Antigua Cooking School El Frijol Feliz

El Frijol Feliz: Learn to Cook in the Heart of Antigua!

In Activities, Food & Drink, Guatemalaby Sheena48 Comments

Want to have fun, learn new skills in the kitchen & sit down to a 6 course Guatemalan feast?! Sign up for a cooking class with El Frijol Feliz in Antigua, Guatemala!

There are lots of things to see & do in Antigua such as admiring baroque churches, haggling at markets, exploring incredible ruins, learning Spanish & joining the Antigua Photo Walk.

But after reading amazing reviews on Tripadvisor, the one thing we here at DIY Travel HQ didn’t want to miss was taking a cooking class with El Frijol Feliz!

El Frijol Feliz has been teaching visitors to Anitgua how to cook delicious Guatemalan food since 2007.They’re located in the center of downtown Antigua, just half a block from Parque Central.

Step inside the bright green doors into a lovely shop front with interesting souvenirs & quality products, including official “El Frijol Feliz” merchandise – I absolutely love their cute little “Happy Bean” logo!

Entrance to El Frijol Feliz

Step through the doors of El Frijol Feliz, into a world of delicious Guatemalan cooking!

This leads into a dining room & kitchen, shared with the Thai restaurant next door – taking a cooking class with El Frijol Feliz is a unique opportunity to cook in a commercial kitchen, alongside professional chefs.

We were warmly welcomed by Leivi, our teacher for the class.

Leivi is native from the Sacatepequez area & like most local women, she learnt to cook from her mother at a young age.

Leivi helped to prepare the cooking plans at El Frijol Feliz, using the same recipes & techniques that have been passed down her family for generations.

El Frijol Feliz teacher Leivi

Introducing our warm & friendly El Frijol Feliz teacher, Leivi!

We booked our class on the El Frijol Feliz website, where we also got to request which dishes we wanted to cook.

You get to choose a main dish, 2 side dishes & a desert – there were so many choices, they all sounded different & interesting it wasn’t easy!

Finally, these were the dishes we decided on for the cooking class:

  • Main: Chiles Rellenos con Salsa de Tomate
  • Side dishes: Arroz con Verduras, Frijoles Volteados & Tortillas
  • Dessert: Mole de Platanos
Vegetables to make Chile Rellenos

Only fresh ingredients were used in our El Frijol Feliz cooking class!

We talked about the recipes in general & how we would be cooking them. Leivi explained that we would be preparing one dish at a time but then cooking some of them at the same time.

The class was run in Spanish but Leidi spoke very clearly & slowly so we understood most of what she was saying, even though our Spanish is quite basic.

We were offered an interpreter but we felt quite comfortable taking it in Spanish & going for the full immersion – we do want to take an international cooking vacation one day so it was good experience!

Now, it was time to put on our awesome El Frijol Feliz aprons & get cooking pronto!

antigua-cooking-class-el-frijol-feliz

Jumping the gun a little with my finished Chili Rellenos, but how cute is the El Frijol Feliz apron?!

Main Dish at El Frijol Feliz

  • Chiles Rellenos con Salsa de Tomate

First on the chopping board was Chiles Rellenos – originating from Mexico, Chiles Rellenos are traditionally stuffed peppers filled with melted cheese, meat, raisins & nuts.

The Guatemalan version is slightly different, with a filling of shredded pork & vegetables instead. But like the Mexican style, they’re also covered with egg batter & fried, served with a tomato sauce on the side.

The main ingredients we used for the Chiles Rellenos were green chillies, chicken, onion, plum tomatoes, potato, carrots & green beans.

These have to be diced very, very finely, together with a mix of garlic, bay leaf, thyme & parsley.

Chiles Rellenos ingredients

Finely diced vegetables & herbs used in Chiles Rellenos

Cover & cook on medium-low heat until the vegetables are tender, then put the mixture aside to cool down.

The next step is to roast the green chilies over a flame, on all sides – this makes the skins start to blister.

Then, put them into a plastic lock-bag, which Leivi explained was to “sweat” the chilies out, making them easier to peel.

Set them aside to cool down a little, before peeling off all the skin, while they’re still hot – they’re easier to remove this way.

Then, slice the chilies in half and remove all the seeds & veins, leaving only the skin & stem.

Preparing chili rellenos

Roast the chilli peppers on all sides

Next comes the fun part – putting it all together!

