultural smorgasbord! It’s as varied and rich as the several cultures that together make up Belize cuisine. Belizean food can be as peppery and fiery as the heat of the tropical sun, or as cool and refreshing as the crystal clear Caribbean waters that wash the Belize shores.
Or it can be as light and bright as the hundreds of birds that sing in our rainforests, or as savory and earthy as the dozens of wildlife that roam her acres of primary forest (many of them now protected species, so no eating of off-season game meat and the Hawksbill turtle is always a no-no for turtle soup or any menu item!).
With the addition of immigrants from India, mainland China, Nigeria and neighbouring Central American countries over the years, Belizean cuisine also now has an added international flavour.
And, particularly with the gastronomic rise in tourism in the past five years, European cuisine, as well as American favourites, has become as readily available as the stalwart Kriol (Creole) rice-and-beans, Latino chimole, Mayan caldo, Garifuna hudut or East Indian curried favourites – all dishes which, incidentally, can today be considered pan-Belizean. Are you beginning to get hungry? Well read on and feast on the following Belizean favourites. First up, every Belizean’s favorite!
Belize Rice and Beans Recipe
Let’s start with the most Belizean of all dishes: rice-and-beans, the staple of Belize Cuisine. Although originally considered primarily a Creole dish, today it’s eaten daily by all and is simply called Belizean rice and beans. While, of course, nobody can make rice-and-beans as delicious as the grandmother of the first Belizean you ever talk to, the following is pretty much a recipe for a successful ‘beans’ as it is commonly called by weekend partygoers when they stop to purchase a plate late night in downtown Belize City from a variety of street-side sellers. Picture: Belize Beans and Rice is a variation of Rice and Beans.
The most famous of these, Meighan beans, was immortalized on celluloid by a local TV station which documented his method for making delicious and gargantuan amounts of rice-and-beans, accompanied by stewed meat (usually beef or chicken) with gravy, potato salad and plantain. Plantain, incidentally, has been described by some visiting palates as the local cranberry sauce. So, here goes. Recipe for Belizean rice-and-beans derived from the original Meighans Beans recipe:
1 lb. Red Kidney Beans 2 plugs Garlic (crushed)
1 tsp. Salt
1 cup coconut Milk (either squeezed from grated coconut or bought prepared, canned, or made from powered variety)
½ tsp. Black pepper
½ tsp. Thyme
2 lbs. cleaned Rice
1 medium Onion (sliced)
6-8 cups of water
(optional) 1 small pigtail or salt beef or pieces of bacon
1. Wash the beans, then soak beans for 4 hours, using the 6-8 cups of water. If you are using distilled water, then soaked beans only needs 2 hours to soften.
2. Boil beans until tender, with the garlic, onion and pig’s tail/or salted beef or bacon pieces. Note: pre-wash the pigtail or salt beef and cut off excess fat. You can use a pressure cooker to cut down on the time.
3. Season beans with black pepper, thyme and salt. Note: You may opt not to add the salt if you used salt beef or pigtail above.
4. Add coconut milk. Stir and then let boil.
5. Add rice to seasoned beans. Stir, then cover. Cook on low heat until the water is absorbed and rice is tender. If necessary, add more water gradually until rice is tender. Note: Usually, one cup of rice absorbs two cups of water, although rice grains can vary in the amount of water they absorb. To warm up leftover rice-and-beans, you can sprinkle with water to re-moisten.
Belize Rice and Beans, with its several accompaniments, can be found on most restaurants’ menus. A variation is rice-and-peas (made with black-eyed peas instead of with red kidney beans). And a sister dish, but definitely different, is beans-and-rice, which is the stewed beans served with white rice (not cooked together like its sister dish) and also served with either potato salad or cole slaw, plantain, and your choice of meat or fish. You might also want to check out our related Belize Tilapia Fried Fish Recipe Page.
One of its distinctive ingredients, coconut milk, is also a main ingredient in several other Belizean dishes. One of these is seré, which is a delectable dish, usually made with fish, swimming in a seasoned coconut milk sauce laced with okra and ground foods like cassava and cocoa. The sere is eaten with grated green plantain or often with white rice.
Next Belize: Creole Bread and Hudut
Related Page: Belize Cuisine Seafood Recipes