The Netherlands has far more to its cultural food heritage than stamppot and bitterballen. Luckily for our taste buds, Surinamese food is widespread on the Dutch food scene.
So how exactly did Surinamese food become popular in the Netherlands? Well, to answer this question, we need to take a quick look at the historical ties between the two countries. 🧐
Suriname and the Kingdom of the Netherlands
In the 17th century, the land was a plantation colony to the Netherlands that relied on slavery for sugar cultivation.
Then, between 1954 -1975, Suriname was a constituent country belonging to the Kingdom of the Netherlands, and in 1975, it finally gained independence.
Nonetheless, the country still has strong, social, cultural, and economic ties with its former coloniser. For instance, the official language of Suriname is Dutch.
A cultural melting pot
Apart from the links between the Netherlands and Suriname, the country is also influenced by Asian, African, and other European traditions — truly a cultural melting pot. This has also resulted in a unique blend of cuisine, and it is this cuisine that has become so popular here in the Netherlands.
So, we’ve spoken about the historical bit long enough. Now, let’s take a look at what you’re really here for — the food. 😍 Here’s a list of four classic Surinamese dishes, covering all the parts of your meal, from the appetiser, main course, side, and dessert.
So let’s start with the snacks. Bakabana (try saying that 10 times in a row) is a type of fritter using plantains — the larger, slightly more savoury sister of the famous banana.
And of course, it’s famous here in the Netherlands because the Dutch like their fried snack foods. It can be eaten as something sweet, but also as a savoury snack along with some peanut sauce.
This delicious dish comprises of chicken, citrus juice (i.e. orange) and ‘lufo pomtayer’ also known as “arrowleaf elephant ear,” which is a tropical plant.
In both the Netherlands and in Suriname, Pom is pretty popular. The dish has a creole and Jewish origin and was actually introduced to Suriname by Portuguese-Jewish plantation owners who initially used potatoes.
But Potatoes weren’t available in Suriname. So instead, they used the root of the tayer plant.
Many places in the Netherlands take this to the next level by serving up a broodje pom. Talk about fusion.
And here’s how you can make it at home.
If you’re a fan of Indian food, chances are you’ve had a ‘roti’ before, a type of flatbread that is served alongside curries.
And Surinamese cuisine has its own variation, which differs slightly. Roti accompanies various Surinamese curries and meat dishes and is available at virtually all Surinamese restaurants — score!
And finally, we’re talking sweet stuff (aka dessert). A flourless, confection, ‘bojo cake‘ contains a fusion of raisins, rum, cassava, coconut, sugar coconut milk, and almond extract, baked to perfection.
Served warm or cold with a dollop of whipped cream, you’ll be in heaven.
Surinamese food is prevalent across the country, so you won’t have any trouble finding a nice place to grab a bite or order from.
What’s your favourite Surinamese dish? And your favourite Surinamese restaurant in the Netherlands? Tell us in the comments below!
Editor’s Note: This article was originally published in May 2020, and was fully updated in November 2021 for your reading pleasure.