The Dominican Republic is a country occupying half of an island, shared with Haiti, in the middle of the Caribbean. It is well known as a popular tourist destination, particularly the Parque Nacional del Este, the City of Santo Domingo which has stunning colonial architecture, and the natural panorama of the Jarabacoa waterfall.
With a tropical climate, a varied terrain, a border with Haiti and a history of Spanish colonial rule, it’s no surprise that Dominican cuisine consists of exquisite dishes, flavors and ingredients unique to the region.
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Most Popular Dominican Dishes
Dominican cuisine is somewhat of a fusion of the influences of Spanish, African and Native American cuisines. The vast majority of dishes are made from ingredients grown locally on the island, and most dishes include either beef, chicken, pork or seafood.
Other staple ingredients include rice, yucca and sweet potatoes. Local fruits and vegetables also feature heavily in Dominican cuisine, which include tomatoes, lettuce, papaya, citrus, mango or passion fruit. So without further ado, here are the absolute must-try traditional dishes of the Dominican Republic along with recipes for you to try yourself at home.
Pollo Guisado is a type of stew prepared with boneless chicken breast cooked with adobo and sazo seasoning. It is often consumed as a lunch dish.
Mangu is a dish consisting of a blend of sprouted plantains, usually served with eggs, Dominican-style fried salami and a type of fried cheese called Queso Frito. Plantains are a popular staple ingredient in the Dominican republic and Mangu is one of the most common dishes where that utilises the vegetable. It is also sometimes known as Los Tres Golpes which translates to Three Shots.
La Bandera Dominicana
La Bandera Dominicana, also known as the Dominican flag, is a dish made from kidney beans, rice, plantain and chicken or pork. It is also often served with a basic salad.
The name La Bandera Dominica is a result of the dish’s colors (very loosely) relating to the colors of the Dominican Republic flag. The white of the rice, the red of the kidney beans and then the blue is a slight stretch, relating to the meat.
Sancocho is a traditional soup dish which consists of vegetables such as corn, yucca, cilantro and pumpkin. As for the meat, many serve Sancocho with a variety of mixed meats such as pork, chicken and beef.
It is usually served on special occasions such as New Year’s. But nowadays, many restaurants serve the dish on a daily basis for tourists to enjoy.
Ensalada Verde is a basic green salad made from grated cabbage or lettuce, tomatoes, boiled beets, radishes, thyme, peppers and red onions. The green salad is commonly served by most restaurants in the Dominican Republic and can be eaten on its own or as a side dish to other main courses.
Habichuelas Guisadas, or Dominican Beans, is a soup made from legumes along with onions, peppers and garlic. Every house in the country has their own version of the Habichuelas, typically with their own combination of spices and nuts. It can be eaten as either a dinner or breakfast dish.
Tostones is a dish which simply consists of fried green plantains. They are popular throughout the Caribbean where they are eaten much like french fries, as a side that can be dipped in a sauce. Popular sauces include aji or mojo.
Habichuelas con Dulce
Habichuelas con Dulce is a dessert consisting of boiled red beans, coconut milk, cinnamon, nutmeg, raising and sugar. It is typically eaten with cookies or a flatbread and is particularly popular at Easter time.
Lechon is quite simply a whole pig cooked slowly on a spit roast. The name translates as milk in Spanish, which is a reference to the fact that a piglet is used rather than a full grown pig.
Refresco Rojo is one of the Dominican Republic’s signature drinks. It literally translates to Red Soda and is a raspberry flavored drink that is widely consumed throughout the country.
Majarete, also known as Dominican corn pudding, is a traditional dessert prepared using freshly-cut immature corn, milk (usually coconut milk) and several different spices.
The dessert is known to be creamy and smooth and is typically served cold. Garnished with ground cinnamon, this dish is usually consumed for breakfast or dessert.
Chimichurri is a green Argentinian sauce made from a mixture of parsley, garlic, olive oil, vinegar, paprika powder, and often added spices such as coriander, oregano, and even lemon.
This sauce is often used as an ingredient for soaking burgers before cooking. This is what makes Chimichurri burgers so distinctive and unique.
Morir Sonando is a traditional orange juice and milk beverage consisting of a mixture of fresh orange juice, evaporated milk, sugar and vanilla poured over ice. As well as being a popular summer time drink, morir sonando is also used as traditional remedy. It is offered to persons who are weak, women after giving birth or those who are anemic.
Pastelón is a type of layered casserole made with cheese, plantains, and a tomato-based beef filling containing peppers, onions and seasonings. The dish is similar to Italian lasagna in its structure while its ingredients give a distinct Central American twist.
The inclusion of fried plantains alongside the savory mixture of beef and seasonings gives Pastelón a sweet and salty flavor.
Guarapo (Sugarcane Juice)
Guarapo is a traditional drink made from sugarcane juice enjoyed throughout Latin America. To make guarapo, fresh sugarcane stalks are crushed to extract the juice. The juice is then served as a natural, sweet and thirst-quenching drink. In some variations, guarapo is mixed with lime juice or served over ice for added flavor and coolness.