Foods Around the World

Taste of Puerto Rico


Adding meat to this dish makes arroz con gandules y pasteles the perfect meal. While it tastes fresh and has a different kind of flavor, it is also very beneficial to your diet.

London Gardner, Photography/Ads Editor

 Puerto Rico, located in the northeast Caribbean Sea, is known for its flavorful rice dishes. Arroz con gandules y pasteles, or rice with gandules and cakes, is one of the favorites of many locals. This dish is one of the signature plates during Christmas time in Puerto Rico. Yellow rice is made with gandules, or pigeon peas, and a Puerto Rican version of a, tamale which is made with green bananas. Including prep time and cooking, it takes about two hours to make.

 The most important ingredients in arroz con gandules is sazón and the gandules. Sazón is a type of seasoning salt mainly found in Spanish and Mexican markets, typically used to flavor meats and stews. Adding it to rice is what gives it the yellow color. To get started, the first step is to boil water and add the rice, sazón, and gandules. Bringing it to medium heat, these ingredients cook for about forty minutes. Then the tamale is made while the rice is cooking. While there are many ways to cook rice, this dish calls for a more light, fluffy texture. After the rice is cooked, a tomato purée is made with cilantro, onions, tomatoes, and green peppers. To add even more flavor to this recipe, some people will add a meat, such as chicken or roasted pork shoulder. Sophomore Xavier Terrell says that this is his favorite dish to eat when he visits his family in Puerto Rico: He said, “The flavors are very different from American, cooking and I love how the cilantro gives the food a fresh flavor.” Cilantro comes from a coriander plant and is used in a lot of Hispanic dishes.

 Arroz con gandules is a healthy dish because it is made from scratch with vegetables and herbs. The mixture of green peas, onions, tomatoes, and cilantro makes for a healthy dish. Some benefits of pigeon peas are helping to manage blood pressure, boost heart health, and lose weight. The main part of the dish, the rice, provides instant energy as well as providing an essential amount of vitamin B1 to your body. It is always nice to know that your favorite dish is also a very beneficial part of your diet!