Take a piece of chili & pile a small handful of the chicken & vegetable filling on top of it – you’re only using one half of a chili so they’re not actually “stuffed”, though Leivi showed us that you could also place the other half of the chili on top.

Don’t be scared to get your paws dirty, they’ll be more of that to come!

Now it’s time to make the batter for the chiles rellenos.

Start by separating the egg whites from the yolks. Use a whisk to beat the whites until they start to foam, then add the yolks & whisk for another 30 seconds.

Place the stuffed chilies in the batter & cover well. Then fry them in a large pan of oil until golden brown.

Chili Rellenos egg batter

Dip the chili rellenos into the egg batter!

Chiles Rellenos are often served with a tomato sauce.

To prepare this, boil some tomatoes, onions & bell peppers, then place them into a blender.

Put the mixture back onto the boil for a few more minutes & that’s it!

And that’s how you make Chilles Rellenos con Salsa de Tomate with El Frijol Feliz!

How to make chill rellenos

A perfectly made chill relleno by our teacher Leivi!

Side dishes at El Frijol Feliz

  • Arroz con Verduras

Rice is a staple in Guatemalan cooking, but traditional Guatemalan rice is more than just white rice – it includes vegetables too.

You can use pretty much any vegetables, we used red bell peppers, carrots, onions & sweet peas.

Sautee the vegetables, then add the uncooked rice with water. Cook the rice for about 20 minutes, as normal.

It’s really easy to make & as Leivi pointed out to us, it’s a great side dish that can go with many dishes, including our Chiles Rellenos con Salsa de Tomate.

Guatemalan rice with vegetables

Traditional Guatemalan rice with vegetables – simple & hearty!

  • Frijoles Volteados

Another common side dish in Guatemala is Refried Black Beans, or Frijoles Volteados.

Leivi mentioned that meat is expensive so for many families, beans are the only source of regular protein.

We really appreciated all her insights into Guatemalan culture & society throughout the cooking class, many of which we didn’t really take the time to think about earlier.

Frijoles Volteados are eaten for breakfast, lunch & dinner.

There are different ways to eat it, such as in a more liquid form to dip tortillas in or as dipping it with tortillas or as a sauce over fried plantains.

Pork lard, onions, garlic

Mix the beans with pork lard, onions & garlic to make Frijoles Volteados

Leivi shared with us an urban legend that soaking black beans in water overnight helps to reduce it’s gas-producing element… but because the typical back beans in Guatemala are quite small, it’s not really true!

For Frijoles Volteados, you only need to boil the beans for 1-1.5 hours, until they are soft – then add them in a blender to make a bean puree.

At the same time, sauté a mix of mix of diced onions, garlic & pork lard in a frying pan. Add the bean puree into the pan & cook the mixture until it reduces.

Although some people prefer a more liquidly-type sauce, Leivi recommended a thicker consistency for our meal.

Frijoles Volteados bean paste

Cook the Frijoles Volteados sauce for longer to make a thicker paste

Handmade Tortillas at El Frijol Feliz

Corn is at the crux of Guatemalan cooking & you will find corn tortillas with every meal.

We learnt to make our own tortillas at El Frijol Feliz, which turned out to be easier said than done!

It seems simple, just a mix of corn flour & a little bit of water, but it’s tough to get the right consistency.

Form a small ball of dough in the palm of your hand, then clap your hands back & forth flattening the ball into a thin, round mini-pancake.

We had lots of trouble with this, as the dough kept sticking to our hands, even when we put a bit of water on our palms.

It's not easy to make your own tortillas!

Erik is disappointed with his tortilla-making efforts! It’s not easy!

Leivi formed perfectly round tortillas with speed & ease – we could only marvel at hers & laugh at our own efforts! 🙂

We did our best & put the finished tortillas directly on the pan, cooking them just slightly.

We wrapped them in a towel & placed them into a basket to keep warm.

Handmade tortillas on

Haha, guess which tortillas are ours?!

Dessert at El Frijol Feliz

  • Mole de Platanos

Like Chiles Rellenos, mole originates from Mexico. It refers to a variety of sauces made up of chili peppers, chocolate, fruit, nuts & spices.

Mole from Guatemala is similar to the Mexican version (the most famous being mole poblano), though the sauce is used for dessert, not a main dish.

