Typical Gronings foods
What are Groningen’s most distinctive culinary contributions? Here’s your guide to the flavours of Groningen, and some recipes to make them at home!
What is Groningen cuisine?
Let’s be real: Dutch cuisine is not exactly famous internationally. Italian, French, Chinese and Mexican dishes are household names the world over, but stamppot and bitterballen? Not so much.
Yet Dutch goodies are actually quite popular abroad. Stoopwafels are a staple in coffee shops, speculaas kruiden is basically pumpkin spice, and the quintessentially American sweets like cookies (koekjes) and apple pie trace their roots straight back to the Netherlands.
And what about Groningen? What makes the city’s cuisine special? These iconic foods may not be super famous outside the province just yet, but they are beloved by the locals – and you can make them right at home thanks to recipes from Visit Groningen!
Eierball (egg ball)
This is the most iconic food ever to come out of Groningen. It’s a hard-boiled egg, covered in roux, then breaded and deep fried in oil. It’s comparable to the Scotch egg, but wrapped in a gravy-like sauce instead of ground sausage. Its origins trace back to the meagre post-war years in the north: eggs and bread crumbs were cheap, readily available and, most importantly, filling.
The traditional version uses chicken eggs, but a group of enterprising Groningen students took it upon themselves to fry the world’s largest egg ball by using an ostrich egg.
Eierbal: cultural heritage
Groningen’s affection for the egg ball runs deep - there’s a whole food festival dedicated to it, and this Christmas, you can spruce up your tree with your very own glitter-encrusted Eierbal ornament. In 2017, it was even declared part of the city’s intangible cultural heritage by UNESCO.
The concept of making soup from a condiment might seem a bit odd, but a warm bowl of this humble dish on a cold autumn day is just about the ultimate Groningen comfort food.
Groninger mustard: "plenty of oomph"
It’s all about the Groninger mustard, which also has very working class roots: mustard, which grows in the region, was a cheap way for people who couldn’t afford expensive spices to add flavour to their food.
The thing that sets Groningen’s mustard apart is its acidic bite due to plenty of vinegar and, most importantly, the coarsely ground mustard seeds “with plenty of oomph”. It uses black mustard (as opposed to yellow mustard and brown mustard) plants, which also contributes to its fiery flavour.
Abraham's Mustard Factory
There used to be dozens of mustard makers in the province of Groningen, but Abraham’s Mosterdmakkerij is one of only a couple that are still in operation. The factory also serves as a living museum to the condiment.
Groninger mustard is a special Groningen food on its own and is a spicy addition to many a bitterbal or block of cheese accompanied by a cold beer. But for a warming winter meal, it’s hard to beat mustard soup topped with fresh leeks, crispy bacon or other local specialties (like shrimp from the North Sea or drogeworst, another Groningen delicacy), served with a simple cheese sandwich on the side.
There are some misconceptions about this hearty, raisin-filled cake. Despite the similar name, this comforting dessert has no relation to the better known poffertje (tiny, fluffy pancake). And even though we’re including it in a post about real Groningen foods, it’s not exactly unique to the region. There is a name for it in the Gronings dialect – povverd – but very similar recipes can be found across the Netherlands and across the border in Germany.
Nevertheless, it has been adopted by the Groningers as a local goodie in recent decades: back in 2016, the town of Winsum held the first edition of Grunneger Poffertdag. And there is evidence that the province may have been one of the very first places to make a version of it. A recipe for a “boffert” is included in an 18th century cook book used at the Menkemaborg estate in Uithuizen.
No matter what you call it, you’ll need a special poffert pan (similar to a bundt pan, but it comes with a lid) to bake it at home. This filling treat really hits the spot on a chilly day, especially with a little bit of butter and a dab of appelstroop or a sprinkling of sugar.
Bonus Tip: Living Heritage Groningen
If you can speak at least a little bit of Dutch, visit the Living Heritage Groningen site to learn more about other foods and varieties of fruit (Kroon apples) and veg (Eigenheimer potatoes) unique to the Groningen region!
This is another dish that’s technically a dessert, but it’s not uncommon to enjoy a slice at any moment of the day. The basis is the recipe for Groninger koek, which isn’t overly sweet thanks to a mix of wheat and rye flour. Groninger koek can be combined with all kinds of sweet extras, like candied orange peel, ginger, raisins, local brandy, papaya or banana, but the nut cake version is especially satisfying.
Spice mix and plenty of crunch
There are two secrets to perfecting this recipe: the right spice mix, and going nuts with the nuts. The seasoning in this cake is similar to speculaas, with staples like cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and ginger, but coriander adds an extra kick. A generous helping of unsalted nuts, usually almonds, cashews, walnuts and Brazil nuts, cover the top and bottom of the cake, giving it a nice crunch.