Authentic and traditional Jamaican dishes arose out of necessity: locals and visiting workers used those products that were easier to get. The rich nature of the island made it possible to flavor everyday food with seasonings, bringing new notes of taste to it.
Description of Jamaican cuisine
What is now considered authentic Jamaican cuisine is a mixture of culinary traditions of different peoples, including the Arawak tribes, Africans, Europeans, Chinese and Indians. As they arrived in Jamaica, they brought their own cooking methods, recipes.
History of development: from antiquity to modernity
The Jamaican culinary tradition reflects a mix of cultures, races and religions dating back to the sixteenth century.
The main stages of its development:
- It all started with the Arawaks, or as they are called on the island, secretly. It is believed that the Indians never cooked on the water, but instead used coals. It is known that they secretly loved cassava, corn, fried fish and crabs.
- After the Arawaks came the Spaniards. They brought their love of condiments and spicy foods to the Jamaican table.
- British settlers enriched the local cuisine with salty and sweet puddings and other pastries.
- Asian workers brought the tradition of putting a lot of spices in local dishes, especially curries.
- African settlers introduced the islanders to making soups. Immigrants from the Black Continent became famous for drying pork.
- Chinese cuisine also remains popular in Jamaica, and can be found in many restaurants around the island.
- Another determining influence on the island food was exerted by the Arabs. Thanks to them, the locals have a tradition of cooking cakes and widely using legumes in the kitchen.
- A separate impact on the cuisine of Jamaica was exerted by The Rastafarians. They try to lead a healthy lifestyle without eating pork. Especially strict followers refuse other types of meat, and some cook without salt.
Features of the cuisine of Jamaica
The island food of Jamaica is famous for its richness of taste and a large number of spices. The basic principle of local residents is to use in food what you can always get. Most dishes are prepared on the basis of meat and generously flavored with seasonings.
Jamaican food is famous for its aromatic flavors, most of which come from various spices. The most commonly used condiments are ginger, nutmeg and allspice.
The waters surrounding the island impress tourists with the variety of seafood that is widely used in Jamaican cuisine. The most popular of these include lobster, shrimp, red perch, tuna and mackerel.
Aki is a red tropical fruit that opens when ripe, exposing the creamy yellow flesh. It is a national fruit that is considered dangerous because it emits toxic gases if it is opened by force when it is not yet ripe.
Jamaica’s tropical sunny weather allows fruit trees to grow easily. Thanks to this, fruits play a big role in the cuisine of the island. The most common of these are coconuts, guava, pineapple, mangoes, bananas, breadfruit, papaya and aki. All these fruits are eaten fresh and are often used in tropical desserts.
The poisonous Jamaican fruit is aki.
Popular cooking methods
Jamaican recipes have been developed over many centuries. The first to demonstrate special cooking techniques were secretly. Their method of harvesting meat on charcoals is used now. This food is now one of the trademarks of Jamaica.
The island also uses modern cooking methods such as boiling, frying, adding seasonings, drying, baking and frying.
Culinary traditions of Jamaica
Despite the fact that the culinary traditions of the island absorbed the experience of different cultures and peoples, they remained multifaceted. Even the famous Jamaican fried chicken, each island hostess cooks in her own way.
Jamaican chicken and rice with beans are everyday dishes of any islander. Desperate tourists who are not afraid to taste street food can purchase a bird cooked on a fire in a metal barrel.
Rice with red beans is served every day, only with white – on holidays. In local eateries you can buy traditional meat pies, with which the islanders were introduced by the British.
The majority of Jamaicans (more than 80%) are Christians, so the feasts are associated with religion. Christmas dinner is a special holiday. It includes traditional dried meat or curries made of chicken and goat meat, as well as rice with white beans, which on the island are persistently called “peas”.
The traditional Christmas drink is made from dried parts of sorrel (meadow plant), cinnamon, cloves, sugar, orange peel and rum and served with ice.
Preparations for the Christmas feast begin days and even months in advance (with baking, for example, traditional Jamaican black cake). To prepare it, fruits are soaked in bottles of rum for at least 2 weeks. After the cake is baked, it is left for 4 weeks to improve the taste.
On holidays, Jamaicans always cook dishes with chicken.
A popular local drink is “skyjus” – a mixture of fruit syrup and crushed ice, which is served directly in the nut. On the island, where a lot of fruits grow, all kinds of natural juices, smoothies, etc. are popular.
Traditionally, locals consume coffee, cocoa, black or green tea.
What you need to try in Jamaica
Many varieties of Caribbean food can only be tasted at local restaurants. Some of their ingredients simply can not be obtained anywhere in the world.
Aki with salted fish
Aki and salted cod are the national dish of Jamaica.
The aki fruit was brought to the island in the XVIII century. and grows well here, hanging pods from the tree. To eat it, you need to wait, because the unripe fruit is poisonous. It resembles a small walnut and opens when ripe, exposing the black seed inside. After opening, the pulp is extracted and cooked in the same way as scrambled eggs.
To the aki is added salted cod, which entered Jamaican cuisine during slavery. The fact is that it was profitable to salt the fish for the future. Slave traders fed this cheap food to their workers.
The dish is spicy, salty, so it is better to try it with fried bananas or vegetables.
Ackee and saltfish are eaten with fried bananas.
