Category Archives: CULTURE

The Culture of the Dominican Republic.

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Beverage Recipe – 1

Beverage Recipes Page 1

There are so many great drinks and beverages made in Dominican Republic. They use all the fresh fruits and other ingredients that are readily available. The cold drinks are perfect for refreshment during the hot Caribbean summers and the hot drinks are perfect when the Dominicans think it is cold outside at 70°F.

Jugo de Avena/Oatmeal Juice or Drink | Té Jengibre/Ginger Tea | Jugo Tamarindo/Tamarind Juice

Jugo de Avena / Oatmeal Juice or Drink

Jugo de Avena is easy to make and it is a hearty beverage served any time.

Recipe:
Soak 1 part oat flakes (If you want to make 4 servings start with 1 cup of oat flakes) in 2 parts of water for about an hour. It is best to use a finer cut of oats for this drink.

Blend for about a minute and strain out the lumps.

Take 4 parts evaporated milk (or regular milk if you want it to be less rich and have a lot fewer calories) and 2 parts ice to make the milk really cold.

Add 2 parts of juice with sugar added to taste. The more traditional juice to use is jugo de china/orange juice. You can also use lime juice, papaya, pineapple or a blend of juices. Try apple juice with a little cinnamon added.

Make sure to stir the milk/avena mixture when you add the juice to keep it from curdling. Adding the sugar to the juice helps guard against this happening.

It is like a liquid glass of oatmeal, a great way to get your fiber and enjoy it.

Té Jengibre / Ginger Tea

Té Jengibre in the cup with a cinnamon stick for those cold winter days.
Té Jengibre in the cup with a cinnamon stick for those cold winter days.

Té Jengibre is a traditional Christmas drink (more on Dominican Christmas foods). It is said to keep you warm on those cold, tropical Dominican nights (that is a joke). It is a staple for the winter months.

Boil about 5 cups of water and add 8 cinnamon sticks. Boil until the color of the water is a very light brown and it has a little cinnamon flavor, maybe about 5 minutes.

Add about 1/2 cup of peeled, thinly sliced ginger to the cinnamon water. Simmer together for about 5 more minutes adding water as some evaporates.

Strain and add sugar. You can add the sugar to the mix or add it to the cups separately.

The smell is wonderful. It is truly a warming drink. Served sweet, Dominican style it is heavenly.

Some of the virtues of ginger:
Ginger is said to keep away colds because of its warming effect.

It is also good for calming the stomach (how many times did your mother give you ginger ale when you had an upset stomach?). It aids in digestion by getting rid of gasses and breaks down fatty foods.

It is said to enhance circulation and be very stimulating.

People say it is an Aphrodisiac probably because of it’s warming qualities.

Ginger is served with Sushi because it is said to kill parasites in raw fish.

Jugo Tamarindo

Jugo Tamarindo / Tamarind Juice is sweet yet sour beverage. It is high in acid, sugar, B vitamins, calcium and in fiber (used as a natural laxative).

Recipe – Use the very ripe tamarind to make juice.
Remove the pulp from ripened pods or buy in bags with the shell already removed. Remove the seeds. It is easiest to just get your hands into the mix and squish it around to get the seeds loose.

The pulp of the tamarind
The pulp of the tamarind

I usually mix 1 part tamarind to 5 parts of water and 1/2 part sugar depending on how sweet you like it (that would be 1 cup pulp, 5 cups water and 1/2 cup sugar).

Put it all in a blender and mix it up good.

Strain the pulp, pour in your glass, add some ice and enjoy.

Nice cold Jugo Tamarindo in my glass
Nice cold Jugo Tamarindo in my glass

More about tamarindo in the Grown in Dominican Republic pages.

Recipes 3 – Yuca

Yuca

One of my favorite tubers (I never tried yuca until I moved to Dominican Republic) is Sweet Yuca (jooka). It is also known as Manioc or cassava root. When it is cooked and prepared just right it has a subtle sweetness that is just right. Here are some simple recipes for cooking up some yuca.

