Tag Archives: Taino

Dominican Food

Dominican Republic Food

1.Breakfast – Desayuno | 2.Lunch – La Bandera Dominicana | 3.Sancocho | 3.Dinner – Cena | 4.Dessert – Postre | 5.Fruits – Frutas and Juices – Jugos |

The food of Dominican Republic / Comida de República Dominicana is a blend of many different cultural dishes all combined to make a style of cooking that is unique to this island. With influences from the Taino Indians, Spaniards, African Slaves and many other immigrants, the Dominican dishes or comida criolla has evolved. The Dominicans have created their own food and cooking styles into dishes that have their own distinctive flavors, tastes and appearances.

Dominican food is high in carbohydrates and starch. Most recipes are not complicated and are made from very natural and locally grown foods that are readily available in gardens, trees and from local vendors. Add a little locally raised meat or a fresh catch of fish, and some sazóne (spices) and you have a typical Dominican meal. Remember that typical Dominican foods are usually not spicy. In local type eateries there is a high chance that you will not see any black pepper. If you ask many will give you a bottle of hot sauce instead. They, in general, do not like their foods hot/ pica.

Salami, Fried Cheese and Platano.
Salami, Fried Cheese and Platano.

Breakfast – Desayuno

Breakfast Dominican style has many options from which to choose.

One of the traditional foods served for breakfast is Mangú, which is mashed plantains with some flavoring added and topped with lots of red onions. The orange squash/ auyama is used to make mazamorra that is also served with onions. Spaghetti is also a favorite of the Dominicans. Fried cheese is also a favorite served with fried salami and eggs. People love their oatmeal/ avena that usually a bit runny cooked with milk and is very sweet. Of course, there is always a good variety of fruits from which to choose. I have seen many people eating Sancocho and Mondongo for breakfast as well. To wash it all down have some jugo de avena, hot chocolate made with water or milk, some fresh juice and of course a hot cup of espresso style coffee made fresh to order.

Lunch – La Bandera Dominicana

La Bandera Dominicana/ The Dominican Flag
La Bandera Dominicana/ The Dominican Flag

The typical Dominican lunch, called La Bandera Dominicana/ The Dominican Flag (La Bandera recipe), consists of beans/ habichuelas and rice/ arroz, meat/ carne or fish/ piscado, and a salad/ ensalada of some sort.

First, the plate is filled with the most rice I have ever seen heaped on a plate. The habichuelas/ juicy beans come in black, red, white or green, depending on the type of bean used. These beans are usually served in a small bowl or cup on the side and you pour this on top of the rice, along with some of the sauce from the meat if you so desire. You eat this with a large spoon and a knife used for pushing the food onto the spoon. The meat is usually cut into pieces and is stewed. The portion size of meat is dwarfed when it sits next to the hugh amount of rice on the plate. There are different varieties of salads that can be served the most popular being, Green Salad / Ensalada Verde, Avacado Salad/ Ensalada de Aguacate, Russian Potato Salad/ Ensalada Rusa, and a boiled salad I love with tayota, carrots and potatoes. When the beans are made just right and the rice has the perfect amount of salt, along with a little concón/ crispy fried rice from the bottom of the pan, this meal is wonderful.

I can see why most Dominicans eat this meal everyday of their lives. It is a joke among my Dominican friends, if they do not eat rice everyday they will not live. After living here for many years I have come to believe this as truth.

Sancocho Dominican style
Sancocho Dominican style


Sancocho is the national dish of the Dominican people. It is made with a variety of meats and vegetables such as pork, beef, goat, fish, sweet potatoes. The recipe for sancocho is on our recipe pages. There is also another type of soup – stew type dish called asopao which is meat, veggies and rice in a flavorful broth. Make some for yourself, here is the recipe for Sancocho.

One of the many night time food vendors.

Dinner – Cena

The evening meal is usually something light because the main meal is served midday. You will see Dominicans eating a sandwich or a soup or stew such as Sancocho.

They do eat full dinners if they go out to a restaurant in the evening but at home it is usually light. Maybe they will pick up a snack on the street such as Chicharones, pasteles en hoja a hamburger or some fruit. Along many of the streets throughout the country you can find small trucks selling all types of fried foods and sandwiches. The roasted pork sandwiches are wonderful. Some snacks/ picadera consisting of olives, cheese and salami to go with a cold drink with friends are also popular.