The visiting card of the island cuisine is the Jamaican chicken. Before cooking, the meat is rolled in a special mixture of spices, after which it is cooked in a special oven – jerk pan – in the form of a barrel on charcoal. The output is a chicken with an appetizing ruddy crust, the taste is something between smoked and grilled meat.
Stew with greens
The greens of the Kalau plant are used everywhere in the same way as spinach in the United States. In combination with stew, it is already a separate dish in itself. But this mixture is often used to make a traditional Jamaican spicy soup with meat and vegetables.
In the waters around the island there are a large number of fish, mainly sea bass snappers and sunfish. Any of these types is suitable for the dish escovich.
The fact is that the whole secret of cooking lies in a special method of marinating. The islanders call it escrowing.
The fish is soaked in vinegar, after which onions and special spices are added to it, giving the food a refreshing taste. The longer the blank is marinated, the tastier the treat will be.
This soup is served both at celebrations, wakes, and every day. The main ingredient of the dish is the head of a goat, to which spices, vegetables, and, if desired, noodles are added.
Pattis, or Jamaican pies, are found in any roadside café. They are prepared from a thin dough with the addition of filling – meat, fish, seafood, cheese or vegetables. They are considered local fast food.
The traditional flour dessert of Jamaica, which can successfully compete with European types of treats. The tartlet basket with butter, fresh coconut, ginger and nougat is sold literally everywhere – from restaurants and eateries to grocery stores.
Goat meat on the island has always been the most common type of meat. When Chinese and Indian workers came to Jamaica, they brought with them the tradition of cooking curries. Unleavened rice or fried banana cakes are served with the dish.
The meat is marinated in a large number of spices.
It is made from a plant of the same name. Despite the fact that chowder may seem simple, it is useful for digestion, rich and tasty. Because of the simplicity of preparation, kalalu soup can be found even in small eateries.
Sycamore is a relative of the banana. It is fried, adding salty seasonings and spices. There are also sweet varieties of sycamore chips – they are served with sugar or honey.
The national liquor in Jamaica is rum. It is drunk both in its pure form and in diluted cola or used in the preparation of cocktails. Wines on the island are imported, mainly from Chile, Argentina, the Usa or Spain.
Some Jamaican dishes can be prepared at home.
Beans with rice are the daily food of the islanders.
Ingredients (for 8-10 servings):
- 1 tbsp. canned red beans;
- 2 tbsp. rice;
- 1 tbsp. coconut milk;
- 4 tbsp. water;
- 1 finely chopped stem of fresh thyme (or 2 tsp dried);
- 2 tbsp. chopped green onions;
- 1/2 tbsp. chopped onion;
- hot pepper;
- salt and pepper.
- Cook, stirring, beans, water, coconut milk, thyme, green onions and simple onions over medium heat and bring the mass to a boil.
- Add salt and pepper to taste.
- Pour in the rice, cover and simmer over low heat for 25 minutes until the cereal is soft and absorbs the liquid.
- Check after 15 minutes for readiness and add water if necessary.
- Serve the dish warm.
Beans with rice for breakfast of the islanders.
Baked banana is a Jamaican dessert.
Ingredients (for 4-5) servings:
- 4 large ripe bananas;
- 1/4 tbsp. butter or margarine;
- 1-2 tbsp. l honey;
- 4 tbsp lime or orange juice;
- 1/2 tsp. allspice.
Stages of preparation:
- Preheat the oven to 100 ° C.
- Peel bananas and cut them longitudinally into 2 parts.
- Grease a shallow baking dish with a little butter or margarine. Place the bananas in a dish.
- In a bowl, combine the honey and lime or orange juice.
- Pour the mixture over banana slices and sprinkle with allspice.
- Top with drops of the remaining oil or margarine. Bake for 15-20 minutes.
- Serve the banana warm.
Jamaican Christmas cake is the main dessert on the island.
Ingredients (for 12-14 people):
- 11/2 tbsp flour;
- 2 packs of margarine or butter;
- 1 tbsp. sugar;
- 4 eggs;
- 1 tbsp. raisins;
- 1 tsp. cinnamon;
- 1/2 tsp. salt;
- 1/2 tbsp. cherries;
- 1 tbsp. chopped prunes;
- 1 tbsp. wine (or water);
- 1 tsp. baking powder;
- 1 tsp. vanilla;
- 1 lemon or finely grated lime zest;
- 2 tbsp brown sugar for glaze.
- Preheat the oven to 180 ° C and grease the thick-walled round baking dish with fat.
- To prepare the glaze, add 1/2 tbsp of water to the pan to the brown sugar and heat over medium or high heat until the sugar catches fire. Allow to cool.
- Beat the butter, sugar and the resulting glaze with a whisk until soft and fluffy.
- Add the eggs to the butter mixture. Pour in the wine or water and mix well. Pour in the fruit.
- Add the dry ingredients, stirring so that everything is well distributed. Do not beat when stirring. Pour the dough into a greased thick-walled round baking dish.
- Bake for 1.5 hours, checking after an hour. The cake is ready when it begins to separate from the walls of the mold.
This main dessert of the island can be smeared on top with cream or sprinkled with powder – to taste. As in Jamaica, the pie can be let infused. With the islanders, he waits for his fate for 4 weeks.