Callaloo Cook-up Rice is a vegetarian side that brings together spinach, pumpkin, and rice cooked in flavorful coconut milk. This Guyanese dish is fresh, flavorful, filling, and ready in less than 30 minutes!
Callaloo Cook-up Rice
Callaloo cook-up rice is often referred to as an Ital Cook-up in Guyana, referencing rastafarian culture. When you add pumpkin to a 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.
Why You’ll Love This Callaloo Cook-up Rice Recipe
- Convenient: Nothing is easier than throwing everything into one pot for a weeknight dinner. This is an easy one pot meal that you’ll never get tired of.
- Nutritious: This rice is loaded with plenty of fresh produce. It’s a great way to sneak some extra nutrients into meals for your family.
- Versatile: This is hearty and wholesome enough to be a vegetarian meal. But you can also use it as a side dish and serve it with your favorite protein.
What is Callaloo?
Callaloo is a variety of green leafy vegetables. There are many varieties of callaloo in Guyana, but spinach is the closest substitution for the variety most often used in cook-up rice dishes.
- Callaloo Cook-up Rice
- Why You’ll Love This Callaloo Cook-up Rice Recipe
- What is Callaloo?
- How to Make Callaloo Cook-up Rice
- Tips for the Best Callaloo Cook-up Rice
- Frequently Asked Questions
- Callaloo Cook-up Rice
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.
- Coconut oil: This is your cooking oil.
- Aromatics: I use diced tomatoes, finely chopped green onions, and grated cloves of garlic. These are sautéed together as the base flavor for this rice dish.
- Spinach: Washed and chopped or 1 cup of frozen spinach completely thawed.
- Diced pumpkin: Ideally, use calabaza squash. Frozen pumpkin works well too.
- Rice: Use jasmine rice or long grain white rice. Wash and drain it before adding it to the pot.
- Dried thyme: Preferably Guyanese thyme.
- Seasoning: Keep it simple with salt and black pepper.
- Wiri wiri: Used whole for flavor and not for heat. Alternatively, use a similar chili pepper like scotch bonnet.
- Canned coconut milk: Diluted it with 2 cups of water or use 3 cups of fresh coconut milk instead.
See recipe card for quantities.
How to Make Callaloo Cook-up Rice
Bring a skillet up to temperature on medium heat, then add coconut oil. When the 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
I like to add my rice after sautéing the vegetables for a few minutes. So now add the rice, wiri wiri pepper, and coconut milk. Mix everything together well and bring it to a boil. Let it boil uncovered for about 5 minutes then give it a good stir, freeing any rice that may have stuck to the bottom.
Simmer the Rice
Then reduce the heat to the lowest possible heat, cover it, and let the rice simmer for 15 to 20 minutes or until the callaloo cook-up rice is fully cooked. Then remove it from the heat and fluff the rice with a fork mixing together well.
Serve it as is or with your favorite protein.
Callaloo cook-up stores well. Place leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days. To reheat leftovers, place them in the microwave.
Tips for the Best Callaloo Cook-up Rice
- Wash your rice. Growing up in Guyana, 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. Rice has high levels of 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.
- If using canned coconut milk, dilute it. I’m not fussy about what kind of coconut milk you use, but for the best results dilute canned coconut milk. It is usually much creamier and fattier than freshly made coconut milk. Using canned coconut milk without diluting it will give you super rich, 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 throughout 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.
Frequently Asked Questions
Callaloo Cook-up Rice
- Large Pot or Skillet
- 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 (calabaza squash) 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.
The information listed in the recipe card is an estimate provided by an online nutrition tool. The tool evaluates ingredient names and amounts then makes calculations based on the number of servings listed for the recipe. It is provided as a general guideline and not as a precise calculation. For precise nutrition information please feel free to add the ingredients to your preferred nutrition calculator or consult a doctor or licensed nutritionist.