Fall Flavor: Guatemalan Pepián Stew

Olivia HaydenCookbook, Latin America and the Caribbean

Perfect for cool fall weather, this recipe is inspired by Whole Planet Foundation microcredit client Anita from Guatemala. For more unique recipes from microcredit clients, pick up a copy of Liberation Soup and Other Recipes from Microentrepreneurs Around the Globe on Amazon!

Anita’s Story

Microcredit Client Anita

Anita shows off her spicy chicken stew.

Anita is 58 years old and had been a borrower of Whole Planet Foundation microfinance partner Banrural Grameen for about one year when our field team visited her restaurant. She started with a loan of 1,500 Quetzal (about $194 USD) to invest in her small restaurant located in Sololá, just up the hill from the picturesque town of Panajachel overlooking Lake Atitlan. She has been in the restaurant business for 20 years in various different places.

Anita has a small but popular restaurant on a main street where she mostly sells popular Guatemalan lunch dishes like Pepián as well as fried chicken, grilled meats, and soups.



  • 3 pound chicken cut into pieces
  • 3 cups chicken broth
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 large tomatoes, chopped or 1-14 ounce can
  • 5 medium tomatillos, chopped
  • 1 pasilla chile, chopped
  • 1 guajillo chile, chopped
  • ½ cup chicken broth
  • ½ cup sesame seeds
  • 1 tablespoon of pepitas (shelled pumpkin seeds)
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoons red pepper flakes
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 3 corn tortillas cut into pieces
  • ¼ teaspoon achiote paste


  1. Place chicken, broth and salt in a large pot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes.
  2. Bring tomatoes, tomatillos, and both chiles to a boil in ½ cup of chicken broth; reduce heat to simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool while doing the next 2 steps.
  3. Toast sesame seeds, pepitas, cinnamon, and red pepper flakes in a dry skillet over low heat. Once you start to smell them toasting remove from the heat.
  4. Place toasted ingredients in a blender and pulse to a powder, then add to the tomato mixture and pour back into the blender and puree.
  5. Soften achiote paste in a ¼ cup of the hot chicken broth and blend with a fork.
  6. Add tortillas, achiote paste, and 2 cups of chicken broth to the blender and process until smooth.
  7. Pour the contents of the blender into the chicken pan, stir and simmer over low heat for 15 minutes until sauce has thickened.
  8. Serve with warmed corn tortillas and rice
  9. Enjoy!

Guatemalan Microcredit Client Pepian Stew