The Top Traditional Garifuna Dishes You Must Try in Belize
Southern Belize is the main home of the Garifuna people, but Garifuna culture and cuisine have been integrated all across Belize. Garifuna food is unique, spicy, and savory with staples such as plantains, coconut, cassava, fish, and bananas. Garifuna food is usually based on these staples. Let’s take a look at some of the top traditional Garifuna dishes that you should make a point to try while in Belize.
This is a fish stew with a coconut base. It’s liberally seasoned with onions, garlic, cilantro, and other Belizean spices. Depending on the cook’s preference, it might also contain potatoes, cassava, okra, or various other vegetables. It’s often served with coconut-infused white rice, but some people also enjoy the stew on its own without rice.
Hudut is actually sere without vegetables. It’s simply coconut broth served with a mashed combo of ripe and green plantain as well as a deep-fried whole fish. Some cooks serve this dish very hot by adding habanero peppers to the broth.
Ereba or Cassava Bread
Ereba is a hard flatbread made primarily from cassava root. It’s a staple snack or side dish that was historically made for warriors by the village women. The bread can last a long time while still maintaining its flavor. The consistency of the bread is more like a chip than the soft flatbread you might be accustomed to from other cultures. Ereba is seasoned according to taste, so flavors might vary widely.
The method of making ereba is unique and interesting. First, the cassava root is grated. The shavings are called shish. The shish is put into a strainer to squeeze out all the moisture. The dried shish is then ground into a fine powder. Large amounts of powder are put into a comal and then cooked. During cooking, a broom-like utensil is used to smack the powder into a compact form.
A delicious and creamy drink made from the cassava root, sahou is a bit like the Garifuna version of eggnog. Along with cassava root, sahou also contains coconut milk, sweetened condensed milk, vanilla extract, cinnamon, and nutmeg. It’s served warm.
Cassava (Plastic) Pudding
Another cassava-based dish, this pudding gets its nickname of plastic pudding from the shiny sheen on top that resembles plastic. The pudding is made from cassava, coconut milk, eggs, butter, brown sugar, and a number of warm spices like cinnamon, allspice, and nutmeg. It’s served in squares and has a slightly rubbery texture.
A traditional Garifuna tamale, darasa is made from coconut milk, citrus, and slightly green bananas. It’s liberally spiced with a variety of favorite Garifuna spices. The mixture is wrapped in a green banana leaf and then placed in boiling water until it turns solid.
A savory stew with the favored Garifuna ingredients of banana and coconut milk, bundiga is served with fresh snapper and a variety of local herbs and spices such as lemongrass, cinnamon, cardamom, and peppers. First-timers to the dish describe it as one of the most unique that they’ve tasted.
The Garifuna love their stews, and tapou is no exception. This stew is created from fish, root vegetables, and green bananas. Garlic and red achiote paste (crushed annatto seeds) give the stew its signature flavor and color. It’s served with a splash of lime, hot sauce, and steaming coconut rice.
This is a very straightforward soup made of conch meat and coconut milk. Fresh local vegetables and spices are added to give it a tantalizing aroma. Conch is often described as tasting somewhat like a crab with a hint of salmon. It’s usually thought of as less fishy-tasting than clams. A conch is not a clam at all, but an oversized sea snail.
Where Can You Find Garifuna Food In Belize?
As mentioned earlier, Garifuna food and culture can be found all throughout Belize. However, the best districts to find restaurants serving Garifuna food are Cayo, Belize, Toledo, and Stann Creek. Garifuna Settlement Day is on November 19, and many restaurants make a point to serve Garifuna food on and around this date.
How Much Does It Cost To Eat Garifuna Food In Belize?
The prices vary depending on the type of restaurant. You can find Garifuna food in upscale luxury restaurants, but you can also find it in food shacks on the street. For example, the average price for hudut or sere is between $10 and $12 BZD. Snacks like ereba, sahou and cassava pudding are usually between $2 and $3 BZD.
Of course, Belize is a melting pot of cultures and you can find almost any type of cuisine here. Garifuna food is simply some of the most traditional and unique. If you’re traveling from Europe or North America, the flavors are likely to be very new and interesting to you.