DOMINICAN PANTRY & TOOLS
The Dominican Pantry is comprised of many herbs, vegetables, spices and grains. The following are the most common herbs, vegetables and spices that are used in most Dominican dishes.
Aji Gustoso (a.k.a. aji dulce, ajicito, aji cachucha) Is a green or red pepper, very small in size. It has the same shape as the Jamaican Scotch Bonnet Pepper, but without the intense heat. It adds a distinct flavor to dishes.
All Spice (malagueta) Is a berry that resembles a peppercorn. We use them in teas and soups
Anise Seed (Anis) Belongs to the parsley family. Its taste is compared to licorice. It smells sweet. We use it in desert dishes, breads, fritters, etc.
Auyama (a.k.a ayote, zapallo, calabasa or buttercup squash) Is part of the Turban Squash family. The inside has an orange color with a creamy and sweet taste. However, it is less sweet than sweet potato. It can be baked, mashed, pureed, steamed or stuff. In the Dominican Republic, it used in soups, beans, stews, and in breakfast food
Batata (a.k.a boniato, camote) Is similar to sweet potato. However, batata is white inside, instead of orange. The outside flesh is purple red. It is high in vitamin A and B-carotene
Bija (Anatto, Achiote)
Cilantro Is similar to parsley. However, it has a more citrus taste. We use it in just about everything from beans, stews, soup, etc.
Cinnamon Is a dried bark that rolled up and dried. It comes from the laurel tree. We use it dishes are sweet such as cakes, cookies etc.
Culantro (a.k.a. Recao, Chicoria, Culantro de Pata, Alcanate) Is a close relative of the cilantro. Although, their physical appearance are different, their aroma are similar. In terms of taste, culantro is more pungent.
Mortar and Pestle (pilon) Is a tool commonly used to crush, grind or mix herbs or food. The mortar is the bowl and the pestle is a heavy stick with a round tip for pounding the herbs or food. Traditionally, they are made of wood. However, they can be found made of hard plastic, stone, etc.
Nutmeg (Nuez Mocada)
Tayota, Chayote or Christophine Is considered a fruit, shaped similar to a pear. It can be eaten raw, boiled, baked, fried or pickled. It is bland if no seasoning is added. It is rich in amino acids and vitamin C.
Thyme (Diten, Tomillo) Is a green leafy herb when fresh and grayish brown when dried. We use it in beans, soups, stews and meats. It adds nutty flavor to the dishes
Tostonera Is a presser used to give fried plantains a flat or round shape. It is traditionally made of wood (picture logo)
Yautia (malanga) Is a root vegetable. It is similar to yucca, rough in the outside. However, inside is white with pink streaks. It has a creamy texture when boiled. It tastes a bit sweet. When purchasing one, make sure it is hard to the touch, not soft.
Yuca Is a root vegetable. It has a tough brown skin and white flesh. When cooked, it has a hint of sweet. It can be cooked al dente or softer for purees.