The Surinamese cuisine
By: Tania van Velthuizen
Be enticed by Maroon and Amerindian food and drinks! Wiggle your hips after a glass of Casiri rum! Taste a Roti with curry chicken, enjoy meat on a stick, and have a meal that’s is traditionally served on a children’s party, the famous BBmetR!
The 5 main cuisines in Suriname
Suriname is a melting pot of cultures, and each culture came with its own food. Basic foods include rice, plantain, cassava, and roti. The various cultures have 1 thing in common after being together for decades and that is the String beans. This is a long kind of pea and served with almost every dish! Are you a vegetarian or do you like meat or fish? No problem, in Paramaribo, the capital city of Suriname you will find a nice place to enjoy a taste full dinner.
Food from all corners of the world
Restaurants that serve European or Thai food are also in abundance in Paramaribo. Take into account that in these restaurants European prices are the standard! The Brazilian and Lebanese cuisine are also present but less known. For delicious Thai food, I advise the Garden of Eden at Virolastraat, and do you like steak? Go to Mighty Racks at the Van Sommelsdijk street and for Brazilian food visit restaurant Petisco at Tourtonnelaan.
As said before Surinamese food does not have starters and desserts. Usually, it only a main dish that consists of rice, vegetable with a piece of fish or meat. If you ask for Surinamese food in Suriname, people will send you to a Creole restaurant.
The 4 most popular Surinamese dishes
Pastei is also an oven dish with vegetables and chicken, can also be eaten with rice and vegetables. Yes, yes I know too many vegetables if you do not like vegetables do not order this dish!
Brown beans with rice is a pea dish with chicken. This dish is also known as ‘BBmetR’ (brown beans with rice) and children love it!
The well-known dish in the Creole kitchen is Pom, this is an oven dish with chicken and pomtayer (kind of tuber). It is eaten with rice, vegetables, and chicken made with soy sauce.
My favorite Creole dish is Moksi alesi: steamed rice with meat, peas, fish, meat, and sometimes vegetables in it. Moksi means mix, in fact, everything you have in your cupboard can be used for this dish. So, there is not a fixed recipe for Moksi alesi. It is also an ideal way to cook leftovers or scraps!
Creole sweets & drinks are:
Sweet treats that you usually get at a party are Maizena cookies, Bojo, Viado, yellow and brown cake.
Drinks that are typical for creole parties are Ginger beer and Orgeade both non-alcoholic drinks.
Restaurant tip: You can find delicious Creole food at Restaurant Gadri situated behind the building of the National Assembly.
For a cozy atmosphere and delicious Javanese food, you should go to Blauwgrond. No, no, nothing is blue, it is the name of the area. There are various restaurants that serve only Javanese food. The best, in my opinion, is Warung Resa! In this place, I do not need to look at the menu! Delicious beef saté! Saté is pieces of chicken or beef threaded to a thin stick and put on the BBQ, served with peanut sauce. Try the Saoto soup (chicken soup) and Bakabana (fried ripe plantain with a flour coat). I traditionally end with Dawet, a rose-colored Javanese sweet drink with coconut milk. My husband likes Nasi (brown fried rice) with chicken and Petjil (various vegetables cooked in water and mixed with a peanut sauce).
The restaurant tip for a Javanese restaurant is Sarinah (at Gemenelandsweg).
Suriname Indian food
The best known Hindustani dish is Roti. This is a salted pancake eaten with curry chicken or duck, curry potato and string beans. With the vegetarian version, you get 2 different vegetables in curry. A few known salted snacks are Barra and Phulauri. Both should be eaten with chutney (Hindustani sambal) and can be found at every Hindustani wedding. Of course, my mother’s is the most delicious!
Restaurant tip: the most delicious Roti can be bought at Roti shop Joosje (at Zwartenhovenbrugstraat) and at Krish Rotishop (at Kwattaweg).
Maroon and Amerindian food
The food from the inhabitants of the interior (the descendants of the Maroons and Indians) consists mainly of Cassava bread. Besides this, plantain and tuberous plants are eaten with salted / fresh fish or game. Game comes from the animals in the forests, such as pakira (wild boar) or rabbit. The well-known soup of the Amerindian is Pepre watra (free translation, pepper water), mostly with game. Casiri is a rum made of cassava by the Amerindians and this makes the evening only more exciting!
In the interior, the Maroons cook for days if there is an important event, such as, for example, a funeral, whereby the whole village comes together. The evening before there is even a big party. The Afingi soup is the most popular made with fish or meat and cassava. Sweets served at special events are Mindri foeroe (cassava bread filled with stuffed coconut), Monga (cake from rice flour and coconut), and Bakoeba goma (cake of ripe plantain). If it is the peanut season, you can enjoy peanut cocoa! This warm peanut drink is made the same way as warm cocoa milk: warm milk, sugar, and crushed peanuts.
The Chinese are a population group in Suriname. The first Chinese plantation workers came to Suriname in 1853. After their contract on the plantations had expired, they went into the retail trade. Nowadays still many Chinese, immigrate to Suriname. These new migrants are called ‘Salt Water Chinese’ in Suriname. Chinese restaurants are in abundance in Suriname. The dishes in Chinese restaurants differ from those in the Netherlands. I like the sweet and sour Koebi fish. You get the whole fish on your plate! Tjauwmin (fried noodles) or Tjauwvan (fried rice) goes best with it.
Restaurant tip: Restaurant Chimin at Cornelis Jongbawstraat is ‘the place to be’ for Chinese food!
I think in Suriname every guest will find a kitchen they like. But be aware of the spiciness, hot means really hot! So do not leave Suriname without trying local Surinamese food! Do you want to try Indian cuisine at home? Watch this movie and see how to make Roti with chicken curry step bij step all by your self!
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Tania van Velthuizen is the owner of Pejego Tours. She was born and raised in Suriname. She studied Surinamese law and loves to travel. Before going to Europe, she worked at the Ministry of Regional Development, so she visited every bit of the Amazon rainforest. At the time, she fell in love with everything it had to offer, including the Amerindians and the Maroons, the fauna and flora. She also wrote a book on the land rights of Indigenous people and the descendants of the Maroons.
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