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
- 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
- Bring a skillet up to temperature on medium heat, then add coconut oil
- When coconut oil is hot and melted add tomatoes, green onions, and garlic
- Sauté for a few minutes then add the spinach and pumpkin followed by the salt, dried thyme, and black pepper
- Continue to sauté for two minutes mixing together all of the seasoning and other ingredients
- Then add the rice, wiri wiri pepper and coconut milk
- Mix together well and bring to a boil
- Let boil uncovered for about 5 minutes then give it a good stir freeing any rice that may have stuck to the bottom
- 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
- Then remove from the heat, fluff the rice with a fork mixing together well
- Serve as is or with your favorite protein
For additional heat you can eat this rice with some pepper sauce
Fish pairs really well with this dish. Try these popular fish recipes: