Jamaica is not just about amazing beaches, assorted fruits, reggae music, warm and friendly people. Add flavorsome Jamaican food to the list. Jamaica has a multicultural history. Little wonder that Jamaican food has traces of Spanish, English, Chinese and Indian flavors though the African flavor is predominant.
Jamaican food is healthy as it includes plenty of natural and unprocessed food. The cuisine includes a lot of fish; vegetables, and beans, meat is used minimally. Medicinal herbs like ginger, hot peppers, garlic and other spices are used extensively as seasonings.
Jamaicans used to cook their food outside their homes using charcoal stoves, thus Jamaican cooking was referred to as 'poor man's cooking'. Thought the cooking medium changed over time, the flavor of Jamaican food remains unaltered.
Exclusive Jamaican ingredients
Breadfruit: Ripe breadfruit is used to make punch, gizzada, patty, cake and wine. Breadfruit is consumed by either boiling it, steaming it with coconut milk or by roasting it. Breadfruit is ground and the flour is used to bake bread.
Pimento:Pimento is also called 'all spice'.
Callaloo: It is a leafy vegetable, steamed callaloo is served for breakfast, lunch or dinner. It is also used in soups and cooked with cod to impart a distinctive native flavor to these dishes.
Cassava:It is used extensively in Jamaican cooking and is used to make tapioca.
Scotch bonnet pepper: This pepper gives the Jamaican food a distinct flavor. To retain the original flavor of scotch bonnet pepper, use it without chopping it.
Cho-cho: Used extensively in soups and stew, it is also served as a vegetable.
Ackee:A type of seed pod, it is yellow in color and resembles scrambled eggs on cooking. It is either boiled or cooked with salt fish.
Coconut:Tender coconuts are used as a beverage; full-grown coconuts are used to extract oil. The crushed coconut white is used to make cakes and candy.
Popular Jamaican food:
Jamaica has numerous interesting recipes that have a trace of all the cultures that lived in Jamaica. Seafood is very popular in Jamaica. Among the various seafood recipes, salted cod is well-liked and is served with ackee - this dish is the national dish of Jamaica. Jamaican jerk is another delicious dish with a unique pungent and spicy flavor.
Jamaican breakfast items
- Callaloo and cod fish
- Ackee and salt fish
- Salt fish fritters
- Okra and salt fish
Jamaican breakfast side dishes
- Green banana
- Irish potato
Jamaican main course
- Jerk pork/chicken
- Chicken curry
- Meat loaf
- Curried goat
Jamaican main course side dish (also served as appetizers)
- Rice and peas
- Coco bread
- Gizzada (tart shell with sweet and spicy coconut filling)
- Potato pudding
- Toto (small coconut cake)
- Plantain tart
- Blue mountain coffee
- Coconut water
Jamaican cooking methods
Jerking: Any meat, vegetable or poultry is cooked in a unique technique called jerking. The meat, vegetable or poultry is flavored with spices and then grilled. The word jerk has its origin from the Spanish word 'charqui' which means jerked or dried. Jerking helped preserve meat for a longer period. Jerk sauce is prepared with allspice, pepper and sea salt.
Curry: Many Indian migrants who settled in Jamaica introduced curry in Jamaica. A variety of spices are used to cook goat curry, a famous Jamaican curry dish. Vegetables, poultry, seafood or meat is used in curries.
Food is also cooked by boiling, roasting, baking, frying, and drying them.
Secret of Jamaican cooking
- Add spices to boiling water and cook on low heat for a stipulated period of time. The spices have to be added at the right time and have to be cooked perfectly.
- Jamaican food tasted its best when it was cooked over charcoal stoves. Thus choose the right temperature to derive the best flavor from Jamaican food.
- Use oil as required, Jamaican recipes usually do not use much oil.
Cassava (sweet) grated
Place grated cassava in a muslin cloth and squeeze off its juice as much as you can. Add salt. Separate this mixture into parts, each part should measure one cup. Roll it into thick discs. Grease a frying pan and cook bammies until done. Soak the fried discs in coconut milk and fry again in the frying pan until they turn golden brown.
Ackee and salt fish – Jamaican national dish
Salt fish ½ pound
Ackee 1 can
Soak the salt fish in cold water overnight. Drain the water and use fresh water to cook the salt fish. Cook until tender. Remove the bones and peel the salt fish. Drain the ackee. Heat oil in a pan and add onion, ackee and the salt fish to the pan. Cook for ten minutes in low heat. Sprinkle black pepper and serve.
A tasty Succulent grilled Chicken recipe from Jamaica
Finely chopped garlic
Allspice 2 tbsp, ground
Finely chopped onions
Ground ginger 2 tsp
Ground ginger cinnamon 2 tsp
Ground nutmeg 2 tsp
Ground black pepper 2 tsp
Soy sauce ½ cup
Olive oil ½ cup
White vinegar 1 cup
Orange juice 1 cup
Lime juice of one lemon
Chop onions, garlic, and scotch bonnet pepper. Blend all the ingredients (except chicken) to prepare jerk sauce. Cut chicken into four pieces. Take a portion of the sauce and smear it on the chicken. Allow the chicken to soak in this sauce overnight and refrigerate until morning. Grill the chicken as you repeatedly dip it in the balance sauce; turning the meat frequently while grilling. Cut the grilled chicken into pieces (size the pieces as per your choice). Serve with salad or rice and peas, along with the balance jerk sauce.