This article and recipes were first published in 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.
Pom, either served over rice or on a breadroll, is nowadays such a popular food item in The Netherlands that not only Surinam food cafés and restaurants serve it, but it has found its way onto the menus of Dutch cafetarias and even delivery pizza restaurants, just to meet popular demand.

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!

6 medium sized potatoes*
Juice of 1 lime
½ cup orange juice
1 tablespoon brown sugar
½ teaspoon turmeric
¼ cup parsley
2 lbs chicken meat (either breast or thigh)
4 ounces corned beef brisket
1 tablespoon butter
1 cup chopped onion
2 tomatoes, chopped
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 tablespoon nutmeg
2 chicken bouillon cubes

Shred the potatoes and mix them with half of the lime juice and all of the orange juice. Season with brown sugar, the turmeric, a pinch of salt and pepper, a pinch of nutmeg and the parsley.

Cut the meat into bite size pieces. Melt the butter, sauté the onion and the tomatoes and add the chicken. Season with the rest of the nutmeg, salt and pepper, and the rest of the lime juice. Add four cups of water, the two chicken bouillon cubes, the corned beef and the tomato paste. Simmer for fifteen minutes, then set aside.

Butter an oven dish. Divide the shredded potatoes in two: layer the bottom of the dish with one half. Scoop the meat out of the pan and spread it over the potatoes, then cover with the rest of the potatoes.

Sprinkle some of the juices from the pan over the potatoes, and dot them with butter. Heat the oven to 350F and bake for an hour or until deep golden.

*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!


  1. Nicole, Je maakt me weer aan het kwijlen!


  2. Wow als we het hebben over cultuur roof dan hebben we hier voorbeeld nr1. Nederlanders wisten niets van kruiden in hun gerechten maar Pom zou dan traditioneel nederlands zijn? Ik ga dit op facebook plaatsen even kijken wat anderen zeggen. Lekker achterwege laten dat dit een traditioneel Surinaams Creools gerecht is (casave kended jullie niet voor jullie in mensen gingen handelen)! - Getekend Samayoch op Facebook.

    1. Samayoch, je hebt wellicht de hele mini-serie over Surinaams eten niet gelezen of erg snel conclusies getrokken. Pom is natuurlijk niet traditioneel Nederlands, maar het hoort wel bij de Nederlandse eetcultuur, net zoals roti, shoarma, rijsttafel, macaroni en spaghetti. Dat was vroeger ook niet traditioneel voor de gemiddelde Nederlander, maar verschijnt nu wel wekelijks op het menu. De Nederlandse eetcultuur bestaat niet meer alleen uit groenten en aardappels, net zomin dat de bevolking alleen bestaat uit blonde Friese boeren: iedereen draagt bij aan het culinaire panorama. En ik wil graag alle bijdragen op de website registreren. Ik vind het belangrijk om gerechten van vroeger, maar ook gerechten van vandaag de dag neer te zetten, met referenties naar de oorsprong van het gerecht, zowel voor de oudere alswel de jongere generatie.

  3. Hi, love your site.. I lived in the Netherland 18 years, my kids all grew up there and still live there. As i have moved back to the USA im missing the food.. Pom to be exact.. I want to make it but as i cant find where to buy Pomtajer? I live here in California near Palm Springs and wish to make this dish an your recipe is exactly as i remember making it. Can you guide me to where to buy the Pomtajer as it was always frozen when i used it before. Help... Found some dutch stores in Los Angeles no luck... Any clue where i can get it? Bedankt Charles

    1. You could probably get by with mashing a mealy potato for the bottom layer or making cassava puré.


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