Panamanian Cuisine

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Panamanian Cuisine is basically a combination of Spanish, African, and Native American dishes, ingredients, and cooking methods. Thus, Panamanian cuisine is a true representation of the country’s diverse population. Panama is located between two continents, making it a “land bridge” of sorts. Therefore, the little country has a huge variety of vegetables, herbs, and tropical fruits. These have been used native cooking since times long ago, and are still prevalent in the cuisine today.

Panamanian Cuisine Public Domain


A national dish and highly popular, is “Changa” – one of many Panamanian dishes made with maize (corn). Most Latin and Central American cuisines feature and abundance of corn-based dishes, like arepas and corn tortillas, but Panamanian cuisine differs somewhat from the others. This is because the corn kernels are first boiled and cooked through in water, and then ground into a dough, rather than using corn flour to make the dough.

Traditionally, Panamanian foods are flavored more mildly than other cuisines in the region, with less spiciness and pungency. The most often used vegetable and starch ingredients are plantains, cassava (yucca) root, rice, wheat flour, and maize. Most common meats are pork, chicken, beef, and also a wide variety of seafood.

Traditional Panamanian cuisine calls for a Christmas meal – a feast, really, that most often will include chicken and rice (arroz con pollo), turkey, puerco asada, rellenos (stuffed peppers, and chicken tamales. Along with the main courses, fruitcakes and bowls of fruits served. Finishing the feast will be desserts, often sweetened with coconut, and beverages. One highly popular and traditional drink is called Ron Ponche (Spanish for “eggnog”), and is made with three cans of evaporated milk, six eggs, two cans of condensed milk, nutmeg, and a very liberal dose of premium quality Caribbean rum.

So now let’s get into the recipes, shall we? Below is a list. Click on the dish you wish to prepare, and you will go to a print-friendly page with just that recipe on it. Off you go now, into the savory and often sweet world of …

Panamanian Cuisine!

Arroz con Pollo

Beef Empanadas


Perry Bay Stew

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