Frijoles Blancos a la Vegetariana

by Simone Riddle

When we say frijoles we automatically think of black beans served with huevos revueltos, eaten both for breakfast & the evening meal. Yet there are other kinds of beans on offer in Guatemala’s markets; frijoles rojos, blancos & piloy (if you’re in Guatemala City or Antigua). So, why stop at black beans? The Chapin version of borletti beans – frijoles blancos – are used in a dish that is traditionally cooked with pork at better comedores here in Xela.

Many extranjeros residing in Xela are either gringos vegetarianos, cooking on a budget, or are not brave enough to venture into the depths of mercado central – is it the smell, the scavenging street chuchus, or the sight of pigs’ trotters that puts you off? – So Xelawho brings you the vegetarian version that can only be compared to the British classic, ‘Baked Beans’.


  • One pound of dried frijoles blancos (you can buy them by the packet in larger tiendas or loose in the market)
  • Two onions
  • One red pepper
  • Five tomatoes
  • Three small pan frances from any panederia
  • 1 tablespoon of oregano (you can add more if necessary towards the end)
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • One Quetzal of perijil (parsley)


1.    Begin by putting the white beans in a pressure cooker & covering them with enough water to come to about an inch above the beans. Add half of a peeled onion. Put on the lid to the pressure cooker turning on the heat. Once the pan starts whistling, the beans should take about 35-40 minutes to cook until soft. If you don’t have a pressure cooker, the beans will need soaking over night in water & cooking for 4-5 hours over a low heat, stirring & adding more water when necessary – this method is painfully slow. I wholeheartedly recommend buying a pressure cooker

2.    While the beans are cooking, in a small pan place the washed tomatoes, the other half of the peeled onion, & the three peeled garlic cloves with about half a cup of water, just enough so that the vegetables are covered to about half way up with water. Boil over a low heat for about 10-15 minutes until the vegetables are soft (moving around from time to time)

3.    Leave to cool a little. Then, place the vegetables with the pan francés & the water from the pan in a blender & blend until into a smooth paste

4.    Add this sauce to the pressure cooker pan with the beans (don’t drain the beans), stir well & if you think there’s not enough sauce, add a little more water

5.    Begin to heat gently. Add the oregano, plenty of salt & cook for another 10-15 minutes until the sauce thickens & becomes almost creamy

6.    Serve in a bowl over arroz integral if you’re feeling healthy or tortillas tostadas & queso fresco for a quicker option. Add a sprinkle of chopped parsley on top to serve & wow your friends, British expats & veggie Chapins alike with this traditional dish.

Book your cookery class with Asociacion de Mujeres del Altiplano (AMA) where Women Circle members offer traditional Mayan techniques. Email AMA@highl& ighl&


You may also like...