Guatemalan Cuisine: Atol de arroz con chocolate

Atol de arroz con chocolate

With the first rains comes the sompopo de mayo (May’s giant flying ant), and the sweet atoles become available at your nearest Guatemalan snack street vendor. The omnipresent atol blanco yields some space for one or two Guatemalan sweet atoles. In the chilly morning with rain curtains, one goes out to get the refacción, or “refa” for short (mid morning Guatemalan snack) and the sweet atoles are now available. This is the menu available at the street vendor half block away from the office: Atol de arroz con leche on Mondays; Atol de arroz con chocolate on Tuesdays; Atol de platano on Wednesday; Atol de habas on Thursday and Atol de platano on Fridays.

Today’s entry is Atol de arroz con chocolate which basically is a thick and hot drink made with rice and chocolate; thus its name. To prepare Atol de arroz con cholate, you boil some water with cinnamon sticks, then add some rice and you wait for the rice to be soft and finally add Guatemalan real chocolate bars, a pinch of salt and maybe some sugar. You can add Mexican chocolate instead, if you can not find real Guatemalan chocolate, but do not use cocoa. What’s the ratio between water and rice, I don’t know, but this is a drink so the ratio has to leave you with thick yet drinkable beverage.

Guatemalan Abbreviations of Names Side Note: One more aspect of the Guatemalan idiosyncrasy is the tendency to abbreviate or simply chop names. That’s how Guatemala City becomes simply Guate or “Uate” if you listen carefully to the chicken bus helper (cholojo is the technical name for the helper); Chichicastenango becomes Chichi (be careful with the pronunciation if you don’t want to be slap on the face); La Antigua Guatemala becomes Antigua; Panajachel becomes Pana, Huehuetenango becomes Huehue; Totonicapan becomes Toto; and so on. Interesting enough, Guatemalans tend to only abbreviate names of towns located on the Western highlands and costal low lands, where most of the indigenous people live. You rarely, if not ever, hear a short name for Zacapa, El Progreso, Puerto Barrios, Jutiapa, Santa Rosa, et-cetera. Why do you think is that so?

© 2008 – 2013, Rudy Giron. All rights reserved.

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  • Claudia

    MM sounds good though I’ve never tried atol de habas.
    Your comment about pronunciation of chichi made me chuckle by myself @ my desk. . I think my cubemates are scared. ..

  • Herber

    well, it depends. You also have it for south cities, like Mazate for Mazatenango or Suchi for Suchitepéquez; Reu for Retalhuleu

    Good pic for the atol de Arroz con chocolate! I get to see the little bubbles I imagine because the atol está hirviendo!

  • Claudia, come back tomorrow to see atol de habas.

    Herber, yet Mazatenango, Suchitepéquez and Retalhuleu are on the Western side of the country, where the indigenous populations are, right?

  • Jennifer

    Help! Someone tell me how to pronounce “chichi” and how NOT to pronounce “chichi” so I don’t accidentally insult someone’s virtue!

  • MaggieD

    Jennifer – my question as well… 🙂
    So, Rudy, amazing, just when I thought you’d exhausted your supply of foods to write about…rice, cinnamon, and chocolate, yum! Exotic foods aside, the first thing I will do when I get to LAG this September is find the BIGGEST cup of coffee in town! Just the coffee makes it worth the trip.

  • Claudia

    HI Jennifer, you can pronounce it chee-chee, (long ee sounds) that would be the correct pronunciation (phonetically) as opposed to the ‘wrong’ way which would be chee-che (short e sound)which is slang for ‘boob’ Hope this helps.

  • Claudia

    Rudy, with your mention of Sompopos de Mayo, I remember my grandmother would fry them up squeeze some lime juice and those things were not bad . . tasted a bit like slightly burned popcorn. BUt maybe that was just a big thing in my colonia. We would all go out and catch sompopos for munching on.

  • Arlyn

    Thanks I really really needed this recipe for the atol de arroz con chocolate, actually my dad needed it, my mom is the one who usually makes it, and she is working, I was totally lost too. !!!

  • faisal

    “Atol de arroz con chocolate” as they call it in local Guatemalan language seems to have the perfect ingredients and the preparation mentioned for a delicious drink. I would love to visit this Spanish Colonial town and drink “Atol de arroz con chocolate” in the midst of coffee plantations and flower farms. Seems like a dream but maybe someday I will live my dream. If you want to find similar interesting things on chocolate you should visit

  • tia

    This information is very useful , the sad thing about arroz con chocolate is that, I’m sorry but there is no chocolate that can substitute the kind of chocolate that guatemalan use back there.But anyways try to cook it.

  • guatemalan

    OMG chichi XD yeah… we call it like that, i never seen anyone missunderstood that but anyways… there are short nicknames for every state, like Xela for Quetzaltenango, but don’t call them ”xeleños” that’s kind of racist for them 😛

  • guatemalan

    well, like in english it can depend on the sentence you are using it, still, i’ve never met someone who miss understood it