Haitian cuisine is commonly classified with other Caribbean cuisine, however, we maintain an independently unique flavor and our strong, often spicy flavoring, make many of our dishes stand apart from that of other islands.
Haitian cuisine is delicious and exotic, and quite refined actually, as it is based on Creole and French cooking styles. Out of the 5 essential sauces of French cuisine, our cuisine actually adopts 3 of these as our common base: Béchamel, Velouté and Tomate.
Base: Milk (Usually Whole Milk)
Classical ingredients: White Onion, Clove, Bay Leaf, Salt, Pepper (white preferably), Cream Sauce, Mornay, Grated “Tete de Maure” cheese (closely related to Edam cheese) or Gruyère, Mustard and a touch of Nutmeg
Classically Served With: Gratins of vegetables or macaronis (pastas) which we locally call “gratinés”. Also with fish, poultry and pastas.
Sauce Velouté, commonly named here sauce blanche (white sauce) or sauce au beurre (butter sauce)
Base: White Stock (Classically Veal in France, but Chicken and Fish Stock are mostly used here)
Classical ingredients: None, used specifically as a base
Classically Served With: Fish, Poultry, Vegetables, Pastas, or over rice for added flavor
Base: Tomatoes (Raw, Tomato Paste, Tomato Puree, Stewed Tomatoes)
Classical ingredients: Mixture of chopped onions, carrots, and celery, Garlic, Chicken Stock, Salt & Pepper, and a dash of sugar in moderation to balance acidity, without making the sauce sweet. Some add hot pepper (piman bouk) for flavor
Classically Served With: Pasta, Fish, Vegetables, Maïs Moulu (our version of Corn meal or Polenta), Rice and Beans, Poultry (Especially Chicken), Breads and Fritters (“Fritay”) such as “Accras” or “Marinades” which are local Fritters that are vegetable based or flour based.
Several dishes are specifically native to Haiti.
Djon-djon for example is a top of mind. The typical “riz djon-djon” (jon-jon rice), requires this variety of wild mushrooms that as far I know I have only seen in Haiti. The stems of the mushrooms are used to color the food black, and most typically rice. We also have our famous rice and beans cooked with kidney beans, coconut in some regions of the country, and hot peppers.
Another one of a popular favorite: Maïs Moulu in french or Mayi moulen in creole. This cornmeal mush is prepared as a polenta most often. Among other famous plates here are bannann peze which are fried green plantains. These are often served, as well as other fritters, with Pikliz, our famous spicy pickled carrots and cabbage condiment which accompanies more than one plate. Poisson gros sel, is our court-bouillon version of a fish platter, most often red snapper, cooked slowly in a light buttery sauce with onions and corse sea salt. Our fried pork plater, know as Griot, is I can say close to being our national plate.
Our tropical climate allows for many tropical fruits to grow in abundance here such as avocados, mangoes, oranges, pineapples, coconuts, kenep and guava which we consume regularly.
Through this blog I hope to help you discover many of those ingredients and plates as I will cook once in a while some classic Haitian dishes for your enjoyment. Often some of the recipes you will find here will have nothing to do with classic local recipes, but will simply be, either a recipe with a local ingredient, or simply something cooked in my kitchen located here in Haiti :)