Yuca Boiled | Yuca Mashed | Yuca Fries | Yuca Chips

Yuca is a brown to black skinned tuber sometimes it is covered with wax to preserve it. Pealing yuca can be a bit of a hassle but it is well worth the trouble. Use a sharp knife or vegetable peeler. Cut it into smaller sections to make the peeling easier. Cut off the ends of the tuber. Remove the brownish black outside layer and also the pink inside layer (it is pink on the outside and white on the inside) that is between the brown outside layer and the tasty flesh that you will be cooking. When you get going with the outer skin removal it is easy to get a long slice in the skin and try to remove the outside in one long piece. After peeling place the pieces in water to preserve their color.

*For more information and the history of yuca go to the Grown in Dominican Republic page about Yuca/ Cassava.

Yuca waxed to last longer
Yuca waxed to last longer

Boiled Yuca

To cook Boiled Yuca cut the yuca pieces into about 3 to 4 inch lengths and cut the pieces in half lengthwise, or in quarters if they are really fat.

Place these pieces in a pot covering them with water to which you add some salt or you can flavor with some stock or bouillon for a different taste.

Bring the water to a boil in an uncovered pot then turn down the heat to keep the water at a simmer.

Stir them occasionally so they don’t stick to the pot and to boil them uniformly.

When you can stick a knife in these pieces and the knife slips out easily (about 1 hour or so) remove them from the heat.

Leave them in the hot water until you are ready to serve (if you are going to store them for later or have leftovers store them in this same water – they will last about 3 days in the fridge).

Some of the yuca will have hard centers which you can easily remove once they are cooked.

They are wonderful served with sautéd onions (red are the best and prettiest for this dish) on top.

Place on your plate, put into your mouth and enjoy!

Mashed Yuca

You prepare the yuca as above but cook a little longer until they are falling apart and are really mushy.

Place in a pan and mash them up (the texture might not be really smooth but don’t worry, lumpy yuca is acceptable) using the stock or milk as you like and a little salt.

Adding some garlic into the mix really livens up the flavor.
Enjoy!

Yuca Fries

When making yuca fries do the same preparation method as above but leave the pieces a little firm so they are not mushy when you fry them. I ilke to do Yuca Fried with left-over yuca.

Do just as you would making french fried potatoes.

Dry the pieces on a towel so they are not all wet and cause the oil to spatter.

Cut the yuca into strips.

Heat oil in a deep fryer or a sauté pan or you can just bake them in the oven at a medium temperature.

Add the pieces a little at a time and fry until they are the desired crispness and golden brown.

Drain on paper and serve.

This is my favorite way to eat them.

Yuca Chips

To make Yuca Chips peal and slice the uncooked yuca into round slices (just like potato chips) as thin as you can possibly get them.

Heat the oil in a deep fryer or pot to around 375°F.

Drop the slices into the oil one at a time so they don’t stick together. Do not crowd these little chips. Make sure you give them room to cook freely.

Turn them as needed until they are a firm golden brown (1 to 2 minutes).

Remove and drain.

Add some salt, garlic salt or just eat plain.

These little crispy pieces of yuca are a great snack treat.

Recipes 2 – Sweet Beans, La Bandera & Fritters

Recipes Page 2 – Beans, Rice and Corn Fritters

Dominicans love their rice and beans. It is a joke that if a Dominican goes without rice for even a day they will perish. It is such a staple in everyday eating. The typical dish “La Bandera” is consumed daily in some form by most Dominicans. Beans are also a staple food in Dominican Republic. Beans cooked runny, with rice or sweet as a desert, all are just so good. Let’s do some cooking!

