The country has a diverse population, with people of African, Asian, and European descent. The official language is Dutch, but many Surinamese people also speak Sranan Tongo, a Creole language.
Suriname has a rich culture, influenced by the various groups that have lived there throughout history. The country was colonized by the Dutch in the 17th century due to the transatlantic slave trade.
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Most Popular Suriname Dishes
Suriname’s history has had a significant impact on it’s cuisine, which has been influenced by African, Asian and European cuisines.
After slavery was abolished in the 19th century, servants from India and other parts of Asia were brought to Suriname to work on the plantations.
Surinamese cuisine is characterized by its use of fresh herbs and spices, as well as its bold and complex flavors. And a variety of street foods are popular in Suriname, such as barbecued meats, fried snacks, and fresh fruit juices.
Here are the absolute must-try traditional dishes of Suriname along with recipes to try for yourself.
Pom (Chicken Caserole)
Pom is a casserole made from grated root vegetables, chicken, and spices; this dish is considered the national dish of Suriname. The dish gets its name from the word pomtajer, a root vegetable similar to the potato that is grated on top of the casserole.
Pom is served at special occasions and gatherings, such as birthdays. Alternative variations of the dish may use other meats, or taro root or cassava root grated on top.
Bami is a stir-fried noodle dish made with egg noodles, vegetables, and meat or shrimp. Bami was influenced by Indonesian Bami Goreng and has similar ingredients.
It is a popular breakfast dish in Suriname and is often made using meat and vegetables leftover from yesterday’s dinner.
Roti is a flatbread made from wheat flour and served with a spicy sauces and vegetables. In Suriname, roti is often enjoyed with many different meat-based curries, hard-boiled eggs, potatoes, onions and a range of spiced dipping sauces.
It is usually made from wheat flour, but may also be made from rice or cassava flour instead. The dough is rolled out into flat, round sheets and cooked until it becomes crispy.
Roti can be found in many other countries, such as Malaysia and India.
Originally from Indonesia, nasi is a fried rice dish made with shrimp, chicken, or pork and flavored with soy sauce and spices.
Nasi is often served with fried plantain, peanuts or pickled cucumber. In Suriname, this dish is a popular way to use up your leftovers as any meats and vegetables can be incorporated along with leftover rice.
Saoto Soup (Spicy Chicken Soup)
Saoto Soup is a traditional soup made with spicy chicken, noodles and vegetables, and is usually served with crispy fried onions on top. It’s simple recipe makes for a popular comfort food in Suriname, particularly during the colder seasons.
Saoto soup was introduced to Suriname by Javanese migrants and it is inspired by Indonesian soto soup. This dish is sometimes referred to as Blauwgrond Soup referring to a Javanese area of Suriname where you can easily find a bowl of saoto soup to buy.
Loempia (Spring Roll)
A popular snack in Suriname is loempia, which is inspired by Indonesian spring rolls. These are similar to a Chinese egg roll, but instead are filled with spiced ground beef or chicken, instead of vegetables.
These are enjoyed as a popular snack or side dish to accompany other noodle or curry dishes.
Bakabana (Fried Plantain)
Another dish with Indonesian origin, bakabana is a sweet and savory snack made from ripe plantains, which are battered and deep-fried. Bakabana is served with a spicy peanut sauce to dip into.
Bakabana is often served with rice or vegetables on the side. This dish is a very popular Surinamese street food and can be found for sale at markets and by street vendors.
Moksi Meti is a mixed meat and rice dish often made with chicken, pork, and vegetables. It has Asian, African and European influences in both ingredients and methodology; moksi translates to ‘mixed’ and meti translates to ‘meat’.
The meats are marinated in rum or wine before being slow cooked which gives this dish a rich flavor.
Pastei (Meat Pie)
Pastei is a Surinamese meat pie made with a flaky crust and filled with chicken or beef and vegetables. This dish is often eaten at celebrations and special occasions.
Heri heri is a dish made from salt fish, boiled cassava, sweet potato and plantain, served with a spicy peanut sauce.
It is a popular, nutritious meal served across Suriname; heri heri is usually served with a boiled egg, green vegetables and pickles on the side.