Typical Food Of La Guajira: The Most Popular Dishes

The typical food of La Guajira is considered one of the most interesting in all of Colombia, because many dishes are prepared with ingredients that are only found in that area.

These dishes include the friche, the iguana stewed with coconut or the sweet papaya. The reason for the originality of their recipes lies in the presence of numerous indigenous communities, mainly the one formed by the Wayúu.

Precisely the name of the department comes from the Wayuunaiki language, from the word “wajiira”. La Guajira is one of the departments that is part of Colombia. It is located in the Caribbean region and its capital is Riohacha.

One of its main characteristics, which also influences its gastronomy, is the presence of various climatic zones.

Typical dishes of the gastronomy of La Guajira

1-  Friche

Friche is one of the traditional dishes of the Wayúu culture and has become one of the most representative of the entire department of La Guajira. It is a goat-based dish.

Historically, the goat was a very important element in the gastronomy of these indigenous people and there are several recipes made with the animal.

The original way of preparing the friche is very simple. It only requires the meat, salt and oil. Besides, the Wayúu used to add the animal’s own blood to improve the flavor.

After frying the pieces of the goat directly on the firewood, it is served with yams or with rice with shrimp.

2-  Iguana stewed with coconut

This reptile is very abundant in the region and has become one of the main ingredients in various recipes. Among these, the iguana stewed with coconut stands out, widely consumed in the municipalities of the interior of La Guajira.

Due to their high consumption, farms have been created that raise iguanas specifically as food, so that in this way the wild population is not affected.

The ingredients that cannot be missing are the iguana itself and the coconut, more specifically the oil and milk that are extracted from this fruit.

Other components of this recipe are garlic, ginger, onion and sweet peppers.

3-  Rice with shrimp

Rice was one of the elements contributed by the Spanish to the gastronomy of Colombia. Colombians have used it, mixing it with local products to give it its own personality.

The rice served with shrimp in La Guajira is one of the tastiest that can be found in the country.

The differential point is found in a special procedure that is applied to shrimp before cooking.

These are parboiled and dried until dehydrated. This process concentrates the flavor and makes the rice more flavorful.

4-  Grilled fish

Its position as a coastal department makes fish in La Guajira an important part of the population’s diet.

Among the most consumed are the red snapper, the cachirra or the snook. The most traditional way to cook them is on the grill, putting them directly on the charcoal. They are served with rice, salad or potatoes.

5-  Sweet papaya

The mixture of tropical fruits with the sugar cane brought by the Spanish led to the production of succulent sweets characteristic of the gastronomy of La Guajira.

The descendants of Africans also contributed their knowledge related to the use of different spices, such as cinnamon.

In this case papaya is used as the main element of the sweet. You have to cook it little by little in water, and add sugar, cinnamon and bicarbonate.

When it acquires the desired texture, it will be time to serve it and enjoy it.

6- Fresh pooch salad

This salad is very refreshing, being ideal for an area as hot as La Guajira. Its main ingredients are pooch fish, lemon juice, peeled and chopped tomatoes, minced onion and salt, pepper and vinegar to taste.


  1. EFE. Wayúu gastronomy enhances the largest indigenous people in Colombia. Obtained from eltiempo.com
  2. National System of Cultural Information. Gastronomy – La Guajira. Obtained from sinic.gov.co
  3. Colombia Travel Blog. La-Guajira-typical-food. Retrieved from seecolombia.travel
  4. La Guajira. Wayuu people. Retrieved from guajiralinda.org
  5. Editorial El Heraldo. The historical ingredients behind the typical sweets of the Coast. Obtained from elheraldo.co

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