About Dominican Cooking

About Dominican Cuisine: Recipes are passed down from generation to generation in the kitchen of our Grandmas, Aunties and Moms. Learn more about it.

Aunt Clara’s Dominican Cooking, besides being a collection of recipes of the Dominican Republic, source of information about our cuisine, dishes, ingredients, and history is also thought as a help for those who want to learn about the Dominican culinary culture. Dominican cuisine is easy and spontaneous.

As in any other part of the world, recipes are passed down from generation to generation in the kitchen of our Grandmas, Aunties and Moms. Because the recipes are not always written down, we learn how to cook our vernacular dishes, yet we could hardly tell how much of “this” or what proportion of “that” is needed.

Origin and History of Dominican cooking

Dominican cuisine is the result of crossroads of many continents and many countries. Before the Spaniards arrived on the island of Hispaniola in 1492, the Taino Indians (native Hispaniolans) maintained a diet that reflected the resources found in their natural habitat, as well as their technological limitations. Fortunately, many of these dishes and ingredients have survived and today are an important part of the rich Dominican culinary culture.

With the arrival of the Spaniards, many new species of animals, vegetables, fruits and grains found their way to Hispaniola. The Spaniards also introduced many foods typical of the Mediterranean cuisine and others that had been passed down to the Spaniards by the Arabs during their 700-year domination of the Iberian peninsula.

About Dominican Cuisine: Recipes are passed down from generation to generation in the kitchen of our Grandmas, Aunties and Moms. Learn more about it.

The introduction of African slaves in 1503 presented yet another new (and important) gastronomical imprint on Hispaniola. It is worth noting that the African influence is almost as strong as the Spanish influence in the Dominican culture – and the cuisine is no exception.

Dominican fare is very similar to that found in other Latin American countries, especially Cuba and Puerto Rico – the only two other Spanish-speaking countries in the Caribbean. Some of the dishes are almost identical and only the names change.

Other countries and influences have found their way into our kitchens also. Pasta is a fundamental part of Dominican cooking; spaghetti was once called “the meat of the poor”. Exotic ingredients, like salted codfish and salted smoked herrings are commonly found in our kitchens.

About Dominican Cuisine: Recipes are passed down from generation to generation in the kitchen of our Grandmas, Aunties and Moms. Learn more about it.

How to cook Dominican dishes

Dominican cuisine is simple and its preparation doesn’t require, in most cases, that you do anything in advance. Some of the vernacular techniques are very common for Dominicans, but for the inexperienced cook and the ones being introduced to Dominican cuisine we are giving you a few tips.

We have tried here to keep it as simple as Auntie, Grandma or Mom would. Our recipes give you general instructions, but you must rely on your taste, intuition and common sense to make it a successful experience.

After all if we say “let simmer for 5 minutes” and at minute 4 it looks like it will start to burn, you should know what to do, right?

About Dominican Cuisine: Recipes are passed down from generation to generation in the kitchen of our Grandmas, Aunties and Moms. Learn more about it.

The base of Dominican cuisine is the sofrito, which is a mixture of spices and herbs, sautéed until the flavors are set free. Typically a sofrito incorporates thyme, salt, mashed garlic, parsley, onion (finely diced), green pepper, coriander/cilantro, tomatoes, tomato paste and vinegar. Many Dominican dishes are prepared using this mixture. Sometimes, to shorten the preparation time, people blend these ingredients and keep them in the fridge for a “ready-to-use” seasoning.

In some Dominican households it is very common to cook using too much oil, however this is not how most Dominicans cook. Our recipes here contain the minimum of fat necessary for each specific dish. We have tried to maximize the great nutritional advantages of Dominican cuisine and in most recipes we did not include a fixed amount of salt. That is because we want you to adjust salt to your own liking. As with most ingredients you should feel free to adjust them to your taste.

Breakfast for Dominicans is usually a light meal; the same dishes prepared for dinner are also prepared for breakfast, especially when one needs a hearty start to the day. A typical Dominican breakfast could consist of mangú accompanied by scrambled eggs and topped with sauteed onions. A few pieces of boiled cassava or another root is a good substitute for the mangú. This can also be accompanied by a few slices of fried Dominican cheese (its consistency and taste similar to that of Haloumi cheese, but is made of cow’s milk) and maybe some scrambled eggs a la dominicana. You can also accompany it with a couple of slices of deep-fried salami. A cup of cocoa, or latte is a suitable ending to this breakfast.

La comida (lunch) is the most important meal in the Dominican Republic. The family will gather around the table to share La Bandera Dominicana (the Dominican flag), our typical lunch. This consists of a combination of white rice, red beans, meat (chicken or beef) and salad or a side dish, and when prepared correctly, it becomes a meal that includes all food groups.

The fresh ingredients provide for a meal that is not only delicious but also healthy and nutritious. Accompany your lunch with a glass of ice water and end it with dessert, followed by a cup of coffee (un cafecito).

Dominican flag

About our recipes

Most of our recipes are traditional Dominican Recipes, from the Dominican repertoire, compiled and written by us. The Dominican diet is rich in fresh ingredients and simple food. Some of these dishes, however, are very sophisticated and require planning and preparation. We have tried to make the recipes as easy to understand as possible, and suggest substitutions whenever we know an ingredient might be particularly difficult to acquire outside the Dominican Republic. You will find here authentic Dominican dishes and meals, just like Mami makes them, however, and as we constantly remind our visitors, they may differ from the ones that you have tried in your own home. Remember that each family has their own cooking style and secrets.

Alongside the traditional Dominican fare we have also included  recipes of our creation, that may be inspired by the flavors and ingredients of our cuisine. You can see our traditional Dominican recipes here, which you can recognize because we have added the original name in Spanish, followed by the translation into English, or read about our top 10 must-try Dominican foods.

Buen provecho!

Aunt Clara

Comments

  1. Nicola

    Please can you help my daughter (6 Years old) has to do a project on the Dominican Republic and would like any information you may have on the food and the countries cultures.

    Kind Regards,

    Nicola

  2. Iris

    I can tell that this piece was upgraded, especially about the different groups that have contribute to the shaping of the cuisine. It also seems you’re trying to fill the needs of vegans too, since other sites are popping up with vegan Dominican food.

    • I was a vegan for a while more than two decades ago, and eat a vegetable-based diet for the most part. We have always written about how to adapt our diet to a vegan and vegetarian diet. :)

  3. Karen Cone

    Don Hawley happened to run across your post. Your name sounds familiar. Are you traveling in a large group? Aunt Clara- I appreciate you posting information about the Dominican Food. I will be in DR for the first time at the beginning of February. Are there seasonal foods in February? I can’t wait to try the local cuisine. Honestly, you’ve put my mind at ease on what to expect. Do the foods tend to be on the spicier side? Thank you in advance!

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