Nestled within Northern Ireland’s bountiful green fields are the ingredients for a unique and distinctive cuisine.
If local food reflects the culture from whence it came, then Northern Irish dishes truly reflect the environment in which they were created.
From the classic institution of Irish stew to the beloved Ulster Fry, culinary lovers will delight in discovering the region’s treasures that will sizzle their taste buds:
This is a hugely popular dish in Northern Ireland, apart from just being an affable nickname. Typically made with potatoes, milk, butter, and scallions. While markedly similar to another dish, colcannon, which utilises cabbage instead of scallions, Ulster is the only province of Ireland where champ is the more popular option. In decades past, it was customary to make champ with the first new potatoes that were harvested. It’s best served alongside a meat dish such as pork, venison, or beef. Photo: Christopher Previte on Unsplash
This bread dish, sweetened with cinnamon and dried mixed raisins and sultanas, is steeped in old Irish traditions. Usually sold in flattened rounds, it is often served toasted with butter alongside a traditional cup of tea. Around Halloween slices would be stuffed with various objects to be used as a game to tell fortunes by receiving a slice that contained one of numerous items, including a pea, stick, cloth, coin, ring, or bean. For example, a pea meant that you would not marry that year, a cloth would mean a run of bad luck, and a coin signified impending wealth. The dish was also a popular New Year option; as night fell, the family would take three bites out of the cake and throw it against the door to ward off poverty. Photo: Tourism NI
No Northern Irish childhood would have been complete without this sweet treat. This traybake is made from ground-up digestive biscuits, glace cherries, marshmallows - 15 of each - combined with glazed milk and dried coconut. Rarely found outside Northern Ireland and County Donegal, this delight can be easily found in most shops and bakeries. They’re so popular that you can even find them in Starbucks. Photo: Tourism NI / Mary Anne Mackle
4. Yellow man
Not too dissimilar to honeycomb, don’t be surprised if you haven’t heard of this delicacy. It is rarely found outside of traditional festivals, most notably the Ould Lammas Fair, held at the end of August each year in the north coast town of Ballycastle. While visually very similar to toffee, the more solid ‘rind’ contains at least half of the quantity. Uniquely, yellowman must be heated to 300 degrees Fahrenheit for boiled sugar to become brittle when cooled. The sweet was immortalised outside of Ballycastle by John Henry MacAuley, who wrote a ballad praising the lush ‘dulse and yellow man / At the Ould Lammas Fair in Ballycastle-O.’ Pictured here are the Mayor of Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council Steven Callaghan and Deputy Mayor Margaret Ann McKillop enjoying some yellow man at the 2023 Lammas Fair. Photo: Kevin McAuley / McAuley Multimedia