Baja California

Haitian Immigrants Delight Tijuana With Traditional Chicken Recipe

This lady decided to stop cooking for locals and started focusing on Haitian cuisine

TIJUANA.- As the Haitian migrant crisis continues in Tijuana, with thousands awaiting their possible asylum in the U.S., some of them are trying to make the best of the situation with help from a local food vendor's kitchen.

On Ocampo Avenue, between 2nd and 3rd street of Zona Centro (Downtown), Tijuana, there's a small place that has stopped making traditional Mexican fast food to start working with a Haitian recipe that makes immigrants feel more like home. Combined with the love of local residents for new flavors and dishes, the Haitian immigrants have managed to shift some of the public's opinion of them away from fear.

Rosalia stopped cooking for her habitual clients to focus on migrants

It's been approximately a month since Rosalía noticed how Haitians were looking for some food that was similar to their dishes back home, and many of them came to her to ask her to cook chicken, which is the protein they consume the most.

Rosalia Fausta spoke to some Haitian women who shared their recipe for "Fried Haitian Chicken", or poul fri, and even though it sounds ordinary, it's actually an expensive and detailed dish, at least for Rosalía.

Haitian women shared the recipe and now they help prepare it.

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"It's a very complex dish, they have helped me cook it and serve it, now, Haitians are my main clients", said Rosalia.

The place is called "Loncheria Dulce". The size of the establishment is really small but it's the only place that has a bit of that seasoning touch migrants are looking for, just a simple and traditional dish from their country.

Ms. Rosy prepares herself with just the basic elements very early in the morning and starts making the chicken. The whole preparation is a bit tedious, but with help, the task gets easier.

The ingredients are expensive but that's not a problem, for she keeps having more and more people at her door every day.

What makes this recipe special is that it has many spices, which means the dish is full of flavor and even daring for some. The ingredients are garlic, spring onion, chicken broth, lard, and a spicy and special touch: Habanero pepper (YES).

Garlic and habanero pepper are two of the most expensive ingredients.

"It's an expensive dish, mostly because some of the ingredients, lots of gas, and lots of oil", said Rosy.

It would seem that is just another ordinary fried chicken, but it's not, because the recipe is a mix of France and Africa: Exotic, complex, and creole.

A slit separates clients from the establishment.

The dish starts with the cleaning of chicken in boiled water with lemons, then it gets marinated with a mix of garlic, habanero pepper, California pepper and spring onion, after that, they immerse the chicken in lemon water, and later right into the oil to finally fry it.

Chicken submerged in the mix of peppers and vegetables.

The process to order the dish takes time but it's worth it, people are given a tiny cardboard with a number and when the time is right, they go and get it.

Numbered.

Chicken is definitely the main attraction of the dish, but that doesn't mean it needs to go alone, its loyal companion is a delicious rice from which you may get a smoky and irresistible flavor. If you're into vegan food or healthy everything, this is not for you, for this rice is made with pork fat :o.

An order with two pieces of chicken, rice and veggies is only $2.50 dlls and Rosy and company make approximately 100 orders per day.

The dish has that slight spicy flavor everyone can endure and enjoy.

Rosy's establishment is located inside a garage, which clearly demonstrates how local businesses are adapting to offer a vast service answering to the needs of people, such as the Haitian community.

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Translated by: cristina.mora@sandiegored.com

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