The occasional visitor could be forgiven for thinking that because the Dominican Republic is a small country we have no regional cuisines. Up to a point, this is not far from the truth, but to any Dominican it is obvious that each region is best known for certain dishes.
Follow us in a culinary tour.
The northwestern region of the Dominican Republic, known to Dominicans as “La Linea” (the border) is an area with impressive coasts, beautiful beaches of golden sand, tropical desert forests, cacti and mesquite covered hills and salt plains.
Oregano grows wild in the area and the large goat population that feeds on it, allegedly seasoning themselves as they walk and breathe, are the best known part of its cuisine. The flagship dish of the northwest is chivo liniero (or picante), a dish consisting of braised, spicy goat seasoned with aromatic herbs and abundant oregano.
In the coastal area there is a small but important fishing industry. Seafood dishes, especially lambí (conch) are very popular.
The northern region shares some dishes with the Cibao valley (the central part of the island). The valley is an agricultural region, with fertile land, majestic mountains and a moderate climate. Dishes like guanimo and buch’e perico are best known and loved here and it’s not rare to find that here some dishes are known by different names than the rest of the country. Such is the case of maíz caquiao, known in the south as chacá.
Santo Domingo and the southeast have always been a magnet for immigrants, which has left an imprint on the region’s cuisine. At the end of the ninetieth century a wave of immigrants from the Middle East arrived on our shores and settled mainly in San Pedro de Macorís and Santo Domingo. Kipes and tipili are descendants of the Lebanese kibbeh and tabouleh. Our niños envueltos and arroz con fideos evolved from the Egyptian malfouf mahshi and ruz bil shereya respectively.
Another group of immigrants who settled in the southeast were the “cocolos”, freed blacks from the British Caribbean, and who gave San Pedro guavaberry, an alcoholic beverage, and johnny cake, which we turned into yaniqueques.
The southwestern cuisine bears the imprint of our African ancestors. Dishes like chambre, chacá and chenchén originated in this region. The first one is a bean-based stew, the second and third are corn-based dishes, sweet and savory, respectively.
The beautiful Samaná peninsula, impressive and long-ago coveted by many an empire, yet it lived in isolation until relatively recently. With coconut groves that extend as far as the eye can see, it’s not surprising coconut is a fundamental part of its cuisine.
Pescado con coco and moro de guandules con coco have become favorites nationwide. In our trips there we also “discovered” the delicious pan de coco, a dish we hope will also become known throughout the rest of the country.
We invite you to discover our land and to enjoy this important aspect of our culture.