Nyanan explores the rich and complex history of the Surinamese kitchen, and is specifically highlighting colonial influences.

Surinamese cuisine is a cultural melting pot, formed by a fusion of indigenous, African, European, Asian and Caribbean influences.

Suriname's colonial history, which introduced different population groups through its history of enslavement and contract labour, created a unique culinary mix. These colonial relationships have left deep marks on Surinamese cuisine and led to a dynamic fusion of flavours, ingredients and cooking techniques.

It is important not to ignore the history of colonial rule and its impact on the Surinamese kitchen. It reminds us of the unequal power relations, the suffering of the enslaved and the resilience of the Surinamese people in preserving and transforming their culinary heritage.

The photographs tell the historical layers of Surinamese cuisine.

Surinamese cuisine is not only a source of food is but also a powerful expression of the resilience, diversity and cultural mixing of the Surinamese people. Through photographs, Charmaine aims to pay tribute to the people who have contributed to Suriname's tasty and complex culinary traditions for generations.

Cassava played an important role during the colonial era in Suriname. As one of the main crops on plantations, cassava was grown for consumption by both the colonial rulers and the enslaved population.

For the enslaved population, cassava was an important staple food. They grew and processed cassava on the plantations to meet their own nutritional needs. Cassava bread, cassava soup and other cassava dishes were everyday meals for the enslaved people, who had to manage their own nutrition with limited resources.

Cassava was thus not only a nutritious crop, but also a symbol of colonial rule and the relationship between the colonial rulers and the enslaved population in Suriname. It reflected the enslaved people's dependence on the land and the crops they grew on the plantations, and the complex dynamics of food production and consumption during the colonial era.


Roti may have a permanent place in Surinamese cuisine, but actually, the origin of roti comes from India. When Hindus emigrated from India to Suriname, they brought roti with them. When enslavement was abolished in Suriname by law in 1863, Hindus came to work on the plantations as replacements.

The origin of bakkeljauw in Suriname comes from the Netherlands. The Dutch brought dried fish to Suriname, and enslaved people started incorporating it into their own dishes. This created dishes such as moksi alesi and heri heri.

Cassava Bread
Cassava bread's origins are from the Maroons and the Indigenous people of Suriname. Cassava bread also plays an important role in various cultural celebrations and ceremonies in Suriname. It is often used as part of traditional rituals and is a popular food item during these special occasions.

Ginger Beer

Ginger beer was created by the availability of ginger in Suriname and the culinary influences of various population groups. During the colonial period, people from Asia, Africa and Europe brought their own flavours and dishes, in which ginger was often used. Ginger beer is part of Surinamese creole cuisine, which grew out of Suriname's diverse mix of cultures and culinary traditions. It became popular among the Afro-Surinamese community and is an important part of the creole culinary identity.

Enslaved women in Suriname were inventive and resilient in their pursuit of freedom. Besides hiding rice in their hair as a clever way to smuggle food, some women also took rice stalks with them while attempting to escape to the jungle.
Hiding rice was of great importance as it was a nutritious and valuable food. By hiding rice in their hair, these brave women were able to provide food for themselves and their fellow refugees during their escape.

Pom has its origins in Jewish cuisine.
Pom came to Suriname with the arrival of Jewish communities that settled in Suriname from the sixteenth century onwards. Pom is thus a tasty example of the cultural exchange that took place between different population groups in Suriname.
Copyright © Charmaine de Heij.
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