Garnachas as any Belizean knows are a common snack or party food. I personally grew up eating them at recess while in primary school. Students could buy a garnacha for 15 cents a piece. If you had a shilling you could get one garnacha and a ten cent ideal. Amazing.

This Belizean recipe for garnachas tries to stay true to the simplicity of the real thingógarnachas simplicity is part of their beauty. This recipe for garnaches will make about 12 garnachas or enough for 4 people. Maybe.


  • Whole Fried Corn Tortillas (Or Fry Your Own, See Below)
  • Black Beans (Basically, a pureed black bean soup but you may substitute a can of black beans)
  • 1 Large Onion
  • Habanero Pepper (to taste)
  • Vinegar
  • Asiago Cheese about 1/5 lb. Grated (In Belize you would use Dutch ďHard/Red Back CheeseĒ
  • Salt (approx. 1/4 tsp. per cup of diced onions)

Recipe Instructions:

Belizean Black Beans

  1. Start with your Belizean Black Bean Soup, or can of black beans. In a blender puree the beans until itís mostly smooth consistency. The result of blending is often too watery for garnachas, so you will want to simmer the pureed beans over low to medium heat until enough liquid evaporates to thicken the beans. Use lower heat to prevent burning the beans.

  2. Everything you need to make Belizean Garnacha Onion Cortido

  3. While the beans are simmering down, dice one large onion (about a cup to a cup and half of diced onions). Place the onions in a large jar. Fill the jar white distilled vinegar.

  4. The Finished Belizean Onion Cortido for Garnaches

  5. Carefully dice the habanero peppers. Carefully. You donít want to touch these peppers and then your face for example. It will not feel nice. If your knife skills are not ďchef levelĒ use a fork to hold the pepper down while you chop it. Add the pepper to the onion and vinegar. Add a pinch or two of salt to this mixture. Salt to taste.

  6. Stale Corn Tortillas Are Re-born Belize Garnaches Shells

  7. If you opt to buy the whole fried tortillas instead of making your own, keep in mind itís not the same. Often the factory made shells are terribleÖ In Belize ganarches are made using day old or stale corn tortillas which are ideal for frying because of the low water content. If you live State side itís hard to find fresh tortillas to begin with but store bought ones work ok for this. If you donít plan ahead and dry your tortillas you can place them in a warmed oven directly on a rack (do not pile them up) to evaporate some water before frying (donít bake the tortillas, you want to simulate stale tortillas, not cook them). We recommend using peanut oil for frying the tortillas. Added bonus, you can make tortillas chips while you are at it.

  8. Fry Whole Corn Tortillas in Very Hot Peanut Oil

  9. In a pot, or cast iron pan put about 1 inch of peanut oil. Heat the oil to very hot. We like to try it for heat by using a single tortilla chip. When itís hot enough the chip will float immediately and bubble vigorously. Cooking time for a whole corn tortilla will vary depending on the heat. You are looking for nice golden color but donít burn the tortillas.

  10. Bonus: Fresh Corn Tortilla Chips

  11. When you tortillas have cooled (you can prepare them a day ahead) spread the thickened black beans over the corn tortilla shells. Add a spoon or so of Belizean Onion Cortido, and top it off with a spinkling of asiago cheese.
  12. For a recent party we made star shaped shells using a cookie cutter for a little added personality and perfect people pleasing party snack Belize style.