Habichuelas con Dulce/Sweet Beans | La Bandera Dominicana/The Dominican Flag(meat Guisado, Arroz Blanco, Habichuelas, Ensalada) | Chofan/Dominican Style Chinese Fried Rice | Arepitas de Maiz/Fried Corn Meal Cakes

Habichuelas con Dulce

Habichuelas con Dulce
Habichuelas con Dulce

Habichuelas con Dulce / Sweet Beans are a typical Dominican dish. Each cooker of this sweet dish has their own way to make it special by adding a touch of something different to the traditional recipe. It is a sort of pudding but not as thick. It is made with Kidney Beans, Yam, Condensed Milk, Raisins and Cinnamon. It sounds terrible but trust me, it is wonderful. This dessert has become an Easter/Semana Santa tradition, served during Lent, in the Dominican household.
(Bon Helados also serves up an ice cream version that is wonderful during the Easter season)

Cooking Habichuelas con Dulce
Cooking Habichuelas con Dulce

Ingredients:
2 cups cooked kidney beans/habichuelas rojas
2 cups water reserved from the beans
1/4 cup of raisins/ciruelas pasas
3 cups of evaporated milk/leche evaporada
1 cup of coconut milk/leche de coco
1 cup sweetened condensed milk/Leche Condensada
1/2 lb of sweet potatoes/batatas cooked and mashed
1/2 cup of sugar/azucar
2 cinnamon sticks/palitos de canela
2 tablespoons butter/mantequilla
8 to 10 cloves/Clavos dulces
1/2 teaspoon salt/sal
optional
Cassava bread toasted/casabe tostado or milk cookies/galleticas de leche

Habichuelas con Dulce with milk cookies ready for eating!
Habichuelas con Dulce with milk cookies ready for eating!

Instructions:
Puree the beans with a little cooking liquid and then strain.
Add beans, coconut milk, evaporated milk and bring to a boil
Lower heat to medium add the Condensed milk, sugar, cinnamon stick, raisins and sweet potatoes
Keep stirring so it does not stick.
Add the rest of the ingredients.
Stir until the desired consistency has been reached.
Serve warm or cold with the cassava bread or float the cookies on top.

I have been known to enjoy a few bowls before feeling satisfied. This is a treat you will ever forget. It sounds terrible but it is ever so tasty. ¡Que Sabroso!

Mama Pura’s Recipes (Dominican traditional cooking Book 1) – Amazon book available in Paperback and Kindle

La Bandera Dominicana / The Dominican Flag

La Bandera Dominicana
La Bandera Dominicana

La Bandera Dominicana/The Dominican Flag is typically prepared for lunch and is the most important meal in Dominican Republic. It is a combination of beans, rice, meat/seafood and salad type dish. It is very filling and satisfying and is quite healthy also because it is made with fresh ingredients.

The meat is cooked Guisado/Stewed this is a general recipe for making the stewed meats. You can use this recipe to make Pollo Guisado/ Stewed Chicken, Rés Guisada/Stewed Beef, or other stewed meats.

Carne Guisado Recipe: Cut bell peppers, chop some celery, add some onion cut coarse, preferably red onion, some tomatoes cut in large pieces, some mashed garlic, tomato paste to give it some liquid and thicken up the sauce, some lemon or vinegar, a few green olives if you desire, a little dash of sugar, and some oregano, salt and a little oil. Sauté the meat (usually cut in medium to small bite sized pieces) in the oil then add the veggies and spices. Add a little water and cover and let simmer until the meat is cooked and veggies are soft. Add water as needed. Mix the tomato paste in a little water and add to the mix until the desired consistency has been reached.

Arroz Blanco Recipe

White Rice / Arroz Blanco Dominican Style
White Rice / Arroz Blanco Dominican Style

The Arroz Blanco/White Rice is cooked soft. Add a little oil to the rice so you can get some Concón/ Burnt Rice on the bottom of the pan. This is a delicacy and is the sign that you have mastered the Dominican rice cooking.

