Fruit Cooked in a Marquesan UmukaiFruit Cooked in a Marquesan Umukai
©Fruit Cooked in a Marquesan Umukai|G. Boissy Alesimedia

Enjoy an ahimā'a

The traditional Tahitian earth oven

A gastronomic affair

No gathering or festivity would be complete without the preparation of an ahimā’a, the traditional Tahitian earth oven, where the food, covered with leaves, is slowly braised or steamed in a pit of  heated stones. Simply delicious!


" In Rurutu, it’s called an umu'ai and for weddings, the whole population takes part in the preparation. "

It’s all in the cooking!

The secret of a traditional Tahitian oven is in…the cooking! And to do it well requires lots of patience. The day before the meal, a hole needs to be dug and filled with coconut husks and wood on which the stones are laid. The fire is lit and when the stones are hot enough, they’re covered with banana leaves on which the food is placed. The oven is then covered with jute mats and sand to sealit and the food is left to cook slowly for a few hours.

And what is cooked in such an oven? Well, just about anything you like! Chicken, pork, fish, breadfruit, taro, fē’i bananas, sweet potatoes,  po’e pudding… all of it carefully wrapped in banana leaves or placed in cooking pots. The opening of the oven is an event in itself, guaranteed to make your mouth water. Bon appétit!


Essential eating

Poulet fāfā (chicken in spinach sauce), suckling pig in coconut milk, po’e banana pudding and fara’oa...