Aruba is a part of the Netherlands Antilles (or Dutch Antilles) and hence also a part of the Netherlands. The island is located very close to the Venezuelan and Colombian coast and has about 100,000 inhabitants. Aruba has a drier climate than most of the Caribbean and is outside of the hurricane belt, which also contribute to its success as a tourist destination (including cruise ship destination), especially among Americans and Venezuelans. The culture has strong Dutch influences, including celebration of Dutch holidays, but also some influences of former Spanish rule. Carnival (Mardi Gras) is a big celebration and starts already in January. Oil products are the main import, but alcohol, cigars, phosphate and aloe are also important.
The Aruban cuisine has been influenced by e.g. South America, Spain and of course the Netherlands. E.g. bitterballen (Dutch meatballs), croquettes, pea soup and satay sauce (Dutch “national dish”, originally from Indonesia) are popular. In general soups tend to be hearty and stew-like. Seafood, coconut and plantains are eaten a lot like in the rest of the Caribbean. Eggplant, papaya, okra and sweet potatoes are also common ingredients. Annatto seeds (ruku) are used as an orange coloring for food. Food is usually served with funchi (cornmeal mush) or pan bati (pancakes), sometimes roti, an Indian flatbread now popular in just about all former Dutch colonies.
There are quite a few recipes for black bean salsas with mango, but in this Aruban version it is seasoned with lime juice and lime zest, which give it a lovely, very aromatic flavour. My mango was too ripe, which meant it started to disintegrate very quickly. I took this photo immediately, but two days later the whole thing was a slimy goo, although still very tasty. So perhaps a ripe but not too ripe mango would work the best… I really recommend making this dish, it’s simple yet very tasty. Despite the relatively large amount of vinegar and lime juice it doesn’t feel tart, because the beans “buffer” it.
Black bean salsa with mango and lime
1 can black beans (or about 1.5 cups/3.6 dl of freshly cooked black beans)
1 medium mango, peeled and finely chopped
1 large red bell pepper, chopped
4 medium green onions, chopped
1 tbsp cilantro
1/2 tsp lime zest
1 tbsp lime juice
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
cayenne pepper, to taste
(salt, to taste, if using non-canned beans)
Mix all the ingredients together. Let sit in the fridge for at least 30 minutes, preferably 2 hours, in the fridge to let the flavours mix. Serve as a side dish or e.g. in tortillas or with tofu scramble. Serves four (depending on what you’re serving it with, of course).