Dominican cuisine reflects the country’s rich history and culture. With multiple influences of Spain, indigenous Taino, the Middle East, and Africa, it possesses diverse savory dishes. They are hearty and satisfying, comprising meat and root vegetables like plantains, yucca, or squash. Except for the name, the recipes of their delicacies are similar to that of other Latin American countries. The addition of spices and condiments makes these delectable food items more relishing.
Chapea is a delicious vegetable stew made with rice alongside beans and vegetables like auyama squash, plantains, carrots, green peppers, onions, and garlic. The addition of cilantro and sour orange juice and toppings of diced avocado enhances its taste. It is a comfort food, often accompanied with longaniza, a Dominican sausage. There is also a meat version of this dish prepared with smoked ham or pork.
Niños envueltos are stuffed cabbage rolls cooked in a homemade tomato sauce. The fillings that go into it include ground beef, rice, and vegetables like bell peppers, garlic, basil, and onions. They are baked or simmered until the rolls are tender and thoroughly cooked. Rich and flavorful, they are best eaten with bread and salad. It is a traditional dish with Middle Eastern roots, whose name translates to ‘wrapped children’ and that is exactly how the cabbage rolls appear, wrapped and snuggled with care.
Chimichurris are Dominican burgers commonly found at street-side food stalls. It consists of a juicy meat patty, seasoned with spices like red pepper flakes, oregano, garlic, and parsley. Toppings of shredded cabbage, tomatoes, onions, and a mayo-ketchup sauce also go into the burger bun. A savory item, an authentic chimichurri burger is always teamed with a glass of cold beer.
Yaroa is a traditional dish from Santiago, made from French fries or mashed sweet plantains and layered with meat and cheese. The meat might be a combination of beef, pork, chicken, or any one of them. Condiments like mayonnaise, ketchup, and mustard go as toppings. It is well-known street food, sold by vendors in food trucks, and often enjoyed as a midnight snack. Traditionally, served in styrofoam boxes, Yaroa is also a favorite among club-goers.
Mangú is a traditional dish having boiled and mashed green plantains as its main ingredient. Red onions, sautéed in vinegar, go on top of it. Dominicans also call it los tres golpes, meaning ‘three hits,’ referring to the fried eggs, cheese, and salami that serve as accompaniments. Other versions also exist, one in which the salami and cheese are fried after coating in flour to get a crispy texture. Though one can consume it any part of the day, Mangú is a quintessential breakfast food of the Dominican Republic.
La Bandera Dominicana, meaning ‘the Dominican flag,’ is the country’s national dish. Primarily served during lunchtime, it comprises stewed red kidney beans, white rice, and meat like beef, chicken, or pork. The rice is long-grained, cooked in a way that it is tender but not sticky. A layer of ‘concon’ created by the rice gives it a crispy, golden appearance. Pairing it with side dishes like salads or fried plantains makes the meal complete and fulfilling.
Chivo Guisado is a traditional goat stew prepared with chunks of goat meat, tomatoes, onion, garlic, peppers, oregano, and orange juice. The flavor of oregano remains inherent in the dish, even before added, since the local goats feed on the wild ones. Aromatic and peppery, this delicacy goes well with chenchén, a Dominican cracked corn pilaf.
Carne Guisada, meaning ‘stewed meat’ in Spanish, is a simple yet satisfying winter meal. Beef cut into chunks is the main ingredient cooked with vegetables like potatoes and carrots. Seasonings like cumin, cilantro, garlic powder, and oregano enhance its taste. A hearty meal, it is often served with rice for lunch or dinner. Though many recommend it as a topping on a flour tortilla, rice and potatoes also go as suitable accompaniments.
Pica Pollo is authentic Dominican-style fried chicken, mostly enjoyed as street food. It can be simple and easy, made by boiling the chicken pieces and marinating with salt, pepper, garlic paste, lemon, and oregano. Before deep frying, they are dipped in a flour mixture. Crispy, juicy, and flavorful, they are often served with a side dish like plantain fries or rice and a cold beer as accompaniment.
