Raise your hand if you love mushrooms? Soft and slimy, dried and crunchy, added to rice and other dishes… you name it, they taste good in any form!
After much thought, we decided to share with you Haiti’s regional specialty that is so coveted that tourists dedicated entire days to find them at farmer’s markets. They sell out fast and seeing your fresh face; vendors raise the prices. If you can’t find the crunchy snack kinds, then there’s another way to enjoy this dish.
Christmas is approaching, and restaurants will soon start serving this delicacy. If you are a foodie, then a trip to Haiti is a must!
History of Black Mushrooms
Black mushrooms in Haitian cuisine are considered a regional specialty. They aren’t your usual dried fungus. They are a rare delicacy, which grows in the mountainous region of Artibonite’s fertile valley, also called “the country’s rice bowl.” They are hand-picked from August till October, during Haiti’s rainy season.
Black mushrooms are considered unique because they are hard to find and are available at an exorbitant price outside of Haiti. Finding these black beauties is not easy. They are hidden in the crevices and crannies of deadwood and cannot be eaten raw.
How Black Mushrooms Became Djon Djon
In Haiti, rice with black mushrooms is called Diri ak Djon Djon. This dish is mostly eaten in the Northern Region of Haiti, which is why it’s considered a specialty. After the mushrooms are picked, they are dried in a controlled environment.
Chefs and many Haitians prefer to use the dried version of black mushrooms because the fresh ones have a putrid and intense stench that can overpower the main ingredient.
Rice with black mushroom does not have any ancient history like the Pumpkin Soup. However, because the mushrooms are rare, it’s only mostly served at special occasions such as parties, weddings, Sunday dinners, Thanksgiving and Christmas
Diri ak Djondjon
Haitian rice with black mushroom is cooked with two simple ingredients: Djondjon and rice. The dried black mushrooms release a black hue that gives the rice a distinctive color, aroma, and flavor. To make the dish more exciting, some people even add meat to eat. However, keeping true to tradition, you will find this dish infused with spices and Epis.
- Rice (2 cups)
- Black Mushrooms – Djon Djon (2 cups)
- Maggi (1/2 Tablet)
- Epis (1 tbsp)
- Water (4 cups)
- Salt (1/4 tsp)
- Cloves (3)
- Parsley (1 sprig)
- Thyme (1 sprig)
- Green Peas (1/2 cup dried or 1 cup fresh) – Half cup dried becomes 1 cup fresh after soaking (You may also use lima beans)
- Scotch bonnet or Habanero pepper (1) – Poke the pepper with the cloves
- Cloves (3)
- Olive oil (2 tbsp)
- Butter (1/2 tsp) Ti malice or Lily Chaloner cooking butter
- Shrimp (1/3 cup) Optional
- If you are using dried peas, soak the peas for 2.5-3 hours. The peas should look almost like fresh peas by then. Throw away the water and keep the peas. There is no need to boil the peas.
- Put the mushroom in a bowl and clean it. Look out for small rocks or chips. There are three ways you can prepare the mushroom water:
- 1. Soak the mushroom in 4 cups of hot water for at least two hours
- 2. Blend the mushroom with 4 cups of water
- 3. Boil the mushroom in 4 cups of water
- You may also use djondjon maggi
- If you choose to soak the mushroom, use your hand to squeeze the mushroom to produce as much dark water as possible. Regardless of which of the first three methods you use, remember to strain the mushroom to separate the mushroom from the black mushroom’s water. Set the water aside and throw the mushroom in the trash. If you notice the mushroom still has enough dark juice in it, feel free to add more water and drain again. If the dark water produced will be too much for your rice, feel free to freeze the rest for another dish.
- In a medium pot, add the epis, shrimp if you choose, and oil and cook for two minutes on medium heat and stir. Add the peas, Maggi (or the djon djon maggi if you choose the fourth method), and cook for three minutes. Stir with a medium to large spoon but be careful not to crush the peas.
- Add the black mushroom or djondjon water, salt, butter, thyme, parsley (tie the parsley and thyme), pepper, and cloves, and bring to a boil. Taste the water to make sure it tastes okay. You may want to taste it before adding the salt.
- Once the rice water starts boiling, wash your rice, and drain the water. Add the rice to the pot. Stir once, cover, and cook for about 12 minutes on medium heat or until all the water is gone.
- Lower the heat and stir the rice from the sides and bottom. You may notice that most of the dark rice sit at the bottom of the pot, so bring them to the top. Be careful not to crush the pepper with the spoon. Cover and slow cook for 15-20 minutes on low heat.
- The low heat will allow the rice to finish cooking, and it also produces some crusty rice at the bottom of the pot called “graten” in Haitian Creole.
- Remove the pepper with cloves, parsley, and thyme.
*Serves 3-4 people.
Even though this is a simple dish, it only contains rice and black mushrooms. Still, the latter ingredient elevates it to a delicacy. You won’t know how good this rice tastes until you try it. Serve this dish with chicken.
Check out our YouTube video to see how to make this dish.