The Cuisine of East Timor consists of regional popular foods such as pork, fish, basil, tamarind, legumes, corn, rice, root vegetables, and tropical fruit. East Timorese cuisine has influences from Southeast Asian foods and from Portuguese dishes from its colonisation by Portugal. Flavours and ingredients from other former Portuguese colonies can be found due to the presence of Portuguese soldiers from other colonies in East Timor.
The food in East Timor is divided into two categories: vegetarian and non vegetarian. As agriculture is the main occupation in East Timor, the primary food is rice, which is cultivated widely in this country. Apart from rice, other staple food items that are cultivated in East Timor include sweet potatoes, maize, cassava, and taro. These primary staples are supplemented with beans, cabbage, spinach, onions and cowpeas.
The second category of food consists of poultry, pigs, and goats. Most homes in East Timor raise their own food animals for meat. Fish is also a source of animal protein in this country as fishing is also an important occupation after agriculture.
East Timor National Dishes
Pepes is an Indonesian cooking method using banana leaf as food wrappings. The banana-leaf package containing food is secured with lidi seumat (a small nail made from central rib of coconut-leaf), and then steamed or grilled on charcoal. This cooking technique allows the rich spice mixture to be compressed against the main ingredients inside the individual banana leaf package while being cooked, and also adds a distinct aroma of cooked or burned banana leaf. Although being cooked simultaneously with food, the banana leaf is a non-edible material and is discarded after cooking.