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Kiribati Food: 13 Must-Try Traditional Dishes

Kiribati Food: 13 Must-Try Traditional Dishes

Kiribati is an island country located in Oceania, in the Central Pacific Ocean. The country is surrounded by Nauru, Tuvalu, and Tokelau. Tarawa (also known as the capital of Kiribati) is situated on Bairiki Island. The country is known for its top notch fly fishing, amazing scuba diving experiences, and beautiful seabird wildlife.

The population of Kiribati is composed of various ethnicities, including indigenous I-Kiribati (96.2%), and other minor Chinese, European, Australian and New Zealand communities.

Most Popular Kiribati Dishes

Local food in Kiribati is mostly seafood-based and somewhat of an acquired taste. Coconuts are widely available and incredibly nutrient-dense, while fruits and vegetables are both scarce and expensive.

Some of the most widely consumed foods on the island include root crops, coconuts, fish and breadfruit. Rice is considered a staple in the country and is frequently accompanied by main dishes or simply served as a side dish.

Here are the absolute must-try dishes of Kiribati, along with recipes to try for yourself.

Te Bua Toro Ni Baukin

Te bua toro ni baukin is a dish prepared using cabbage, tinned beef, and pumpkin. This popular dish is made by grating pumpkin which is then combined with flour, milk, shredded cabbage, corned beef and baking powder. After seasoning with salt, lemon juice, and pepper, the mixture is baked until it turns brown.

For the best flavors, it is advised to eat Te Bua Toro Ni Baukin right away when it has finished cooking.

Batata Mash

Batata Mash

Batata mash is a kind of potato mash prepared using a variety of sweet potato called batata. This dish is particularly prepared with boiled and mashed batatas. They are mixed with butter and unsweetened coconut and made into a creamy mash.

Batata mash is usually eaten as a side dish.

Te Inai

Te Inai

Te inai, also known as fried parrotfish, is a dish made from inai, a colorful reef fish common in Kiribati. Typically served whole, the fish is first marinated in a combination of lemon juice, garlic, and seasonings before being deep-fried in hot oil until it is crispy.

Typically, mashed pumpkin purée and a crisp salad are served alongside fried parrotfish.

Roasted Lobster Tails with Coconut Curry Dipping Sauce

Roasted Lobster Tails with Coconut Curry Dipping Sauce is a dish that includes the roasting of lobster tails in the oven, served with a side of coconut curry dipping sauce.

The typical preparation for lobster tails is to simply brush them with a little bit of oil and bake them, while the creamy sauce is prepared by mixing curry powder, coconut milk, ginger, turmeric, and salt.

The dish is frequently served with rice and is generally eaten as an appetizer.

Kiribati Pumpkin Coconut Soup

Kiribati Pumpkin Coconut Soup

Kiribati pumpkin coconut soup is a dish prepared using pumpkin and coconut milk. Other ingredients added include ginger, salt, coconut oil, pepper, water and onion chives.

It can be eaten both hot as well as cold, and Kiribati locals tend to enjoy it as a starter dish.



Palusami is a dish prepared using coconut milk, young taro leaves, banana leaves, hot water, breadfruit leaves, curry powder, and black pepper. The taro-stuffed parcels and coconut cream are traditionally baked in an underground earthen oven.

Also considered the national dish of Kiribati, palusami is usually served on a serving platter and accompanied by a few garnishes on the sides.

Milk Rice

Milk rice is an aromatic dish that is prepared using short-grain rice, coconut milk, water, and salt. It is considered one of the most popular dishes in the country. It is generally recommended to serve milk rice with some side dish. This dish is packed with coconut and is usually cut into diamond shapes.

Mushroom Chicken

Mushroom Chicken

Mushroom chicken is a dish made using chopped mushrooms, black pepper, chicken stock, chicken wings and several other ingredients. This dish is extremely popular among the tourists that visit Kiribati.

It is common to accompany mushroom chicken with buttered noodles or mashed potatoes and roasted green beans. This dish can be easily stored in an airtight container and refrigerated for about 3 days or frozen for approximately 3 months.

Poke Bowls


Poke is basically a salad that is prepared using raw fish that is combined with sesame oil, soy sauce, and several other ingredients like seaweed and green onions. This dish is consumed either as an appetizer or a main course.

Poke is originally a Hawaiian dish, but it is widely consumed in Kiribati. It is usually accompanied by condiments, including limu and Hawaiian sea salt.

The modern variations of this dish’s seasonings include furikake (a combination of sesame seeds, dried fish, and dried seaweed), fish eggs, chopped dried or fresh chili pepper, and wasabi.



Sashimi is a dish that is prepared using raw fish which is sliced into thin pieces and accompanied by wasabi and soy sauce. The most widely used fish in this dish include salmon, tuna and yellowtail.

Originally from Japan, the term ‘sashmimi’ refers to a pierced body.


Kakau is a dish that is prepared using cassava root grated and combined with sugar, coconut milk and several other ingredients. The combination is then steamed until it becomes tender. Kakau is usually consumed as a sweet dish.


Tikokaula is a dish prepared using beef that is slow-cooked with ginger, spices, and garlic. The meat is then covered in banana leaves before steaming until tender.

Ika Mata

Ika Mata

Ika Mata is a dish that is prepared using raw fish that is cubed and combined with lemon juice and coconut milk. The combination is then added on top of rice and consumed as a main dish.

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