An Overview of Jamaican Ital Food

An Overview of Jamaican Ital Food

An Overview of Jamaican Ital Food

Ital food is derived from the word “vital food”. Self-determination of the black race resulted in Rastafarian’s usage of the word ‘I” to replace the first letter of many words. Ital food means it is natural, pure, and clean food. For a Rastafarian, it means no salt, no chemicals, no flesh, no blood, no whites (called white blood), no alcohol, no cigarettes, and no drugs (herbs are not considered drugs).

Rastafarians avoid salt, oil, and meat. Their dietary laws are similar to the laws followed by Jews in Leviticus 11. Fish must be less than a foot long. No shellfish or fish without scales. Pork is especially condemned amongst Rastafarians. It is so important to not put the wrong thing in your body that some Rastafarians never cook in aluminum pots as it is said to leave traces of metal in the food that can get in your body. Cooking in a clay pot is popular among Rastafarians.

Rastafarians see their food as a way to be one with nature and also as medicine for the body, as it builds your “strucha” (Patois for the word structure). There are also strict hygienic laws that Rastafarians follow.

Below is an example of an Ital Food Recipe provided by forum member Tuff Gong :



  • 1lb 8ozs to 1lb 14ozs sweet potato (I used 1lb 14ozs in this Pudding)
  • 3 cups coconut milk
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • ½ tsp ground ginger
  • ½ tsp grated nutmeg
  • 1 ½tsp vanilla essence
  • 1 to 1 ¼4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 cups soaked raisins (I have mine soaked in Sherry for over 5 years now. I top it off with more Raisins, Prunes and Sherry every time it gets too low in the bottle.)
  • ½ – 1 cup flour (More or less flour will make it firmer or less so I used half a cup)
  • 5ozs Beet Root or Carrots (optional)


  1. Puree sweet potato and coconut milk in blender
  2. Pour mixture into a bowl
  3. Dice beet root
  4. Add all the ingreidents to the bowl. Mix and pour into a well greased 8″ or 10″ round tin
    (vegetable shortening to grease the tin)
  5. Bake at 350F for 1 ½ hours then 300F for 25 mins
  6. Remove from the oven immediately.
  7. Best eaten the next day or at least 5 hours after cooking.
  8. The pudding sets as it cools.

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