The following are the recipes most searched for by British Visitors to the Jamaicans.com website, which has a recipe database of over 400 authentic Jamaican dishes. The recipe collection is a valuable resource for those who are just learning about Jamaican cuisine, for those who love Jamaican flavors, and for Jamaicans in the Diaspora who want to replicate and enjoy some of the familiar foods of their island home.
1. Jamaican Fried Dumplings
Few foods are as tasty and enjoyable as a Jamaican Fried Dumpling. The recipe originated long ago when travelers took the dumplings with them on long voyages. In fact, they were first called “journey cakes.”
2. Jamaican Curry Chicken
A rich and spicy dish that is a favorite with locals. The dish traces its origins back to the East Indian people who were brought to the island by the British during colonial times. Over the centuries, it has evolved into the perfect combination of East Indian and Jamaican flavors. Some have called it the ultimate Caribbean comfort food.
3. Jamaican Boiled Flour Dumpling
No meal in Jamaica is complete without the addition of Boiled Flour Dumplings. The dumplings add heartiness to any meal and are relied on to round out a menu of authentic Jamaican foods.
4. Jamaican Fried Chicken
Jamaican fried chicken features a unique combination of seasonings that sets it apart from other fried chicken recipes. The authentic dish features a coating flavored with garlic powder, onion powder, cayenne pepper, thyme, and paprika. A definite crowd-pleaser.
5. Cornmeal Porridge
Cornmeal Porridge is a favorite dish for breakfast in Jamaica. An easy to make, creamy porridge that is often the first solid food given to babies. Many Jamaicans remember enjoying the porridge when they were children, and it has a distinct element of nostalgia associated with it. To make the porridge more substantial, hard bread is often broken up and added to the hot porridge.
6. Bully Beef
Bully beef is canned corned beef, and in Jamaica, it is favored for a quick and simple meal. Onions, tomatoes, and scotch bonnet peppers are added to the canned meat. Because it can be prepared so quickly and is a hearty and satisfying meal, Bully Beef is the go-to meal for many Jamaicans during hurricane season.
7. Peanut Punch
High in protein, Peanut Punch is popular as an energy drink in Jamaica. Some Jamaicans believe it to be an aphrodisiac. A staple among Jamaican street vendors who often have their own blend of “secret” ingredients to enhance its efficacy.
Festival is one of my favorite comfort foods. The Jamaican festival is a popular street food that is often eaten with escovitch fish. It features a wide variety of spices and seasonings, depending on the cook. The dough is a mix of cornmeal and all-purpose flour deep-fried in oil. As any foodie knows, anything from the deep fryer is automatically heavenly, so try my Simple Jamaican Festival Recipe with the traditional vanilla flavoring or a choice of your own.
9. Rum Punch
Rum punch is popular on the island at Christmas. As with many traditional recipes, Jamaican Rum Punch can be made in many ways, with the preferences of the individual chef taking precedence. The true Rum Punch originated in Jamaica, however, and on the island, its recipe describes “one of sour, two of sweet, three of strong and four of weak,” with reference to units of measurement – either cups or gallons. A strong version of the punch may include 1 cup of lime or lemon juice, 2 cups of strawberry-flavored syrup, 3 cups total of pineapple/orange juices, and 4 cups of Jamaican white rum.
10. Jamaican Goat Curry
Jamaican Goat Curry is so famous that the television network CNN produced a feature about it. Curry itself is not a single spice, but a combination of spices that vary according to the cook or the country. The word “curry” is thought to originate from mishearing an East Indian word “kari,” which referred to a spicy dish of meat and vegetables. For the Portuguese who colonized part of India, it meant a spiced stew that was served over rice. In the Caribbean, curry is found in the former British colonies and likely arose after the abolition of slavery when the British had to import indentured servants from India as workers to replace the formerly enslaved people. The goat curry of Jamaica features tender goat meat prepared with coconut milk, garlic, onions, allspice, thyme, tomatoes, turmeric, and scotch bonnet peppers.
11. Jamaican Rum Cake
This rum cake is a staple at Jamaican Christmas feasts. It is also called Jamaican Fruit Cake or Black Cake. It is a dense and flavorful cake that has been described as the “most alcoholic” dessert in the world, involving equal parts of port wine and white rum combined with a variety of dried fruits. Traditionally, it would have been soused with the port and rum over several months before serving, but most modern recipes recommend soaking the dry fruits in the liquors for two days prior to making the cake. It is typically served with a cup of sorrel.
12. Guinness Punch
Jamaica is a country that loves punch, and the beverage known as Guinness Punch is one of the most popular. Guinness Punch can be made in several ways, but the traditional recipe, brought to the island by the Irish, provides a smooth and creamy combination of bitterness, provided by the Guinness, and sweetness, which is provided by condensed milk. The liquids are flavored with vanilla, nutmeg, and cinnamon. This punch can be found throughout the Caribbean, with different countries making it just a little differently. Guinness Punch has been used as a tonic to enhance the vigor and energy of those who imbibe.
13. Jamaican Sweet Potato Pudding
Jamaican Sweet Potato Pudding is a favorite Sunday desert of Jamaicans and is also known as “hell a top, hell a bottom and hallelujah in the middle.’ This traditional dessert features the simplest of ingredients, but it takes skill to produce the authentic home-cooked flavor and texture that makes it so popular among islanders. Traditionally cooked over a wood fire, the pudding is made with coconut milk, sweet potatoes, brown sugar, vanilla, almond essence, rum, cornmeal, flour, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg. Unsweetened shredded coconut and raisins are optional additions.