Dominican-style bizcocho for sale in a Colmado

Dessert – Postre

The Dominicans know how to make desserts and sweets just right. They use all the local ingredients to make candies and cakes like no other place in the world.

Try out a mixture of beans, condensed milk and some other sweet and interesting ingredients. The name of this sweet mix is Habichuelas con dulse (habichuelas con dulse recipe *the link is to the old html web site). It is a traditional dessert served during Easter but can also be found the year round if you make your quest in the right places. It is also made into an ice cream that can be bought at Bon’s Helados. I never thought of beans as a dessert and ice cream. This is a must taste for sure. There is also the Dominican cake called Bizcocho that you can get with or without icing. The Flan is sweet and creamy and the candies made from coconut, papaya, almonds and other local fruits are yummy.

Fresh fruits from a vendor.

Fruits – Frutas and Juices – Jugos

The fruits grown here are the best. There are a wide variety of fruits that you have never seen or heard of before. Some do look ugly but don’t snub them because of the way they look. You have never eaten a pineapple/ piña until you have tried one here in República Dominicana.

The Mangos (season May thru September), of which there are many types, sizes and textures, are wonderful and very messy.

Mangos are best eaten with a knife as the little strings of fiber get stuck in the teeth. Do not let the mango juice get on your clothes because it stains.

Papaya/ lechosa is unbelievably tasty and nothing like what you will find in other countries.

An Avacado grown in DR has so much more flavor than any I tasted elsewhere.

Buy a banana or a peeled orange for a few pesos while walking the street for a quick pick me up. Just make sure that when you visit you do not pass up a taste you will always remember.

Zapote fruit, the beautiful seed inside and some juice blended with ice and milk. Yumm.

You can buy a juice on the street fresh squeezed and many restaurants serve their juices fresh as well.

There are a few different types of oranges. The china, which is the sweet orange, is used to make juice (sometimes it is mixed with sugar to make it even sweeter) and to eat whole. Then there is the bitter orange/ naranja sevillana that is used for cooking.

The Guava/ guayaba, a pink colored, pear-shaped fruit with yellow skin, is wonderful when made into juice or a greenish colored jelly (try it made into a paste and eaten with some cheese, I was shocked that this tastes so good).

I highly recommend everyone tries some zapote juice, the fruit is ugly but the juice is sooo yummy. The Guanabana and Passion fruit/ Chinola also makes a scrumptious juice. To learn more about the products grown in Dominican Republic go to our Grown in DR page.

Whatever you choose to eat while you are in Dominican Republic you should try new things. Things that may look strange to you might be a new yummy for your pallet. Some you might not like but I am sure that most of the cuisine in this country you will enjoy. You should keep your mind open to new taste sensations and try new foods. Whenever you visit a new place it is always important to try something different. You just might be pleasantly pleased. Try going to a restaurant and asking for something typical Dominican. If invited to a persons home for dinner make sure you try everything, no matter what it is. Even if your not crazy about what is served let them know how much you enjoyed everything. They are always hospitable and will probably be watching you while dining to make sure you are comfortable and happy. Many times when you are sitting in a restaurant, having a drink or snack in a Colmado or enjoying any type of food or drink Dominicans will pass by and say “Buen Provecho”. This means “Enjoy your meal”. Dominicans are friendly people and they use this phrase often.

Each part of this small island country has their own foods and recipes. Each dish is cooked in different ways depending on which part of the country you are in and which part of the country the person cooking comes from. There are also have different fruits and veggies that grow and thrive in certain parts of the country. Strawberries are grown best in Constanza, the Bani area is known for its Mangos. No matter where you are in our small island country you will find the most amazing tasting fruits, vegetables and foods all with its own Dominican taste and flavor. Be adventurous and enjoy our original Dominican sabor. Check out our Dominican Recipes and cooking terms.

We have our food words list so you will know how to say the different foods and exactly what they are. Impress your friends…

Mamajuana Drink


Mamajuana also known as Viagra Dominicana is a drink indigenous to the island. Haiti and the Dominican Republic, both having their own variation of the recipe. All are said to stimulate the libido.

