Relleno Negro or Black Dinner
Don’t be scared by its “unique” name or by its color, this soup is one of the heartiest, soul warming soups you will ever taste. Relleno Negro or Black Dinner is a Mayan dish quite popular in Belize; the black color comes from a Mayan condiment called black recado which gives the dish a smoky, spicy, and strong flavor. The soup includes a mixture of chicken, ground beef and pork (which are the base of the huge meatballs), eggs, garlic, onions, tomatoes, chili, and other Belizean spices. Take a chance, be adventurous, and try this soup, we’re pretty sure you’ll be asking for the recipe from a local before you leave.
Coming to Belize and NOT having Tamales has to be some sort of blasphemy. A Tamal is a delicious traditional Mesoamerican dish that begins with layering corn dough (also known as masa), an orang-ish sauce called cull, which is made with red achiote paste, garlic, onions and a blend of spices, and finished off with seasoned cooked chicken. These three are layered in a roasted plantain leaf, which is what holds this mouth-watering Belizean dish together. The plantain leaf is then folded into and envelope style package and wrapped with twine then steamed to perfection and served hot with a side of hot Belizean onion sauce or pico de gallo. This dish screams traditional Belizean Cuisine and is a must have when in Belize. Just remember to remove the plantain leave before eating…it is not bitter green lettuce.
Traditionally, cochinita pibil was buried in a pit with a fire at the bottom to roast it. Cochinita means “young pig” and the Maya word pibil means “buried”. But now, Belizean cooks have found a way of getting that smoky flavour without having to do all that hard work. One way is to take a ham leg or shoulder and season it with traditional spices, wrap it in a plantain leaf (for additional smoky flavor) and slow cook it in a large pot or slow cooker. Cochinita Pibil which ever way it is cooked is loaded with flavor and is absolutely delicious! It is mainly served tacos style with fresh corn tortillas and topped with cilantro, pickled or raw sliced onions and avocado chunks (and habanero pepper to taste, depending on how Belizean you are).
Rice and Beans
Rice and Beans is locally called the National Dish of Belize, mainly because it is eaten by a large percentage of the population on Sundays. The rice and beans are cooked together with coconut milk and is complimented perfectly with stewed chicken made with a blend of Belizean spices, potato salad and fried ripe plantain. There’s a reason this dish is eaten every Sunday (and other days during the week) by many, It’s just a perfect combination and represents the Belizean culture so well: Many different flavors (cultures) all in one plate (country).
Ceviche was not invented in Belize, but actually in Peru and can be found all over Central America and Mexico. None the less, like most other things in Belize, the ceviche here has its own twist. While most ceviche found in other countries are a bit sweeter with little sea food found in them, the Belizean ceviche is tangy and loaded with sea food. Belizean Ceviche is made with conch, fish, shrimp, lobster, or a mix of all four and is definitely a top 6 must have dishes in Belize. Ceviche consists of chucks of seafood of your choice, diced onions, tomatoes, and chopped cilantro, salt, black pepper, and lots of natural lime juice. Served with a side of freshly fried corn tortilla chips you cannot go wrong with this perfect afternoon snack while lounging on the beach.
Panades is definitely a taste bud teaser and you’ll be without a doubt asking for second. Panades or in Spanish called Empanadas are crispy golden brown pockets of deliciousness. Panades are made with corn dough, also called masa and are started off flat like a tortilla and layered with either beans, cooked fish or chicken, folded and deep fried until golden brown. Panades are normally served with an onion-cilantro salsa that screams scrumptiousness in your mouth. This is the Belizean version of fast food and is cheap and easy to find all over Belize.
Remember to take your taste buds on an adventure while in Belize, and make sure to share your thoughts and pictures of your culinary experience in Belize with us. Look out for recipes for each of these dishes and much more!