Dutch, the mag.
Last week, we started a new culinary mini-series. Previously, we covered Indonesia, with an overview and several recipes for a rijsttafel. This time, we're cooking dishes from a newer influx of tropical tastes, the country of Suriname. The Dutch kitchen landscape has always been one of embracing other cultures, and our colonial past introduced many exciting and flavorful new dishes to the spectrum. Some of those dishes would be adapted based on whatever ingredients were available.
Such is the case with pom for example, a celebratory dish that is ubiquitous during Surinamese holidays, birthdays, wedding and funerals, and which is not seldom proclaimed as being Suriname’s favorite dish . Even better, it is often said that there is no celebration without pom present!
Pom traditionally appears to be a Jewish recipe, and was made with chicken, orange juice and potatoes. But potatoes were scarce in Suriname. A readily available substitute was pomtajer, a root vegetable, which has been used since. As the culture is so diverse, one can find many recipe variations on this dish.
The open markets in the Bijlmermeer are known to cater to its predominantly Surinam customer base, and many that live outside the area will travel to the Bijlmer in order to purchase those specialty foods. Market days therefore are a hustle and bustle of bright colored clothing, lots of laughing, exciting new discoveries, meeting new and old friends, and wonderful, enticing smells from the restaurants and food trucks in the direct vicinity. And news travels fast: if a particular market stall displays a difficult to find food item, or if so-and-so has a new batch of freshly baked pom. You have to be quick or it will be gone!
*Choose a mealy potato for this purpose. I personally prefer to shred the potatoes so there's still a bit of texture to it. Another version suggests boiling and mashing the potatoes first, and then adding in the juices and seasonings. Either way works great!