This is the way Dominicans make their white rice.
Ingredients:
2 1/2 cups raw rice rinsed and drained
3 TBSP cooking oil
1 1/2 tsp. salt
4 cups water

Instructions:
A heavy skillet is best. Add oil salt water and rice to the pan. Mix. Cook over high heat until boiling. Lower the heat, cover and simmer for about 20 minutes, or until the rice is tender and the water absorbed. Remove the lid and allow the rice to rest a few minutes. For concon let the rice cook on low heat on the stove for a little time more until the crust appears on the bottom of the pan. It takes a little skill and some luck to easily remove the con-con from the bottom of the pan. Serve the rice hot and the con-con on the side.

Habichuelas Guisadas Recipe
The Habichuelas Guisadas/Stewed Beans can be made with any type of bean, red, white, fava, lentils, whatever you have on hand.

Recipe:
Cook the beans until soft or buy them in a can. Add some chopped celery, some squash if you have it, a little onion, parsley, thyme, oregano, coriander or cilantro, some mashed garlic, a cube of chicken stock, a little oil, some tomato paste, and salt. Cook the veggies and spices in the oil until they are soft. Add the stock and tomato paste. Add the beans. Mash the beans a little to make them juicy. Cook until they have thickened up a little, adding water if needed. Adjust the ingredients to your taste.

Ensalada
Make a small Ensalada/Salad with lettuce and tomato, cut up an avocado and top with límon or vinegar and oil. You can finely chop cabbage with some tomato and peppers with oil and vinegar dressing. Make Dominican style potato salad called Ensalada Hervida/Boiled Salad using boiled carrots, potato, eggs, with an oil and vinegar dressing.

Now for the best part….this is my favorite step (drum roll please). Serve all this on a large plate. Put the beans on top of the rice. Let some of the meat juice get on the rice also. Place a little of the Concón on the plate. Put the salad on the side. Get a big glass of ice water and a big spoon and enjoy. When finished have a sweet or a cup of coffee. Now you have eaten the typical Dominican lunch just like a true Dominican.

Chofan

Chinese Fried Rice Dominican Style. The Chofan rice dish is very versatile. The basic recipe is rice with vegetables, egg, and some meat or seafood of your choice added to the mix. It is a great rice dish to use with your leftovers.

The general recipe is here with some different substitutions added. Be creative and make your own signature

Dominican style Chofan
Ingredients:(remember all can be adjusted to your taste)
2 eggs scrambled (eggs are usually part of the dish but you can omit them if you desire)
2 tablespoons of oil
1/4 to 1/2 cup of ham, pork, seafood, goat, chicken, tofu…etc. cooked and cubed. (Combine meats and seafood for a flavor all your own).
3 tablespoons soy sauce/ salsa china (or tamari sauce for a lower salt version)
3 tablespoons onion
1/4 cup chopped celery
1/4 cup sweet corn, green peas (petit pois), red beans. Add all or 1 of these ingredients. Be creative and try adding some other veggie.
2 to 3 cups of cooked rice
If your adding eggs to the mix scramble them up first in the oil. (If your veggies and meats are not all pre-cooked remove the egg and set aside to add to the mix along with the rice so it does not get to hard.) Sauté all the pre-cooked meats and veggies together until the onion and celery are soft. Add the soy sauce to the mixture. Mix well. Then add the pre-cooked rice and stir all together and fry until hot. Fluff it up with a fork. Add salt to taste. Serve alone as a main dish or as a side.

Arepitas

Arepitas de Maiz/ Fried Corn Meal Cakes (I call them Corn Bread Droppings). These tasty treats are a fast and easy snack or meal accompaniment Hispanola style.

1 cup corn meal or corn flour
2 teaspoons of milk
1 teaspoon of sugar
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1 egg

Mix these ingredients together. Add more liquid if the mix is not moist enough. Heat about 1/4 cup of oil in a skillet.
Drop about a tablespoon full into the oil. Fry until golden on both sides. Drain on some paper. Serve them up when they are fresh and hot. For variety try adding some hot peppers, whole corn or a little cheese into the mix. Yummmm….