Ingredients | Recipe | Taking Home

Mamajuana being sold in the market in Dominican Republic
Mamajuana being sold in the market in Dominican Republic

Originally this beverage was made by the Taino Indians, boiling the roots to make a type of medicinal tea. Honey was added as a sweetener. As time passed rum or wine was added to the mixture to make Mamajuana as it is known today.


This sweet, amber-colored liquid is said to be a cure-all, mainly used for the gripe, the Dominican name for the flu. It is also said to be a good remedy for arthritis, toothaches, headaches and stomachaches. In the history of Mamajuana it has been used as a cure for many different ailments. Many of the natural ingredients of mamajuana are also used in Western herbal remedies.

Different types of mamajuana in bottles
1.A bottle of manajuana with the dry herbs inside 2. Bottle with liquids added. 3. and 4. Dominican Mamajuana with the seafood parts.

Some of the Ingredients in Mamajuana:

There are as many different versions of the recipe as there are people mixing this potent concoction. All depending on what ingredients you chose to introduce to your bottle. There are different versions for getting pregnant (cat or parakeet claws), not getting pregnant, headache and more. Below are some of the basic ingredients used in Mamajuana.

*Canelillea (Dominican grown cinnamon whose leaves and twigs are used for flavor, circulation and adds a little warmth to the mix),

*Timacle (In the Taino language it means brave. It is a vine with big, twisted and gnarled roots. It is said to work on the ligaments to make one more agile for days. It is also said to make one energized and able to think more clearly).

*Bejuco de Indio (helps male impotency. It is said to even make the bottom parts of the body feel like they are vibrating if taken in large doses. It is said to make sweat and body odor have an essence that makes one seem more attractive, gets the pheromones flowing).

*Bejuco de Costilla (the bark is also said to give the lower parts of the body extra life and vibrancy, for some it can make you feel quite warm and toasty).

*Batata (also known as the plain old potato or sarsaparilla is a sexual stimulant).

*Bitter Ginger / Gengiberes Amargo (a root in the ginger family but it is a bit more bitter and yellower than regular ginger yet it looks about the same. It is used to repel internal parasites, improves circulation, said to help with arthritis and may even be able to help with hair growth).

*Yname/ true yam (said to enhance hormones. The inside is eaten in Dominican Republic and elsewhere like a potato and the outside is used in mamajuana).

*Anamú (bark of the tree),

*Bohuco (a type of creeper),

*Brazil, Caro, Marabeli, Osua, Guyacan, Twigs of Palo Indio, Palo de Maguey and Pega Palo (literally means hitting stick).

Plus many other ingredients, some of which are said to be secret. Each creator has their own variation on the recipe which makes each bottle of mamajuana unique.

There are other special ingredients that can be added to your bottle of herbs including different animal parts. Mainly, these parts are taken from sea animals. These sea creatures/ mariscos could include octopus, snail, conch, clam or oyster. One of the treasured ingredients is a sea turtle penis or as it is known in Dominican Republic, Miembro de Carey. Using the penis is said to give the man extra potency.

Showing different styles of Mamajuana bottles in a gift shop
Showing different styles of Mamajuana bottles in a gift shop

Mamajuana Recipe

There are as many different versions of the recipe as there are people mixing this potent concoction. All depending on what ingredients you chose to introduce to your bottle. There are different versions for getting pregnant (cat or parakeet claws), not getting pregnant, headache and more.


Each person will have their own concoction, or if you prefer, recipe. All depends on their own special likes and dislikes. Basically, after the natural sticks and parts are all stuffed into a bottle the liquid can be added. Usually, for the first batch, the bottle is filled with red wine (cheap wine is just fine for this step. Most Dominicans I know use the wine called “La Fuerza”) and a little honey (about a 1/4 cup). This is left to sit for about a week, mainly to clean all the ingredients, wash away the bitterness of the sticks and to get the bottle ready for the good stuff. After the week has passed empty out the wine, “they say” you’re not supposed to drink this, but it won’t hurt if you like the taste. Many places throughout the Dominican Republic have the bottles already cured for you so you may not need this step. If your bottle is wet inside then it has been pre-cured.

