From tamales wrapped in banana leaves to stuffed tortillas, traditional Honduras foods blend the cooking techniques and recipes of Spanish, African and indigenous cultures. Surrounding Central American countries serve as culinary influences, stressing the importance of corn, beans, peppers and tomatoes. Honduran cooks also incorporate tropical fruits like papaya and green bananas, and heavily rely on coconut to create savory dishes with sweet undertones.
Corn and Tortillas
Representing the eating habits of their Maya-Lenca ancestry, corn is an important ingredient found in most dishes and is sacred in the eyes of the Mayans. Corn tortillas are a traditional accompaniment to Honduran cuisine, including chilaquiles (tortillas covered in egg and deep-fried) and tortilla con quesillo (made with salty cheese and tomato sauce).
Black beans and cheese create a traditional Honduran appetizer served with tortilla chips for dipping. Peppers or fresh chorizo sausage are also common ingredients. Serve anafres, or black bean fondue, before the start of a meal. It is customary to present the dip over coals in a clay pot.
Chop raw fish, shrimp or conch into small pieces to mix with onions, tomatoes and cilantro to prepare ceviche–a coastal region favorite of Honduras. The dish is marinated in lime or lemon juice to kill bacteria and add flavor. Pair with tortilla chips or soda crackers.
Soups play a significant role in traditional Honduran cuisine–served before or after a meal. Originating in the north coast of Honduras, conch soup, or sopa de caracol, is a popular dish, especially in the Caribbean region. Spices, yucca, cilantro and green plantains (guineo verde) are added to conch (saltwater snails) cooked in coconut milk and broth. Crab, shrimp or fish variations are known as sopa marinera.
Refried beans and cheese fill the inside of folded flour tortillas to create a baleada–a dish topped with sour cream before serving. Similar to the American quesadilla, the baleada is a versatile meal. Add scrambled eggs for breakfast or include roasted chicken or pork for a hearty lunch or dinner.
Growing in the driest of soil, the yucca root is a staple crop for poorer regions in Honduras. Serve yucca with raw cabbage and lemon to enhance its flavor. Top the cabbage with chicharrones–deep-fried, seasoned pork fat and skin, tomato hot sauce and mojo–for a regional treat. Optional ingredients include oil, garlic, onion, oregano, bitter orange or lime juice.
Tres Leches Cake
Three kinds of milk (evaporated, sweetened condensed and cream) create the distinct taste of pasel de tres leche, a sugary, creamy dessert best served cold. Preparation includes soaking the cake in the three milks to produce a moist, rich texture. Toppings include a sprinkle of cinnamon or fresh berry garnish.