14 Must Have Jamaican Cuisines

jamaican cuisine

When traveling to different countries you can’t truly say you’ve experienced that place without trying the local foods. Jamaica is one of those countries where the food will send your taste buds on a wild journey. When visiting Jamaica there are some must-have cuisines that you can’t leave the island without trying. There are so many different foods to try that it may become a little overwhelming at times. These cuisines can be eaten any time of the day and are interchangeable between breakfast, lunch and even dinner.

Dishes

Ackee and Saltfish

Jamaican cuisine ackee and saltfishJamaican Ackee and Saltfish

Jamaica’s national dish is Ackee and Saltfish (codfish), and everyone generally prepares the dish the same way. Ackee originally came to Jamaica from Ghana in the early 1700s. The ackee is first boiled and depending on the style of the chef, the salt fish is also boiled or soaked to reduce its saltiness. Both are then combined and cooked with onions, tomatoes, sweet peppers, and other different herbs and spices. It is usually served with boiled or fried dumplings, cooked yam and green bananas, or breadfruit.

Jerk Chicken

Jamaican cuisine jerk chickenJamaican Jerk Chicken

Ask anyone in the world that’s somewhat familiar with Jamaica to name one popular food from Jamaica, the answer will almost always be, Jerk Chicken. Traditionally, jerk chicken is prepared smoked on a grill with pimento wood/seed, and is prepared by locals on the roadside stalls and even in five-star restaurants. What normally gives the Jerk Chicken it’s tasty flavor are the different sauces that the chicken is marinated in. These sauces range from mild to extremely spicy. It is a dish that can be eaten with bread, rice or even festivals.

Curry Chicken/Goat

jamaican cuisine curry chicken

Jamaican Curry Chicken

Jamaican Curry Goat

Curry spices originated from the southern parts of India. In Jamaica, curry is usually used to season chicken or goat meat but it is also used on other meat types. The chicken or goat is seasoned with a variety of spices including curry and after the spices have marinated, the next step is burning the curry. What this entails is heating the oil with the curry powder until the color starts to change, at that point the meat is added to the pot to cook. Burning the curry is not a must, however, some locals do it to for persons with a sensitive stomach. The meat is then slowly cooked until tendered. It is popularly served with rice but you can eat with a side of your choice

Callaloo

Jamaican cuisine callaloo dishJamaican Callaloo and SaltFish

Callaloo is a dish made from leaf vegetables known as Xanthosoma, taro or amaranth (commonly amaranth, taro or xanthosomo. It can be mistaken for Spinach, it can be prepared by itself or Saltfish(Codfish) can be used to complement the vegetable.

Escovitch Fish

Jamaican cuisine escovitch fishJamaican Escovitch Fish

This dish is eaten all year round but more so around Easter time. It is said that this dish originated from Spanish Jewish settlers. The way this is usually prepared is a whole fried fish is covered in vegetables, which may include scotch bonnet peppers, carrots, pimentos, onion, and chayote. It is a known fact that if you eat it a day later after it is made it is even tastier because the vegetables had more time to marinate in the fish.

Oxtail

Jamaican cuisine oxtailJamaican Oxtail Meal with Rice and Peas

Oxtail is rich in flavor, the meat, of course, is seasoned before-hand and this dish is cooked in a pressure cooker which can significantly cut down the cooking time. It is cooked until the desired softness is achieved which is about 20-35 minutes. Then it is cooked for an additional time until meat has a dark brown color and the sauce is thick. Some patience is required to cook this delectable meal, and of course, it is popularly served with rice and peas.

Stew Peas

Jamaican cuisine stewed peasJamaican Stewed Peas with White Rice

This dish can be cooked with a variety of meats, meats that include beef and pigtails are common for the stew and sometimes the stew is had without meat. Red kidney beans are necessary for this dish and are boiled until slightly cooked. The meat is then added and the pot seasoned until its desired saucy taste is achieved. Some cooks may add coconut milk to give it extra flavor, and tiny flour rolls which are called “spinners” that seem to bring something indescribably delicious to this dish. It is most commonly served with white rice.

Beef patty and Coco bread

Jamaican cuisine beef patty and coco breadJamaica Beef Patty and Coco Bread

There is nothing like a Jamaican Beef patty that is paired with Coco Bread. There are many other options instead of beef but that it the most popular and common patty there is. The different filling ranges from chicken, shrimp, lobster, callaloo, fish and also veggie. There are two well-known establishments that are said to have the best patties you’ll ever try and they are Tastees and Juici beef.

Sides

Rice and Peas

Jamaican cuisine rice and peasJamaican Rice and Peas

Rice and Peas is a popular side dish that can be served with almost anything. The peas are usually red kidney beans that are common in the United States of America, however other peas types can be used. Jamaicans prepare rice and peas by combining the rice with the peas in a mixture of water milk, water and other season types such as tyme, escallion, and scotch bonnet pepper. The mixture is measured to the proportion of cooking the rice and peas. If the proportion is off then the rice and peas will not cook properly.

Bammy

Jamaican cuisine bammyJamaican Bammy

Bammy is a delicious flat bread made from cassava also known as Yuca. Bammy’s amazing taste comes from soaking it in coconut milk and then frying it. bammy is usually served with escovitch fish.

Festival

Jamaican cuisine festivalJamaican Festival

Similar to a dumpling but in more of a cylindrical shape. The base composes of cornmeal, sugar, flour, spices, milk, water that is fried until golden brown. Festivals can complement almost anything and served alongside jerk meats to fried fish.

Breadfruit

Jamaican cuisine breadfruitJamaican Breadfruit

Breadfruit is another fruit that is prepared in multiple ways. You can have it cooked, roasted, fried, and even baked. I absolutely love it roasted then fried with a little salt, served with ackee and saltfish. It can be eaten with saltfish and ackee, chicken or callaloo.

Soups

Red Peas Soup

Jamaican cuisine red peas soupJamaican Red Reas Soup

This is made with most of the same ingredients as other soups with the exception of the high dosage of red kidney beans which give the dish its unique flavor and color. Majority of cooks include a small addition of pigtails or stew beef, however, that is up to the discretion of the cook.

Mannish Water

Jamaican cuisine mannish waterJamaican Mannish Water

This has to be the favorite soup of all time for locals, it is made from goat and the actual contents you may not want to know but it’s so very delicious.

Wow! That’s a lot of food. We know you like at least one of the Jamaican meals mentioned, or you may like one not mentioned here. In any case, we would love to hear about it in the comments below.

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