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Rising up on my toes at the age of three to catch a glimpse of what was causing such happy commotion at the dinner table is my earliest memory of the samosa. Being an only child in the group, I was disadvantaged.... Read more
What: Besides the more widespread culinary influence of Indonesia, another of Holland’s former colonies has infiltrated Amsterdam’s food scene: Suriname. To understand the Surinamese food you’ll encounter here, you should know some of that country’s background, as tiny Suriname, situated on the northern coast of South America, is one of the more unusually diverse places on Earth. In a nutshell, the Dutch, once they finally abolished African slavery in the 19th century, began bringing over laborers from Indonesia, India, and China to work on their plantations there; those workers, in turn, brought their own food traditions, adapting them as needed with Surinamese ingredients (such as tropical fruits; seafood; cassava, malanga, and other tubers; plantains; see also: broodje pom). When Suriname was granted independence in 1975, its people were given the choice of Surinamese or Dutch citizenship, and nearly half the population at that time opted to migrate to the Netherlands, thus bringing their intriguing multicultural cuisine—comprising indigenous, African, European, and Asian influences—with them.
History lesson aside, it’s not surprising that Amsterdam today is a fabulous place to explore Surinamese food. Here’s where to do it.
Where: Among the cluster of Surinamese restaurants located near Albert Cuypmarket in De Pijp is Albina (020-675-5135; Albert Cuypstraat 69, map), an inexpensive, no-frills kind of joint with a vast menu reflecting the cuisine’s mashup of Surinamese, Chinese, Indian, and Indonesian foods. (Officially, it’s a Surinamese-Chinese restaurant.)
When: Tues-Sat, 11:30am-10pm; Sun, noon-10pm
Order: Indian-inflected roti with curry is perhaps one of the most common Surinamese dishes you can get in Amsterdam. Pictured is the roti kippenbout (€5,50), pairing the large, flaky, buttery flatbread with a spicy, flavorful chicken-drumstick curry studded with potato, vegetables, and hard-boiled egg. It was delicious. But the options are endless, even overwhelming here. Consider a traditional moksi meti (roasted pork and chicken stewed with kousenband, or green beans), which you can have with white rice, Chinese-style chow mein (tjauw min), Indonesian-style stir-fried noodles (bami goreng), or Indonesian fried rice (nasi goreng). Interesting snacks include plantain fritters (baka bana), with or without peanut sauce; Hindustani doughnuts called bara; and bojo, a cake made of cassava, coconut, and raisins. And if you haven’t tried a broodje pom yet, this is a good place to get it (or try the pom with rice and green beans). Make good use of the hot sauce on the tables, if you dare.
Alternatively: Particularly famous for its roti is Lalla Rookh (Wijttenbachstraat 290, map), a popular Surinamese restaurant near Oosterpark in the east of town, and we can vouch for the pom at De Tokoman (two locations including Waterlooplein 327, map). Another great choice is Riaz (Bilderdijkstraat 193, map) in Oud-West, in business for 30-plus years and celebrated for such traditional favorites as pindasoep (spicy peanut soup) and her heri, a stew of cassava, sweet potato, plantain, and salted cod.
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