Cook up rice by Melissa Varswyk

The Guyanese cook up rice, a traditional festive dish bringing good luck.

The cook up rice is a unique dish from Guyana, composed of rice, cowpea beans of African origin. These basic ingredients have traveled with the African diaspora engendered by slavery, and are now cooked in all the Caribbean and Latin America.

Guyanese cook up rice is also made from a mixture of meats sweetened with coconut, colored with fresh herbs, but of course strongly spicy, like all Caribbean dishes. This very popular dish in Guyana is prepared with families on weekends; it is also traditional to serve it during the New Year meal, because it is a symbol of luck.

Melissa Varswyk presents her delicious family recipe here. Beyond this recipe, she actively contributes to this International Decade for People of African Descent. Find her on




 About 8 people


1 hour




1kg parboiled rice
500g cowpea beans
500g chicken and 500g beef (boneless and cut)
soy sauce
3 cans of coconut milk (600g total)
olive oil
2 onions
1 head of garlic
thyme branch
3 shallots
3 celery stalks
1 red pepper
1 chili
2 tomatoes
2 carrots
1 cucumber
1 cabbage
powdered ginger

Cooking directions

  1. Soak the beans in water for 8 hours.
  2. Peel and dice the carrots.
  3. Prepare your seasoning by chopping together the onions, garlic, shallots, celery stalks, pepper and tomato.
  4. Season the beef with half a cup of soy sauce, salt, pepper and half a tablespoon (tbsp) of ginger.
  5. In a separate bowl, season the chicken with the rest of the soy sauce, mustard, salt, pepper and the rest of the ginger.
  6. In a pressure cooker, heat 2 tbsp of olive oil. Add the seasoned beef and sauté for 2 minutes. Then add 2 cups of water, close the casserole, then cook the beef for about 25 minutes over medium heat.
  7. Cook the rice.
  8. In a saucepan, add 2 tbsp of olive oil. Fry the seasoned chicken for 10 minutes, then set aside.
  9. Open the pressure cooker (releasing the steam under pressure THEN removing the lid) and add the beans, soaked in the beef. If necessary, add more water to cover the contents of the casserole dish. Cook everything under pressure for about 10 minutes.
  10. Add to the contents of the pressure cooker the previously fried chicken, as well as the parboiled rice, the coconut milk, the cut carrots, the thyme, the chili (whole) and half chopped seasoning. Season with salt and pepper.
  11. Prepare the garnish: cut the tomatoes, cucumber, diced carrots, cabbage.
  12. Cover the contents of the pressure cooker again with water. Cook under pressure for 5 minutes. Add the remaining seasoning and cook for another 3 minutes with the lid of the casserole dish closed.
  13. Pour your cook up rice in a dish, add the garnish as decoration, arranged on the side of the dish.

Serve the cookup rice.

Dessin de haricot noir