I recently spent some time in Georgetown, Guyana. Although I mostly prepared my meals, I visited a few restaurants. The purpose of this post is to provide info for Vegans travelling to Guyana but I must confess that I unexpectedly ate some questionable items.
It all began on the first night, when my friend took me to the Maharaja Palace. This place is fun to visit. On the first floor, they have East Indian items for sale like jewelry, incense burners, musical instruments, statues and portraits of Hindu deities. On the second floor, they have clothing but I only recall the clothing for women…beautiful Lehengas , Sarees and Salwar Kameez.
The restaurant is on the third floor and you can see why my friend’s cousin calls it the “Bling-Bling…”
The menu has Indian food as well as Asian food. A waiter suggested I order the Conje Vegetable Appetizer and Baby Corn Mushroom Masala, when I asked for no dairy….
My friend also ordered food for herself and her children. We took the food back to her place and, in the absence of labels, could not figure out what we were eating. The food was good, for the most part, but there were some questionable “veggies.” I also had concerns about my “vegan” Masala sauce.
I kept going back to Maharaja for more of the Conje Vegetables …
The vegetables are fried and covered in a delicious sauce. There were baby corn, carrots, mushrooms, potatoes or Yucca and there was some other white, sort of fleshy, “veggie.” I never found out what it was but it tasted so good. Hopefully, it was a vegetable.
The second time around, my friend ordered the Mix Veg (Maharaja Special)…
The only other place that I sat in for a “meal” was the Oasis Café…
There were a few vegan-friendly items on the menu. For breakfast, I requested a non-dairy banana shake and you can see what my new friend ate…
I feel really lucky to have met Ayo. She took time out of her day to show me this special place.
Apparently, it is a very popular, upscale and touristy hang-out. One American woman told me she goes there to feel “at home.”
For the sake of vegan-hood, I felt compelled to visit the ISUN vegetarian restaurant…
I usually avoid veggie restaurants because of the soy.
Many of the items were soy and the only thing that looked appealing to me was the cabbage. It was one of the first places I visited before I became accustomed to the way local restaurants display food in glass cases. The cabbage tasted great but I felt their version of Puri was bland.
Ahh, Dhal Puri! It was the one thing I was planning to eat without even knowing it. The Trini shops in New York call it Roti; so that is what I initially asked for. Dhal Puri is an East Indian styled flatbread filled with curried yellow split peas.
I had stopped eating it in the US but I craved it in Guyana. I also ate Roti (another flatbread), seriously back-sliding from my ideal Mucusless diet. I refuse to admit everything I ate but I have definitely paid for my transgressions.
After visiting a few Roti Shops, I favorited Roti Plus…
I tried their Pumpkin and Callaloo but their food was too salty for me.(Note: I avoid using salt)
For the rest of my visit, I opted to buy the Dhal Puri and prepared a salt-free curried pumpkin.
A local woman told me that it is expensive to be vegan in Guyana. I think most people in the states would say the same thing. Fruit and vegetables are more expensive than meat in the US, simply because the government does not designate our taxes to subsidize healthy food. Is this a conspiracy to weaken the population? Food for thought…
You can buy almost everything at the big outdoor markets where the local vendors haggle for your business. In retrospect, I probably could have negotiated prices. Instead, I walked away from perceived unfair prices. I failed to take pictures in the market because everyone, everywhere, in Guyana kept warning me to watch my purse. There was too much movement in the market so the camera stayed in my purse.
In Guyana, items like apples, grapes and broccoli are more expensive because they are imported. I preferred to eat locally grown fruit and veggies like bananas, guava, mangoes, passion fruit, pineapple, green “Oranges,” green squash, Bok Choy, lettuce, colored peppers, tomatoes and what they called “Pumpkin.”
I did not see anything resembling the orange pumpkin ritually carved in the states every October. Instead, I found what is commonly labeled “Squash” in the US..lots of Kabocha and Calabaza-looking squash. Nigels Supermarket sells imported items, like Broccoli and grapes and specialty items that you may not find in the Market.
If I had to rate Guyana for Veganism, I would have to give them a C- because most of the cuisine contains an animal product. Regardless, I enjoyed my food and would love an opportunity to eat more Conje Vegetables.
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Dhal Puri (Guyana)