In Mexico, mole is served with meat such as chicken or turkey while in Guatemala, it’s traditional to have it with fried plantains.

The local version of mole includes roasted chilies, tomatoes, peppercorns, cinnamon, cloves, pumpkin seeds & sesame seeds – you can toast these in a pan but don’t use oil.

Mole de Platanos recipe

These are all the ingredients you need to make the Mole sauce!

Once that’s done, place all the ingredients into a blender with water.

Then add the liquid into a saucepan, mixing & boiling it with chocolate & more cinnamon.

Meanwhile, slice some plantains & fry them until golden brown. Place them into the boiling mole sauce for a further 10 minutes.

Sprinkle some sesame seeds on top & voila, your traditional Guatemalan dessert is ready to eat!

Bananas Mole de Platanos

Fried bananas for Mole de Platanos!

The Finished Meal at El Frijol Feliz

The cooking class at El Frijol Feliz took approximately 1.5 hours – after working up an appetite, over a couple of glasses of wine, we were ready to taste our cooking!

The dishes were brought out to one of the lovely tables in the dining room.

There was so much food & it looked delicious – we couldn’t believe we made all of it ourselves!

First on the plate were the Chiles Rellenos – for large balls with lots of filling, these stuffed peppers were surprisingly light & fluffy.

Whisking the eggs for a long time really made a difference.

Guatemalan Chiles Rellenos recipe

Check out our golden brown & super-tasty Chiles Rellenos!

The Chiles Rellenos tasted even better with the Salsa de Tomate.

The Arroz con Verduras was so flavourful & hearty with the vegetables that we enjoyed eating them just as they were.

The Frijoles Volteados were a surprising taste sensation! I didn’t imagine that black beans could taste this good! The small amount of onions, garlic & pork lard really went a long way.

We ate the Frijoles Volteados with our Handmade Tortillas. While they may have looked misshaped, we thought they tasted pretty good!

Best meal in Antigua

6 yummy dishes & we cooked it all ourselves!

We were so full towards the end of the meal but there’s always room for dessert… and we somehow kept making more & more room because the Mole de Platanos were absolutely delicious.

I’d never really liked mole in Mexico, I always found it too smoky, but the Guatemalan version is very different.

It’s a lot richer & more chocolate-based, which suits my palette perfectly.

I preferred the mole sauce with dessert as well, rather than meat – after all, bananas in a chocolate sauce is a classic combination.

There was a lot of food, more than enough for 4 people but we did a pretty good finishing most of it 🙂

Learn to Cook in Antigua

We were so happy with the presentation & taste of our cooking! 🙂

El Frijol Feliz Wrap-Up

Our experience at El Frijol Feliz was everything we were looking for in a cooking class in Antigua. We learnt how to make Guatemalan food in a commercial kitchen, alongside professional chefs.

When we arrived at El Frijol Feliz, we were actually pretty exhausted from sightseeing around the city all day. We were surprised to find all the preparation work & cooking quite relaxing & therapeutic, especially with a glass or two of wine.

Leivi was a very friendly, helpful & patient teacher. We never felt rushed & when we weren’t sure of what to do, Leivi always worked with us until we got it right.

If you’re looking to have fun & learn new skills in the kitchen, sign up for a class with El Frijol Feliz – it might just be one of your best experiences in Guatemala!

Ready to eat at El Frijol Feliz

So. Much. Food! I truly was a “Happy Bean” learning to cook with El Frijol Feliz!

In a Nutshell

Location: 4 Ave Sur #1, Antigua (half a block from Parque Central, next to Cafe Flor)

Types of Classes: Cooking Class, Baking Class, Date Night and Antigua Market & Cooking Class

Cooking class times: 8:30 am, 10:30 am, 2:30 pm & 4:30 pm

Duration: 3-3.5 hours including cooking time

Dishes: Chiles Rellenos con Salsa de Tomate, Arroz con Verduras, Frijoles Volteados, Handmade Tortillas & Mole de Platanos

Price: $49.00 or Q365 for the Cooking Class

Contact:

Learn to cook with El Frijol Feliz Antigua

Learning to cook traditional Guatemalan food with El Frijol Feliz should be on every Antigua itinerary!

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* Thank you to El Frijol Feliz for hosting us!

Visited in October 2016

Comments

  1. Wow I love this! Great vivid photos and super informative. I liked how you gave a little background on the instructor and went for the full immersion experience. It really makes me want to try it. Tagging this post for sure. Thanks!

