Cuisine of Netherlands

There is a lot that the Dhutch cuisine owes to the Middle Ages, which left a significant impact on how the foods are prepared even today in spite of international character of the nation. “After World War II the down-to-earth Dutch approach toward cooking changed drastically, and apart from potatoes, staple foods such as rice and pasta started to appear regularly on the dinner table. Vegetables and legumes are commonly boiled in water and remain a more important food choice than meat, fish or meat alternatives. This is reflected in popular language, as dinner is many times referred to as agv-aardappel, groente, vlees or potato, vegetables, meat .”

In the past, religion influenced the Dutch diet as the two were thoroughly intertwined, and segregation, religious freedom and tolerance resound in Dutch lifestyle. Consequently many dishes were prepared and eaten according to religious calendars, laws and requirements, for example “fish on Friday. ” Dairy products are the Netherlands’ staple per se and the average consumption in very high. Milk is drunk by everyone and “besides butter, the Dutch are renowned for their yellow cheeses.”

The Dutch cuisine mostly follows the seasons and the diet is high in potatoes. Other vegetables are also very popular such as carrots, leeks, cabbages and onions. “Generally, tomatoes cucumber, cauliflower and lettuce are the most consumed vegetables, but in season locally cultivated produce such as carrots, spinach, beans, peas… or one of the various kinds of cabbages is very popular. ”

Interestingly enough, most Dutch do not eat meat every day, though meat remains for many the most important source of protein. Spices are traditionally used in the Dutch cooking but in moderation. Curly parsley, flat celery leaves, and chives are among the most used fresh herbs. Parsley and chives are finely chopped, and parsley is particularly popular for all kinds of soups, salads and sandwiches. Together with the celery root, celery leaves are primarily boiled and used for erwtensoep, a thick soup of dried peas. ” A dash of nutmeg on vegetable dishes is much loved. Suriname, a country which is located in the north-eastern coast of South America, was a Dutch colony until the 1970’s. The Dutch brought African slaves during the slavery period and after abolition of slavery, Indian and Indonesian labourers to work on their plantations. These workers made their favourite dishes with locally available ingredients. Their cooking gradually blended with the native and European dishes (there’s Chinese influence too), and all of this together became modern Surinamese cuisine. In the 1970’s, a lots of Surinamese immigrated to the Netherlands, before the independence of Suriname. In this way the Surinamese cuisine ended up in the Netherlands and gradually influenced the Dutch dishes.

Erwtensoep Split green pea soup

  • 300g dried green split peas washed
  • 1 small onion or ¼ cabbage head finely chopped and 1 tsp asafoetida
  • 1 celery stalk chopped
  • 1 small celeriac diced
  • 2 medium carrots diced
  • 1 large potato peeled and diced
  • Vegetable stock or water (at least 1, 5 l)
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Celery leaves chopped for garnish (use lighter coloured ones from the centre of the plant)
  • Fresh parsley leaves chopped for garnish (optional)
  • Rye bread or toasted white bread
  • Smoked cheese and vegan sausage or frankfurters sliced (optional)

Bring the stock or water with the washed green split peas to a boil and simmer covered on a slow flame for 45 minutes stirring occasionally. Next add all the vegetables and cook for half an hour or until the peas are completely dissolved and the vegetables tender. Season well. The soup should be quite thick but if you want it really traditional the spoon can stand upright in it. To achieve this, cool the soup quickly by placing the pot in a sink filled with cold water. They say the soup is at its best the next day, so place it in the fridge and reheat it the following day. Serve it in bowls and garnish chopped celery leaves and sliced smoked vegan frankfurters or sausage and on the side with a slice of rye bread or toasted white bread and optionally smoked cheese.

Stamppot – mashed root vegetables

  • 600g potatoes peeled and diced
  • 300g butternut squash peeled and diced
  • 3 large carrots peeled and diced
  • 1 large parsnip peeled and diced
  • 1 medium turnip peeled and diced
  • 400g mixed leafy green vegetables (savoy cabbage, kale, spinach, Swiss chard, etc.) chopped
  • 80g butter or refined coconut oil and 2 tbsp olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • Handful of fresh parsley leaves for garnish chopped (optional)
  • Vegetarian smoked sausage (optional)

Place all the vegetables in a pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil over high heat and let it simmer for 20 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Drain and mash but leave some texture. Season to taste and add the fats. Serve garnished with parsley alongside vegetarian smoked sausage if desired.

Bara – fluffy green gram fritters

  • 250g green gram (mung bean) flour
  • 125g self-rising flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 small onion chopped or 1 tsp asafoetida
  • 1 garlic clove minced (optional)
  • 1 tsp curry powder
  • 1 tsp cumin powder
  • 1 tsp coriander powder
  • 100g fresh spinach chopped
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • Water
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 l vegetable oil for frying

Sift together all the dry ingredients, spices and seasonings. Add onion, garlic and spinach. Next add the oil and enough water to make very thick batter. Let it sit in a warm place for at least four hours to ferment. When you are ready to make Bara heat up the oil to high heat. Always wet your hands before shaping each individual Bara. Take a little more than a golf ball of dough and flatten in on a palm of your hand and make a hole in the middle with your finger to achieve a doughnut like shape. Transfer the Bara to your other hand and carefully slide it into the oil. Fry on both sides until golden brown and drain on paper towels. Serve with Tomato Sambal.

Tomato Sambal – simple tomato sauce

  • 300g very ripe tomatoes skinned and chopped
  • 1 tsp asafoetida or 1 small onion finely chopped
  • ½ bell pepper or chilli finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • Salt and sugar to taste

Heat up oil in a frying pan over medium-high heat. Sauté the onion and pepper for a few minutes until translucent and asafoetida just for a few seconds. Stir in chopped tomatoes, sugar and salt and cook on low for 10 minutes stirring occasionally. Serve hot or cold as an accompaniment for Bara.

Oliebollen Doughnut balls

  • 500g all-purpose flour
  • 30g fresh yeast
  • 200g raisins soaked in hot water and drained and patted dry
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • Seeds of 1 vanilla pod
  • 500 ml lukewarm buttermilk or soymilk curdled with little lemon juice
  • 2 l vegetable oil for frying (sunflower or canola for example)
  • Powdered sugar

Dissolve the sugar and yeast in 100 ml of milk and wait that the yeast activates. Combine flour, salt and vanilla seeds in a large mixing bowl then pour over yeast and sugar mixture and remaining milk and mix everything with a wooden spoon until thoroughly combined and you get a smooth batter. Add the raisins and mix to distribute them evenly in the batter. Cover with a damp kitchen cloth and let rise in a warm place for hour and a half or until double in volume. Heat the oil in a pot to 175 °C.

You can also check if the oil is ready by placing a wooden spoon handle in the oil and if small bubbles rise it is perfect. Use an oiled spoon or metal ice cream scoop to fry oliebollen. Be careful when dipping the batter into the oil and make sure you don’t overcrowd the pot. Fry for 4-5 minutes or until golden brown rotating them once in between with a fork. Take them out of the oil and drain excess oil on a paper towel. Repeat until you use all the batter. Sprinkle fried oliebollen with powdered sugar and serve hot.