You’ve definitely heard of Haiti before. Maybe you’ve heard of the long coastline of beaches like Labadie, or the gorgeous historical fortress Citadelle Laferrière. 

Or maybe it was the devastating 2010 earthquake that brought Haiti to your attention. Either way, there’s one thing about Haiti you most likely haven’t heard much of and we’re about to shed some much-needed light on it. It’s the Haitian Food! 

Get ready to salivate. In this article, we detail a brief history of Haitian Food, and break down 5 Most Famous Dishes In Haiti today.

A Brief History of Haitian Food

Historically speaking, traditional Haitian cuisine has relied upon ingredients like fish, pork and root vegetables. Hispaniola, the island that Haiti is situated in, has been home to people since as early as 5000 B.C.

The early Haitian tribes cultivated vegetables and fruits like corn, sweet potatoes and pineapples.

Throughout its history, several countries have had control of Haiti (as we’ll discuss below). All of these cultures introduced their native recipes to the region. Today, Haitian cuisine is a mix of cuisine from all these countries.

Popular Haitian Dishes

The end result of such a diverse range of influences is the Haitian cuisine that you see today. Here we break down 5 of the best dishes from Haiti that you should either try on your next trip or cook for yourself using the links to the best recipes we have found.

Lambi/Conch

We’re talking about a Carribean country here, guys. Of course Haiti is home to the most amazing seafood!

One of the most prominent seafood dishes is Lambi. This is a delicacy you’ll only find in certain Haitian restaurants.

The dish consists of queen conch meat getting tenderized and then grilled or fried. It can also be stewed in spicy sauces or added in cold salads. 

Lambi is more than just a dish and actually represents Haiti’s struggle for independence.

Vegetable Stews

Haitian vegetable stews make use of West African, native Caribbean and European vegetables, often cooked together.

These dishes reflect the stronghold of West Africa on Haiti’s cultural identity. Zepina, a popular vegetable stew, is made from spinach and other vegetables like lima beans or carrots.

Soup Joumou

This is another Haitian dish with immense historical significance.

It is believed that before Haiti had gained independence from Europe, the slaves were forbidden from consuming a particular pumpkin soup that the French colonizers were really fond of.

Some Haitians recount tales of slaves not being allowed to even touch the pumpkin used to make the soup!

Black Mushroom Rice

One of the uniquest and most extravagant dishes in Haitian cuisine – Diri ak djon djon (meaning “black mushroom rice”) is cooked from the most expensive ingredient in Haitian cooking: djon djon!

Djon djon is the name for a variety of mushrooms found in northern Haiti that sell for around $65 per pound.

Diri ak djon djon is prepared by soaking the dried mushrooms in hot water and producing a black liquid.

Pâté

Pâté is the Haitian name for puff pastries with savory fillings. This dish is an amalgamation of West African and French cuisine.

The dough is made like French puff pastry, but the butter is replaced by lard, shortening or margarine (as with most West African dishes). Butter is actually considered a luxury ingredient in Haiti. 

Pâté has a chewy, thick layer towards the middle of the pastry. The outer layer is brittle and thin.