East Timorese Dishes: Try the Food of Timor Leste
The Cuisine of East Timor
In East Timor, the gastronomy is mostly influenced by Southeast Asian foods and the Portuguese typical dishes from its period under Portuguese influence.
Regional popular ingredients are pork, basil, vegetables, fish, rice, corn, tropical fruit, and root vegetables.
Popular Dishes in East Timor
Like many other countries in the region, the food of East Timor is typically divided into two different categories: non-vegetarian and vegetarian.
Since agriculture is one of the most important sectors in the country, the cuisine uses mainly rice (since its largely homegrown). Other types of main bases for the dishes of East Timor are sweet potatoes, corn, cassava (a type of mandioca) and taro.
To add up to the base of every dish there is usually a vegetable component, also with homegrown products such as cow-peas, onions, spinach, and cabbage.
In East Timor is common for the family to domesticate some sort of livestock, hence you know that this will also be a part of their cuisine.
Commonly, you find the dishes combine pigs, poultry and goats. Together with meat, fish also occupies a huge range of food (since after agriculture is the nations second biggest sector).
Usually, the fish is fried and prawns are considered a national delicacy. Below there are a couple of national dishes and some links to their recipes in case you want to give it a try yourself at home before you eat the real food of East Timor:
- Ai Manas: is the heartbeat of Timorese food. This spicy chili is made throughout the country with regional varieties and differences according to taste that varies from household to household. Typically Green or red chillis make up the bulk of the paste, which is ground with garlic, lime/lemon rind, red onions, ginger, bilimbi, and many other local ingredients. A couple of teaspoons on your plate will be sure to fire up any meal.
- Batar Da’an: a mix of pumpkin, corn, and beans (recipe here)
- Bibinka: grilled and layered coconut cake.
- Budu: sauce of tomato, mint, lime, and Spanish onion.
- Caril: mild chicken curry with potatoes and coconut paste.
- Feijoada: a common dish of former Portuguese colonies, it is made with pork, cannellini beans, and chorizo.
- Ikan Sabuko: a Spanish mackerel in tamarind marinade with basil and chili.
- Katupa: rice on coconut milk.
- Tapai: slightly alcoholic made with fermented rice (recipe here)
- Tukir: marinated meat (typically deer or buffalo) slow roasted in whole sections of large bamboo over coals.