The Caribbean is an indisputably beautiful and popular destination. A dynamic history of migration and colonisation has made it a melting pot of various peoples and cultures, and this is best reflected in these Caribbean dishes.
The region’s unique flavours and textures contribute to the many varied yet delicious Caribbean dishes. It uses a wide range of ingredients grown on the islands and well as truly amazing combinations of spices, herbs and seasonings that make for some mouth-watering and filling foods.
Here Are Some Of The Tastiest Foods From The Caribbean
1. Ackee And Saltfish From Jamaica
The national dish of Jamaica is made up of ackee (the national fruit of Jamaica), and saltfish, a dried and salted version of cod. The soft and slightly sweet texture of the cooked ackee perfectly complements the salty taste of codfish, especially when seasoned with spices and onions. It’s possibly one of the most iconic Caribbean dishes.
2. The Famous Jamaican Jerk Chicken
Another famous Jamaican dish is jerk chicken, where meat is dry-rubbed or wet marinated with a hot spice mixture called Jamaican jerk spice. This is made with a mixture of a range of fiery peppers and spices such as Scotch bonnets, nutmeg and pimentos. The meat is then roasted or barbecued creating an intense flavour and succulent texture.
3. Deliciously Sweet Coconut Drops
These scrumptious snacks from Jamaica are made with small chunks of the white fleshy part of the coconut, mixed with a sprinkling of sugar and ginger. This is then boiled and cooled on a banana leaf or on a wet cookie sheet. It’s the perfect accompaniment to a cup of afternoon tea
4. Goat Water From Montserrat
One of the most delicious foods in the Caribbean is goat water, which is an integral component of the national dish of Montserrat. Don’t let the name put you off; goat water is actually a goat stew that’s made with goat meat flavoured with spices, vegetables, onion, tomato, and then served with rice or bread. This hearty mainstay is a staple at family celebrations like weddings and funerals.
5. Try Trinidad And Tobago’s Delicious Combination Of Crab And Callaloo
Trinidad and Tobago is famous for its Creole cuisine, and one of the most popular dishes to try is crab and callaloo. Callaloo is a locally sourced leafy green that’s similar to spinach. It’s often steamed and cooked with coconut milk, spices, chillies, and sometimes additions like okra, saltfish, mackerel, or scallions, and then topped with crab.
6. Have Some Steamed Conkies From Barbados
Conkies are a traditional Bajan dish, and a filling, sweet snack. Cornmeal is mixed with coconut, sugar, sweet potato, pumpkin and raisins and then cooked by steaming in banana leaves. This Caribbean food was originally prepared on Guy Fawkes Day but is now also popular during Barbados’ Independence Day celebrations.
7. Don’t Miss Saltfish Fritters, A Jamaican Breakfast Staple
A popular breakfast dish, these small fishcakes are made by coating soaked and dried saltfish in flour, adding in onion, garlic, and peppers, and then frying until golden brown and crispy on the outside but soft and flaky on the inside. They’re also a wonderful pre-dinner snack when served with a chilli pepper dipping sauce
You can also find a sweet version of this Caribbean dish, known as ‘bakes’ in Barbados.
8. The Quintessential West Indian Food – Rice And Peas
One of Jamaica’s most popular dishes, this is a blend of rice and savoury pigeon peas. It’s made from rice cooked boiled with coconut milk and soft red beans (either “gungo” peas i.e. pigeon peas, or “red peas” i.e. kidney beans, can be used). Various seasonings are stirred into the mix, and it’s served as a side to fried fish, chicken, pork, or beef stew.
9. For More Sweet Treats Try Sweet Potato Or Cassava Pone
Pone is a kind of pudding that’s made with sweet potato, cassava flour, or cornmeal, which is mixed with sugar, spices, and coconut and baked into a custard-like consistency. This Caribbean dish is slightly sweet but not overwhelmingly so, like many other baked Bajan dishes.
10. Flying Fish And Cou Cou From Barbados
It’s often considered the national dish of Barbados. The unique-looking flying fish is a staple food of the island that can be fried, steamed, baked, or stewed and combined with a mixture of herbs and seasonings like onions, thyme and tomato to enhance the flavour. The dish is then consumed with cou-cou an accompaniment similar to polenta that’s made with cornmeal and okra and served with gravy.
11. Have Some Escovitch Fish And Bammy From Jamaica
One of the oldest Jamaican dishes, escovitch comes from the Spanish word escabeche, which means marinated. It refers to the method of marinating lightly fried fish in a spicy sauce of vinegar boiled with onions, choco (a native vegetable), carrots, hot peppers, and pimento. This is then served with bammy, a flat, round bread made of cassava flour that’s said to have originated with the Arawak Indians, who were the first inhabitants of Jamaica.
12. For More Sugary Goodness Have The Jamaican Grater Cake
This Jamaican dessert is also known as “sugar cake”, and “pink on top”. It’s made of grated coconut and sugar (sometimes flavoured with ginger) which are boiled and spread onto a baking sheet to harden and then cut into triangles or squares. It is sweet, rich and creamy all at the same time.
Fun fact: While refined, or white sugar, is now often used, back in the day it was made with “wet” or unrefined brown sugar.
Also Read: 13 Fun Facts About The Caribbean
Which Of These Delicious Caribbean Dishes Will You Be Trying First?
Of course, there are hundreds of other dishes to try in the Caribbean, from fried plantains to the hibiscus drink sorrel. The incredible and varied cuisine on offer across the region is a feast for the senses.