mangú: mashed plátano, topped with vinegary onions. Key component of the Dominican breakfast, along with the ‘tres golpes’ (three hits or blows) of egg, cheese and salami (all fried).
mofongo: mashed plátano, with garlic and chicharrón. Sometimes made with chicken, fish, or seafood.
moro: spiced rice and beans
papas fritas: French fries or chips
pedazo: piece. e.g. un pedazo de pollo
pica pollo: Dominican fried chicken. Crispy on the outside, juicy on the inside. A mouth-watering local staple.
plátanos: plantain. Remember this word, as you’ll hear it a lot around town. Watch out for the pick-up truck filled with plátanos, blaring its sales pitch over loud speakers! Read more about the power of plátanos, and how to prepare them at home.
pollo guisado: stewed chicken that falls off the bone. This deserves a special mention, as it’s what you ask for to order the standard chicken, rice, and beans lunch.
puré: mash. e.g. puré de papa or puré de yuca.
queso frito: fried cheese
sancocho: brothy meat and vegetable soup, served with rice alongside or straight in the bowl.
servicio: a serving, portion, or helping
tostones: twice-fried plátano slices, Dominican equivalent of French fries. A must-try.
yuca: cassava. Very widely eaten in the DR.
Top tip: Watch out for diminutives, they are used all the time when talking about food. Or anything, really.
So, pollo becomes pollito, pescado might be pescadito, empanadita, platanito. Don’t let it throw you, it just means ‘little’ and is an affectionate mannerism.
Dominican Cooking is a great place to find recipes, if you fancy recreating your vacation comedor meals at home.