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This year, Semana Santa (Easter week), known as well as the ‘Semana Mayor’ (Main Week) took place from April 1st to April 8th. At this time, like in many other countries, the Dominican Republic conmemorates Jesus’ suffering, death and resurrection – when Dominicans love spending quality time with their families preparing an original and exquisite dessert and longtime Dominican tradition called “Habichuelas con dulce” (Sweet Beans)!
Since Dominicans are known to be cheerful and always looking forward to join any party, we always find an excuse to join all members of our families in one big celebration – and one great excuse is this very special tradition which will never be missing from any Dominican home during this time.
For those of you who visit us in Casa de Campo and do not know what the “Habichuelas con dulces” or Sweet Beans are, it is actually quite an easy dessert to prepare while relaxing at your own private Casa de Campo villa:
“Habichuelas con Dulce” (Sweet Beans) ingredients :
1 pound of red beans,
1 large can of evaporated milk (carnation)
1 large can of condensed milk,
8 cinnamon sticks and 8 cloves,
1/2 cup raisins,
1 tablespoon vanilla
1 pound diced sweet potato,
Small milk cookies to decorate and give a special touch
The red beans should be softened in a pan of water (preferably with a lot of water and in one of these pressure cookers). These must then be blended, strained and put over medium heat in a pot or medium non-stick pot.
Instead of cooking with the traditional salty flavor used for the traditional Dominican meal, pour the evaporated and condensed milk, constantly stirring it while adding raisins and diced sweet potatoes. Leave the “Habichuelas con dulce” to boil for a few minutes (ONLY a few minutes), taste it a little to make sure they are actually sweer – if not, add sugar until you are satisfied with its taste!
This is the time of the year in which people tend to stirr a lot because of the sweet beans… and since this is a way of preventing them from burning or sticking to the pots, keep on stirring until you see it becomes thicker and the sweet potatoes turn much softer. And Voilá! Turn off the heat, add the milk biscuits and enjoy this spectacular Dominican dessert with your family!
Other peculiar situations / traditions commonly seen during “Semana Santa” Easter Week in the Dominican Republic:
♦ Since this is known to be the start of a rather hot season.. and since we are in the tropics, the weather can be “surprising” – we can guarantee it will definitely rain at least one day during this Easter week.
♦ Most Dominicans like to go to the Beach on this week! So this is why you will find literally hundreds or thousands of Dominicans filling up the Dominican Republic’s most beautiful beaches!
Let this be a fun time to share with your relatives! Enjoy and be safe!
Photo credit: Rodolfo Bournigal