  2. Oh holy cow my mouth is watering! And don’t feel bad about the tortillas….I’m sure mine would look way worse haha.

  3. Oh my, this looks soooo delicious! I’m from The NL and I try to cook but damn, I suck in it haha.

    1. Author

      I’m not the best cook either but I like to be sous-chef 🙂 Don’t let that put you off taking cooking classes, you can take it seriously or just drink wine & have fun 🙂

  4. Reading through this made me so hungry and jealous! You look like you really enjoyed it! Keep it up man!

  5. Yum! I love taking cooking classes in different cities around the world – this looks so delicious! Hopefully I’ll get a chance to visit Guatemala one day and take a cooking class!

    1. Author

      I hope so too – I definitely recommend a cooking class in Guatemala, it really makes you appreciate their food so much more, I wish I did more earlier in my travels here

  6. My first solo travel experience started in Antigua, Guatemala. What a beautiful city with some of the friendliest people I have ever met! I didn’t get to take a cooking class there though so maybe that’s a good excuse to go back! 😉 It looks delicious!

    1. Author

      It definitely sounds like a good excuse to me – if I can’t replicate these dishes in my kitchen, I’m going to go back too! I agree with you on Antigua & its people too 🙂

  7. Oh my! This looks delicious and fun. I always seem to skip cooking classes when traveling, maybe I should rethink that. I’m sure my husband would appreciate it.

  8. I really miss food from Latin America and I especially love Chiles Rellenos! My mom makes some amazing ones with cheese, but these look even more tasty! Also, good for you for doing the class in Spanish! It’s always great to get the full immersion experience!

    1. Author

      I’ve never tried chiles rellenos with cheese, even though I spent 4 months in Mexico this year… I’ll go back or try to make them myself, whichever is easiest 🙂

  9. Love fried food so seems like amazing tasty food! Nothing feels better than to eat the food you just proudly cook 🙂

  10. Wow! It looks amazing 😀 We love cooking classes, we already did one in Thailand and another one in Vietnam. They were both really great experience. It is a good way to get to know a bit more about the culture.

    Buen Trabajo! 🙂

  11. Tortillas! Plantains! Oh my gosh this all looks so scrumptious! I’ve wanted to do a local cooking class somewhere… anywhere… for ages. I’ve never been to Guatemala, but I may put it on my must go list just for this. My mouth is seriously watering right now!

  12. Yummmmmy!!! All the dishes you prepared looks amazing. I love love love cooking classes – it is such a great way to get to know a culture better. You learn so much about a place, it’s culture, its history through its food. This experience looks really hands on – it sounds like you had a wonderful time!

  13. This is soo yummy. in India, we don’t get Guatemalan food at all. But I am very fond of it as I have seen in various TV Show.. Now actually you cooking would be fun. Infact I make some at home now as you described it well.

  14. This looked like such fun! Guatemala is on my list to visit, especially now for this cooking class because I love Chiles Rellenos! Like you I’m not a huge fan of Mexican Mole, but I would quite interested in learning how to make the Guatemalan mole. All of this looks delicious!

  15. Wow, a cooking class abroad does sound really awesome. Will try out the Chiles Rellenos at home. What kind of chillies did you use??

  16. You made me hungry in the middle of the night. :p
    Such colorful pictures and amazing Tortillas recipe I am gonna try. Thanks for sharing. 🙂

  17. Yumm this looks amazing, and like so much fun to! I’ll have to keep cooking classes in mind for my future holidays 🙂

  18. This looks incredible! We are just starting to get really into cooking and experimenting with different types of food. A cooking class in the next foodie destination we visit is definitely high on our list!

  19. Cooking has always been my hobby. Travelling and cooking is the best combination I can imagine for myself. The photos are amazing. My mouth is already watering. Thanks for the blog

  20. This looks like you had a lot of fun. It reminds me of a cooking class I took in Jordan. I did a bad job though, haha!

  21. What a great experience. I love food and love cooking. And for me traveling also includes to taste the local food. Usually I’ll buy a cook book anywhere I’ll go, but whenever there is the time a cooking class can be a great idea. thank you for sharing.

  22. Those Chiles Rellenos look pretty amazing! We love taking cooking classes when we travel too. Which of these dishes do you think you’d most likely make again?

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