Sancocho is a traditional Dominican stew made of many types of meats and vegetables. Traditionally, it consisted of seven types of meat like smoked pork chops, longaniza, beef, and chicken. But, many versions now have at least three of them, depending on one’s choice. These meats are seasoned and stewed along with root vegetables like yucca, plantain, and butternut squash. Other ingredients going into the preparation include corn, garlic, lemon, cilantro, salt, and oregano. The stew, having the richness of meats and vegetables, is fulfilling by itself but can also be served with rice, avocado, and fresh cilantro.
Tostones are crispy and Dominican savory vegan items, also shared by other Latin American countries like Puerto Rico and Cuba. They are unripe green or yellow plantains that are twice-fried to get a crispy and golden appearance. Sprinkling seasons like salt and pepper make them tastier. Dominicans usually serve it as a side dish, but it can also be enjoyed as a snack with a garlic dip.
Pasteles en Hoja is a Dominican version of the Mexican tamales. It comprises dough or ‘masa’ prepared by combining green plantains and other starchy root vegetables like yams, taro, or green bananas. A meat filling usually goes into it made with ground beef, pork, or chicken. As preparing it is a time-taking process, it is reserved for Christmas and other special occasions.
Catibias are Dominican yucca empanadas, the dough of which is made with tapioca flour. They are stuffed with meat, preferably beef or pork, along with vegetables and spices. The vegan version has a filling of different kinds of vegetables like bell peppers, tomatoes, onions, and garlic. After adding the stuffings, they are fried till golden brown. Served hot, they can be eaten as snacks, having a crunchy outer layer while soft and juicy inside.
Dominican quipe or kipe is similar to Lebanese kibbeh but with some moderations. It comprises a crispy outer shell prepared from bulgur wheat, onion, beef, and spices. A filling of cooked meat and tomato sauce is stuffed inside these shells. They’re typical street food but can be prepared and enjoyed at home as an appetizer or a side dish.
Habichuelas Guisadas are stewed beans, a staple of Dominican cuisine. As it is a meatless dish, it is excellent for vegetarians. Any red beans, including red kidney, pinto, or cranberry, form its main ingredient. They are soaked, boiled, stewed with bell peppers, oregano, tomato sauce, and garlic. Thick and creamy in texture, they are commonly served with a rice dish like Arroz Blanco. They are also a main addition in the national dish, La Bandera Dominicana.
Pollo Guisado is a chicken stew that other Latin American countries also share. The combination of chicken and veggies like bell peppers, tomatoes, onions make it an appealing and wholesome dish. Braising it in a tomato-based sauce seasoned with oregano, black pepper, salt, and cilantro makes the meat tender and enhances the taste. It can be topped on arroz blanco or served with a side dish like tostones, salads, or beans.
Dominican empanadas, usually enjoyed as street food, mainly have ground beef in them. The dough pockets are buttery and crispy, made with flour, sugar, and salt. Ingredients that go in the marinating process include pepper, salt, garlic, oregano, and onion. They are cooked in tomato paste before filling inside the pockets. Once fried till golden brown, they are usually served hot.
As Dominican Republic cuisine is a blend of many cultures, the list of mouth-watering dishes goes on. Some of them worth mentioning are Mofongo, Yaniqueques, and Chicharron. Besides these savory items, Dominican desserts are no less delicious.
Typical Dominican Foods: Sancocho, La Bandera Dominicana, Yaroa
Best Dominican Breakfast Foods: Mangú, Tostones
Best Dominican Street Foods: Chimichurris, Yaroa, Quipe/ Kipe, Empanadas
Best Dominican Christmas and Thanksgiving Foods: Pasteles en Hojas, Quipe/ Kipe
Best Dominican Vegan Foods: Habichuelas Guisadas, Mangú, Tostones
Best Dominican Side Dishes: Tostones, Quipe/ Kipe
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