Amsterdam is a bright city, and it isn’t just its iconic housing along the canals or delightful stroopwafels.
Amsterdam is home to over 180 nationalities making it a cultural melting pot despite its low population (still under one million!). The influence of Amsterdam’s cultural diversity is evident, especially in district, Indische Buurt.
To see some of the extent of Amsterdam’s cultural mix, get outside the main hub of town and walk around Indische Buurt, located in Amsterdam Oost (East).
At the heart of Indische Buurt is the popular bar and restaurant strip Javastraat, sandwiched between Amsterdam’s first public park Oosterpark and Flevopark (home to an old Jewish cemetery, closed to the public). It is a prime (and great) example of the district’s ethnic mash-up. Like with many districts of Amsterdam, Indische Buurt is having its metamorphosis moment with the emergence of trendy cafes (hello Bar Basquait) and bars (looking at you The Walter Woodbury Bar) alongside long-standing multicultural shop-fronts.
This hip and happening boulevard host many community events throughout the year including cultural celebrations and food festivals, which allows residents and adventurous tourists a taste of a world kitchen beyond the Dutch fry up.
Multiculturalism in Amsterdam
Remaining at the core of this area is the unique fusion of Middle Eastern, Surinamese, Moroccan and Turkish influences reflecting the demographics of residents in the area.
Forget even trying to have a low carb diet when you walk through this area; you will be smacked with smells of freshly prepared baked goods wafting from one of the many Turkish bakeries. Despite being in Amsterdam and being tempted with stroopwafels and pancakes alike, snack on Turkish pizza or get your hands around a Simit (Turkish pretzel) instead – both amounting to lose change.
This area is also home to many international convenience stalls that also stock a variety of fresh produce and foodstuffs from the Middle East and beyond. The exotic colours are not just for the taste buds as Javastraat is also home to Moroccan dressmakers shimmering up shop-fronts with their unique accessories.
Indische Buurt, aptly named after former Dutch colony, Dutch East Indies (now Indonesia) is a place you can easily lose yourself in – especially for its many foreign family-run eateries bringing their cultural flavours to the tables of Amsterdam.
This is especially the case for the no-thrills takeout Roopram Roti. Showcasing the best of Suriname cuisines, it draws a local crowd most nights for its hearty, home-cooked curries. Suriname itself is a former Dutch colony, with influences as far-reaching as China, Africa and Indonesia as well as the Caribbean, so you could only imagine what a food adventure you will have!
Want more Dutchie delights in your life?
It is hard not to bypass the Dappermarkt and if you did – go back!
Located on Dapperstraat, this market is a smaller version Albert Cyup market. This vivid and vivacious global street market is immensely popular with locals due to its’ variety of clothes, wares, trinkets and foodstuffs on offer at reasonably low prices.
From Turkish tapenades to Greek Dolmatas to flavours of the Far East, this market offers a glimpse the influences of its cultural diversity at play. Closer to home, the tastes of Dutch cuisine are ever so prominent with cheeses, stroopwafels, broodjes (sandwiches) and freshly cooked up fish snacks on offer – my ‘catch of the day’ is kibbeling (small bits of deep-fried fish) with mayonnaise garlic sauce. I may as go far to say that this is home to the best kibbeling I have ever had in my life – big call I know!
Please note: Dappermarkt is open from Monday through to Saturday from 9 am to 5 pm.
The park itself is a great place to cycle around and recoup from exploring Indische Buurt. Come summertime; this park is packed full of locals setting up picnics.
Amsterdam’s Jewish Quarter
To understand the influences of Amsterdam’s diverse culture, one must look into its past and how Amsterdam is helping to shape the future for some of its new residents. A short stroll away (or bike ride I should say) from Dapperstraat is Amsterdam’s former Jewish Quarter which gives off no hint of its previous occupation.
Ondertussen (translated to Meanwhile) is a collective of artists and creative types which supports newcomers to Amsterdam, particularly those coming from war-torn countries and with a refugee background. The organisation’s aim is to bridge the gap between people of all ethnic backgrounds and organisations and allow people to come together to share their entrepreneurial and artistic skill set. Located above the National Holocaust Museum, the building itself has a remarkable history as a former Jewish Daycare centre turn haven for hundreds of children during World War II.