Now for the good part. Add some good Dominican Ron/ Rum, you can use other brands if you don’t have the Dominican kind. Some people use dark rum while others use light rum (I prefer the light if you care. Because when I add the honey it is just a little too sweet for my tastes using the dark rum). Some add half rum and half wine. Some use just a little wine and more rum. Many people add honey and vanilla (buy some Dominican style vanilla for the real flavor). Try it with a little gin or vodka for good measure. It is all a matter of taste and what ingredients are on hand. Whatever the ingredients that are chosen, they need to steep in the bottle. Let the bottle alone for at least a week, the longer the liquid sits in the bottle the more wood flavor it will have. A long or short time all depends on your taste. I suggest having 2 or 3 bottles going. This way you can have one ready for drinking with another is brewing. You do not want to take a chance and run out when you are needing a trago (drink). Each bottle can be made in a little different style. Experiment with it until you get the blend that most satisfies all those inner urges.

Mamajuana can be served in as many different ways as there are of making the warming drink. It can be taken by the shot, served warm, over ice, after dinner, mixed with soda or juice, whatever you like, each person likes theirs differently. It is available for tasting in most Dominican bars and restaurants. So there is no excuse for not giving it a try. If you don’t like one places version of this warming liquid try another places version. Soon you will come to enjoy this typical Dominican “viagra”.

Taking Mamajuana Home

When you transport Mamajuana to your home destination it is best to have the bottle filled with the liquid. Many times, not always, the customs people in the airport will not let a bottle pass with the dry ingredients as it is considered to be agriculture (plant material). But when the bottle is full it is different. Also make sure that you pack it well for the trip. You don’t want that unique souvenir to end up on all your clothing instead of in your tummy. Ask the gift shop where you purchase the bottle to wrap it for you in lots of paper then surround it with some soft stuff (lots of clothing or a towel will do just fine) in your luggage. Then when you get home you’ll have a great item to share with friends along with your stories of your trip.

Mamajuana with seafood inside at the foot of some domino players.
Mamajuana with seafood inside at the foot of some domino players in the park.

Shopping for Mamajuana in DR is also a fun experience. You can buy it in most gift shops throughout the country, in markets or along the streets. Many bottles have a pretty leather holder that says Dominican Republic. Other bottles you can find will be in whatever type of bottle the maker has available. My personal bottle has a whisky label on it. Also in most gift shops they will have some mamajuana ready for you to try. Take a little cup (or two) and enjoy the free drink. My office is behind a gift shop in Colonial Zone and everyday when the workers tell people to try mamajuana the first thing they say is “is that legal here?” Then the worker has to explain that it is a drink not a smoke…LOL! So remember it is even fun to buy the mamajuana as the seller tries to explain what it does for the libido and what is really in the bottle.

Mamajuana for sale on the streets of the Colonial City
Mamajuana for sale on the streets of the Colonial City

My first experience

seeing Mamajuana was on vacation in Dominican Republic. Some people I met at a Colmado near my hotel offered me some out of a big bottle carried in the back of the trunk. I saw all the “crap” in the bottle and turned it down. I had no idea what it was.

My next visit I was a bit braver and tried it. It was quite tasty so my friend took me to some market where some relative of his sold it. Since he was related I got the “special” blend. He pulled out an old whiskey with a half torn off, old label. This bottle was filled with a bunch of sticks. He opened the bottle when from under the shelf he pulled out a gallon plastic milk jug filled with some black liquid. He treated this “juice” like it was gold. He poured some in the bottle of twigs..so slowly. Then he jammed it all down with a stick! When he handed me that bottle, he had a big smile on his face, like he was giving me a gift from the Gods. He also refused to take any money and he gave me a drink from his “personal stash”.

It was wonderful…warm and tasty with a hint of fish flavor. Sweet, but how too sweet. A very enjoyable Dominican experience. And after I had it in USA it was a real conversation maker. My dog liked it also. My friends were not as acceptable as the dog, being not very sure about its look. No matter what it is said to do to the stamina and libido, I like it and will imbibe from time to time on my yummy treat. (More about My Mamajuana Experience at the DR Gringas Blog)

If Mamajuana is or is not a true aphrodisiac does it really matter? It is a great memory to take home from vacation with you. This way one can have a taste of Dominican Republic and a happy memory at the same time. Remembering your first encounter with and how you were offered your first taste of Mamajuana. How this first taste came along with a little smile. Like they knew what was going to happen to you later in the day if you kept drinking. Remembering the warmth of the sun..or was it the sun? Could it have been the Mamajuana…..