15 Top Panamanian Cuisine Recipes to Try (Updated 2022)

Typical Panamanian Breakfast -- Fried Cassava, Fried Smashed Green Plantain and Frankfurters.
Typical Panamanian Breakfast– Fried Cassava, Fried Smashed Green Plantain and Frankfurters.

Panamanian cuisine is a mix of African, Spanish, and Native American techniques, dishes, and ingredients, reflecting its diverse population. Since Panama is a land bridge between two continents, it has a large variety of tropical fruits, vegetables, and herbs that are used in native cooking.

Typical Panamanian recipes are mildly flavored, without the pungency of some of Panama’s Latin American and Caribbean neighbors. Common ingredients are maize, rice, wheat flour, plantains, yuca (cassava), beef, chicken, pork and seafood.

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History of Panamanian Food

Panama is perhaps not the first country that springs to mind when it comes to countries famed for their culinary sophistication around the world. But don’t be fooled by this little-known gourmet hotspot.

These typical Panamanian meals will give you a sense of the country. Panama has hosted Spaniards, Africans, Chinese, Indians, Americans, and others over the years, and Panamanian cuisine reflects this unique cultural mix.

Panama has a rich and diversified natural environment, and the same can be said of its food. Panamanian cuisine reflects the country’s history: indigenous and Spanish influences (the conquistadors came in 1501), topped with Afro-Caribbean influences.

Tropical foods such as plantains, pineapples, yuca, corn, and shellfish are heavily favored due to the island’s location. The most prominent comparison for Panamanian cuisine is arguably Creole, which is one of the world’s most well-known cuisines.

Chefs in Panama use a variety of spices, flavors, colors, and plants. As a result, their savory dishes are rich and complex, with a variety of contrasting flavors and textures.

Their sweets are luscious, tropical, and occasionally sour or even acidic. However, one thing is certain. Panamanian cuisine, whether sweet or savory, is delectable and vastly underappreciated.

Panamanians have long appreciated the country’s plethora of delectable, must-try snacks and beverages, and now tourists are beginning to notice.

Bienmesabe, A Traditional Sweet Dessert From Panama. It is the Most Popular Dessert
Bienmesabe, A Traditional Sweet Dessert From Panama. It is the Most Popular Dessert

Traditional Panamanian Food and Authentic Dishes

Traditional Panamanian food is worth exploring. Panamanian cuisine which is ruled by corn, coconuts and diverse fruits due to its tropical climate. While all Latin American countries share culture and language to a certain extent, our traditional gastronomy is different.

Carimañolas, sancocho, and cabanga are some of Panama’s traditional foods. Traditional Panamanian food involves a mix of the Hispanic, African, Indigenous, and Afro Antillean cultures that coexist within the country. Thanks to this, Panamanians use many ingredients in their cuisine.

Panamanian food is as diverse as Panamanians themselves. Whether sweet, savory, or spicy, they’re all mouthwatering. A large part of Panamanian cuisine revolves around staple foods such as rice, corn, yuca, and plantains. An explosive fusion of Native American, Spanish, and African flavors, Panamanian foods bring a huge amount of Central American color, heat, and spice to the table.

Often pairing hearty staples, such as wheat and cassava, with exotic produce, salty-fresh seafood, and plenty of heat, sugar, and spice, there is so much to get excited about when it comes to Panamanian cooking.

Corn-based dishes come from the kernel, cooked in water, and then ground in order to obtain a dough (as opposed to using cornflour to obtain the dough). Fresh corn is also used in some dishes.

Due to the multicultural background, many of the Panamanian dishes are heavily influenced by the cuisine of other Latin American countries and also the Caribbean as well as European. Some of the main meals, dishes and specialties.

Most of the times a Panamian Lunch includes rice, meat, salad and vegetables.
Most of the times a Panamanian Lunch includes rice, meat, salad and vegetables.

FAQs About Panamanian Dishes and Foods

What is a Typical Panamanian Dinner?

The people of Panama can be seen eating the following Panamanian dishes for lunch or dinner:
Arroz with pollo (chicken and rice) – rice in Panama is usually served plain white or yellow.
The chicken is frequently braised or slow cooked and served with veggies in this region (and also, a little less commonly, with beef or pork as the meat component).

What is the Most Typical Food in Panama?

Rice, beans, red meat, chicken, pork, and fish are all common ingredients in Panamanian cuisine.
Because many vegetables do not grow well in the tropics, tourists are unlikely to come across a wide range of vegetables unless they dine in a fine restaurant.
The most common veggies in meals are yuca and plantains.

Are the Panamanian Dishes Spicy?

With such a diverse population, it’s only natural that Panamanians consume a wide range of cuisines, including North American and Spanish.
Traditional food, on the other hand, is most reminiscent of Creole cuisine: fiery and spicy at times, but always hearty, with rice at every meal.

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