Callaloo cook-up rice is often referred to as an Ital Cook-up in Guyana, referrencing rastafarian culture. When you add pumpkin to callaloo cook-up some people call it a dougla meaning that it is a mix of more than one vegetable. Dougla is a Guyanese term that means that you are mixed with both Indian and Black. Callaloo is a variety of green leafy vegetables. There are many varieties of callaloo in Guyana, but spinach is the closet substitution for the variety most often used in cook-up rice dishes.

Gather Your ingredients

For this callaloo cook-up rice recipe I used frozen spinach and frozen pumpkin. Feel free to use fresh spinach and fresh pumpkin if you are fortunate to live in a place where those are readily available.


When to add the rice to the callaloo cook-up

I like to add my rice after sautéing the vegetables for a few minutes. Do you wash your rice. Growing up we always washed our rice, but when I came to the US I stopped washing rice, thinking that packaged rice must be clean. I was wrong. Wash your rice. Rice has high levels or arsenic and washing it helps to reduce the amount of arsenic you’ll end up eating. The only rice that does not need to be washed is parboiled rice.

Fresh Coconut milk versus canned coconut milk

I’m not fussy about what kind of coconut milk you use, however for best results dilute the can coconut milk which is usually much creamier and fattier than freshly made coconut milk. Using the canned coconut milk without diluting it will gives you a very rich and sometimes clammy rice.


For best results always fluff your callaloo cook-up rice with a fork!

I always fluff my rice with a fork and highly recommend it. When my parents make cook-up rice, they stir and scrape that pot through-out the entire process. The cook-up is tasty and the burnt bits (bun-bun) on the bottom are the best part in my opinion. But who has time for that. I just reduce my heat to low, let my rice cook, then use a regular dinner fork to mix everything together at the end.

Serve the Callaloo Cook-Up Rice as is or add some protein

Callaloo Cook-up Rice
Rice, spinach and pumpkin cooked in coconut milk
Recipe type: Vegetarian / Vegan
Cuisine: Guyanese
  • 2 tablespoons of coconut oil
  • 2 Tomatoes, diced
  • 4 green onions, finely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, grated
  • 1 bundle of spinach washed and chopped or 1 cup of frozen spinach completely thawed
  • 2 cups of diced pumpkin (frozen pumpkin works well)
  • 2 cups of Jasmine or long grain white rice, washed and trained
  • 1 tablespoon of dried thyme (preferably Guyanese thyme)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon of black pepper
  • 1 wiri wiri or similar chili pepper (e.g. scotch bonnet). Used whole for flavor and not for heat
  • 1 cup of canned coconut milk diluted with 2 cups of water or 3 cups of fresh coconut milk
  1. Bring a skillet up to temperature on medium heat, then add coconut oil
  2. When coconut oil is hot and melted add tomatoes, green onions, and garlic
  3. Sauté for a few minutes then add the spinach and pumpkin followed by the salt, dried thyme, and black pepper
  4. Continue to sauté for two minutes mixing together all of the seasoning and other ingredients
  5. Then add the rice, wiri wiri pepper and coconut milk
  6. Mix together well and bring to a boil
  7. Let boil uncovered for about 5 minutes then give it a good stir freeing any rice that may have stuck to the bottom
  8. Then reduce the heat to the lowest possible heat, cover and let the rice simmer for 15 to 20 minutes or until rice is fully cook
  9. Then remove from the heat, fluff the rice with a fork mixing together well
  10. Serve as is or with your favorite protein
Before serving I like to cut open the wiri wiri pepper for some mild heat
For additional heat you can eat this rice with some pepper sauce

Fish pairs really well with this dish. Try these popular fish recipes:

Crispy Salmon Nuggets

Oven Broiled Salmon

Tuna Cakes


  1. strandsbykaye March 13, 2013 at 12:59 pm

    This looks really good. Loving the vegetarian recipes! My boys would love this even though they are carnivores like their daddy. I cook greens all the time and love callaloo and spinach. I can find callaloo without any trouble, but sometimes the leaves look wilted and sad! So I also substitute spinach or mix them together if I can only find one nice looking bunch.

    1. Metemgee March 13, 2013 at 2:02 pm

      You’re lucky. I wish we had a west Indian Market. The African/Jamaican market we have is very over priced. So I have to pray that the HMart has something remotely close to what I am looking for.

  2. schadah March 13, 2013 at 7:15 pm

    i also don’t have calaloo. I have frozen spinach. do you think it will work? Also do you think u can do bake recipe soon?

    1. Metemgee March 13, 2013 at 10:24 pm

      You can absolutely use frozen spinach. You’ll just have to cook the spinach a bit longer since frozen spinach tends to be a bit tougher. Also I have a bake recipe on the site. It was one of te first things I posted. Check the recipe list. It’s under Sunday brunch or alphabetically under B 🙂

  3. Chereece March 14, 2013 at 7:24 pm

    Tried it for dinner tonight with the spinach, and ooh la la!! Mmm mmm good. Everybody looking at me like “where’d she get this from”?? Haaaa!!

    1. Metemgee March 15, 2013 at 5:22 pm

      Haha. Glad you tried it and loved it.

  4. Priscilla March 25, 2013 at 7:03 pm

    My husband loves callaloo cook-up so i will be trying this for lunch tomorrow.

    1. Metemgee March 25, 2013 at 10:23 pm

      Great. Let me know how it turns out.

      1. Priscilla March 26, 2013 at 10:35 am

        Just wanted you to know it came out well. I did a slight modification though, I added about 1 teaspoon turmeric powder (as you probably know it good for a lot of things) and a little bit more salt. I served this with fry ripe plantains, cucumbers, lettuce and some fresh wiri wiri pepper sauce. My husband said he really enjoyed the food:) So thanks for this recipe.

        1. Metemgee March 27, 2013 at 1:57 pm

          Happy it came out good. And the recipes are here for you to make them your own, so feel free to add or take away whatever ingredients you want. I do the same with recipes from other blogs and cooking site 😉

  5. KT September 28, 2013 at 7:18 am

    I made this recipe last evening with brown rice and it is was so delicious. This was my first time cooking callaloo cook up (I myself used spinach). Thank you for this recipe, can’t wait to try the others.

    1. Metemgee October 6, 2013 at 2:21 pm

      Glad you liked it.

  6. Neville July 25, 2015 at 10:42 am

    Keep it coming. My Callaloo tastes neaarly as nice a what my mom cooked. I have to say I pimped your recipe by adding some schrimps as my mother cooked it so 🙂

    1. Metemgee July 25, 2015 at 12:09 pm

      Dry shrimps would be really nice with this recipe. Glad you liked it.

  7. Nikki March 20, 2020 at 9:32 am

    I would love if you can do a instant pot version of this!

    1. Althea Brown March 20, 2020 at 10:08 am

      This is on my list of recipes to update. I will be sure to include an Instant Pot Version when I do!

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