Cooking Traditional Cuban Food

cuban food rice and beans

When Spaniards first arrived in Cuba in 1492 they encountered indigenous individuals who lived by hunting, fishing, gathering and the cultivation of cassava, yams, maize and black beans. As a consequence of the new diseases and living conditions brought in by the colonisers. The original Cuban Indians eventually became all, but extinct and cultivated which had been previously grown gave way to new ones brought from Spain. The only dish which has been handed down from that time is casabe, a round thin cake made from cassava which is grated, dried, pounded and cooked. The Spanish contribution to local cuisine included not only ingredients, but additionally techniques and dishes that acquired their very own idiosyncratic character once they took root in Cuba.

Street market in Havana, Cuba
Street market in Havana, Cuba

The 2nd major influence was African, arriving with the slaves which had been brought to the island to undertake the hardest physical labour. From Africa came foods like okra, taro root and plantains. Another noteworthy occasion was the arrival of Chinese immigrants throughout the mid nineteenth century. Their contribution includes soybean sauce and Chinese style rice. Thick and thin bean soups are an integral part of the Cuban diet, some of those have their basis in traditional Spanish cooking. White, black and kidney beans, dried peas and garbanzo beans are the most often used legumes. Stews and casseroles also play a dominant role in Cuban cookery.

The sofrito a mixture of lightly fried onion, garlic, green pepper and sometimes tomatoes is the basis for seasoning Cuban dishes to which cumin is added, oregano and serrated cilantro are frequently added. Pork and poultry are favourite meats in Cuba. A leg of pork, marinated in the juice of bitter oranges, salt, crushed garlic and oregano before being roasted, always forms the centerpiece on special occasions. This is accompanied with a leafy or vegetable salad. After everybody has gorged themselves on these succulent delights they somehow find room for traditional Cuban puddings so sweet as to defy credibility, which includes creams and baked desserts and fruits like guava, pineapple, mango, grapefruit, oranges, papaya and grated coconut drowned in sugar syrup.

cuban food rice

It’s still unclear as to how rice became central to Cuban cuisine, but for a Cuban a meal without rice is simply not complete. The latter concoction is usually referred to as? yellow rice? because it acquires a yellow orange color from the annatto added to it. Fried food is a constant feature of Cuban meals. The word vianda in Spanish means food, as with the slightly archaic English usage? viands? , but in Cuba it became the collective term for root veggies like potatoes, cassava, squash, yams and a broad range of yams, all of that are typically eaten fried or boiled. Crisp green or mixed salads are always seen on Cuban tables.

There are a lot of great paladares (local restaurantes) in Cuba, you can discover the list of our best 10.