Most people only know Haiti as the location of the tragic earthquake in early 2010, and that it is a very poor country, the poorest country in the Americas. It is located in the same island of Hispaniola as Dominican republic. It was the first independent country in Latin America and the first black-led republic in the world after gaining independence as early as 1804. It is the only French-speaking country in South America. Besides a colonial past of exploitation Haiti has witnessed dictators, coups and revolts – and severe deforestation..
The Haitian cuisine has been heavily influenced by the French and African cuisines, as well as Spanish and Taíno. Like in many other Caribbean countries, rice and beans are a staple. Besides rice, other popular starches include corn, millet, sweet potato, yam, potato and breadfruit. They also eat a lot of plantains, tomatoes, onions, bell peppers and fish. Chili is used quite a lot, but not as heavily as in some other cuisines. Garlic, herbs and citrus fruit juices are also popular spices. These ingredients are commonly cooked into stews. Spaghetti is common as a breakfast dish.
I went through several recipes for sauce pois (also known as sauce aux pois or sòs pwa). In most the beans are pureed, in others they are not or only partially. There were several ingredients not included in all of the recipes – some had scallions, some had shallots, some had both, some had hot peppers, some also featured thyme and cloves. There is also sauce pois noir, made with black beans.
From a Haitian cookbook I browsed via Google Books it seems like all of these are traditional Haitian ingredients which are often combined in the same recipe, so I decided to use all of them (some recipes also had ham, which I left out). I based it mostly on this recipe. Unfortunately I lost my cooking notes, but this is probably roughly how I made the dish. It was a bit too bland for my tastes, you couldn’t really taste the spices (1 cup of dried beans is a lot).
1 cup/2.4 dl dried kidney beans
4-5 cups/1-1.2 l water
3 cloves garlic
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves or 4 whole cloves
2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
1 shallot, chopped
1 scallion (spring onion), chopped
1/2 tsp fresh thyme leaves or 1 tsp dried
1 small chili, chopped
salt to taste
Soak the beans overnight and drain. Place the beans in a large saucepan with the amount of water specified in the recipe and all the other ingredients except for salt/Maggi. Simmer for an hour, or until the beans are tender.
Puree either all of the beans or 2/3 or 3/4 of them together with their liquid. Add the salt (and Maggi). Simmer for 30 minutes more. Serve with rice or Haitian “polenta”. Serves 4-6.