Suriname is the smallest country in South America, bordered by Guyana, French Guiana and Brazil. It has a population of c.542,000, most of whom live on the country’s north coast, in and around the capital and largest city, Paramaribo. In 2002, the historic inner city of Paramaribo was declared as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The Saint Peter and Paul Cathedral in Paramaribo is the biggest wooden structure in the Western Hemisphere and is the seat of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Paramaribo. It is 59.1m long, 14.6m high, 16.5m wide and reaches 44m high in the tower up to the bronze cross.
Tropical rainforests make up about 80% of Suriname´s total landscape. One of the top tourist attractions, from April to August, is watching the giant leatherback turtles lay their eggs on the beach at Galibi Nature Reserve.
Suriname is a member of the Carribbean Community (CARICOM), officially a Dutch speaking country and is the only territory outside Europe where Dutch is spoken by the majority of the population.
Through the services of ‘Cynthia rent a house’, a 4 star, 1 bed apartment within a luxury resort, 20 min drive from Paramaribo, will cost €500 per month for long term rental.
The current president Desi Bouterse is a controversial figure. In 2007 he was put on trial for allegedly ordering the killing of 15 political opponents as military ruler in 1982. The case was put on hold when parliament passed a law giving him & his co-defendents blanket immunity for human rights violations committed during military rule. In 1999, he was convicted in the Netherlands to 11 years imprisonment for cocaine trafficking, but he remains free in Suriname.
The cuisine of Suriname is a combination of many international cuisines including East Indian, African, Indonesian, Chinese, Dutch, Jewish, Portuguese and Amerindian. I came across Pastei (creole-style chicken pot pie), Bami goreng (fried noodles) & Roti (flat bread). However, within the Surinamese community, in both Surinam and The Netherlands, Pom is the most popular and best known festive dish. It was introduced by the Portuguese-Jewish plantation owners as the Portuguese potato (“pomme de terre”) oven dish. Because the potato did not grow in Suriname and had to be imported it was replaced with the root of the tayer plant – pomtajer. I used potato in my ‘Pom’ as I didn’t fancy my chances of finding pomtayer in the supermarket and because Bern is obsessed with potatoes! I found many variations of the recipe in my research so this is my take on ‘Pom’.
Prep time: 30 minutes
Cook time: 1 hour
For 2 people
3 med sized potatoes, peeled and grated (remove most of the excess water with a tea towel)
Juice of 1/2 lime
1/4 cup orange juice
1/4 tbsp brown sugar 1
/2 tsp nutmeg
Salt & ground white pepper
1 tsp chicken stock powder or cube
1/2 cup water
1 tbsp chopped parsley
250g chicken chopped in to bite size pieces
1/2 onion, chopped
1 tin chopped tomatoes
Melt 30g of butter in a pan and saute the onion on a med-low heat for 5 minutes, then set aside.
Add a little oil to the pan and add the chicken on a med heat. After a few minutes, add a pinch of salt, white pepper, a pinch of nutmeg, tsp chicken stock powder, half the lime juice and cook for a further few mins.
Add the onion back into the pan and stir.
Add the chopped tomatoes, 1/2 cup water, mix well and let it simmer on a low heat for 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, put the grated potato in a bowl with the rest of the lime juice, orange juice, sugar, parsley, a pinch of nutmeg and turmeric and mix well.
Preheat oven to 180c / 350f.
Butter 2 small oven proof dishes or 1 medium sized dish (enough for 2 large portions).
Spread each dish with a layer of the potato mix, using about half.
Let the chicken & tomato mix cool a little, then put a layer of chicken into each dish on top of the spuds.
Drain any excess liquid from the remaining potatoes and then spread the rest over the chicken.
Dot with the remaining butter and bake for 1 hour, until golden brown.
Ingredients at the ready
Chicken & tomato mix
Compiling the dish
Ready for the oven
Ready to eat!