Traditional Guatemalan Stew
By Barry Rodriguez
Pepian is the epitome of a “local dish.” Not only is it 100% Guatemalan, its recipe varies from town to town. Proud mothers often quarrel with their daughters-in-law from other communities about how best to prepare it. Here’s a look at what makes pepian so special.
Each pepian recipe calls for chicken, beef, or pork. Very special versions (including the one made by our host Enma Mazariegos), include all three.
Pepian gains much of its flavor through the copious use of spices. For this recipe, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, and cinnamon gave the dish a savory taste.
A variety of chilies are grilled on a hot steel surface before having their seeds removed and being blended into the stew. The smell when the chilies are cooking is so strong it makes everyone in the room choke!
The main body of pepian’s sauce comes from fire-roasted tomatoes, onions, and garlic.
On the Stove
Pepian is brought to a boil over a stove before the meat is added. Toasted bread is mixed in to thicken the sauce.
White rice is a great accompaniment to pepian, especially when it’s enhanced by garlic and chilies.
No Guatemalan dish would be complete without fresh corn tortillas!