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West Indian Cuisines

West Indian Cuisine

Food is a very important aspect of many family traditions and Caribbean culture. During holidays and other special events, it is not uncommon for people to spend many days preparing food. Caribbean dishes are often comprised of indigenous, European, American, Chinese, and African influences.

Local residents have also developed distinct dishes that are unique to the region.

Ingredients which are common in most islands' dishes are rice, plantains, beans, cassava, cilantro (coriander), bell peppers, chickpeas, tomatoes, sweet potatoes, coconut, and any of various meats that are locally available like beef, poultry, pork or fish. A characteristic seasoning for the region is a green herb and oil based marinade which imparts a flavour profile which is quintessentially Caribbean in character. Ingredients may include garlic, onions, scotch bonnet peppers, celery, green onions, and herbs like cilantro, marjoram, rosemary, tarragon and thyme. This green seasoning is used for a variety of dishes like curries, stews and roasted meats.

Jamaican Cuisine

Some Jamaican cuisine dishes are variations on the cuisines and cooking styles brought to the island from elsewhere. These are often modified to incorporate local produce. Others are novel and have developed locally. Popular Jamaican dishes include curry goat, fried dumplings, ackee and saltfish (cod) – the national dish of Jamaica – fried plantain, "jerk", steamed cabbage and "rice and peas" (pigeon peas or kidney beans). Jamaican cuisine has been adapted by African, Indian, British, French, Spanish, Chinese influences. Jamaican patties and various pastries and breads are also popular as well as fruit beverages and Jamaican rum.

Jamaican cuisine has spread with emigrations, especially during the 20th century, from the island to other nations as Jamaicans have sought economic opportunities in other areas. Below you will find some of the most common foods Jamaicans tend to prepare or eat.

Rice and Peas 

Every man, woman, boy, and girl on the island look forward to Rice and Peas Sunday treat every week…and if Sunday comes and it is not on the table, then it just does not feel right. Even the poorest of family on the island, will find ways to get this traditional Sunday meal on the table every week. 

Another sumptuous favourite among Jamaican foods! This one is so good that the government slapped the tag of national dish “pon” it.

Ackee & Salt/Codfish

A few pads of ackee, cooked with some well-seasoned saltfish…and you have the most delicious combination there is. Add that to some cooked or fried dumplings and the combination is complete.

The only thing left to do is enjoy!

Cooking it is not that hard either. All you need to do is follow a few simple steps and you are on your way to making one of the most delicious Jamaican meal on the planet.  

Jerk Chicken

This is one of those Jamaican foods that will set your mouth on some good fire! The flavour, the aroma, the taste, the heat…they are out of this world. I love “me” some jerk chicken! If you have never tasted it before, you are really missing something special!


Jamaican's eat this on the island just about everyday…mainly for lunch with a bottle of ‘soft drinks’ (soda) or some box drinks…along with a cocoa bread or two on the side.

…and it comes in all forms – spicy beef, chicken, and veggie…and they are all delicious. Even though it is mostly cooked at local restaurants, you can most certainly make your own…and still get the same delicious taste. 

Curry Chicken

Because the curry chicken stew, that’s what it is, is so common in Jamaica, most people eat this stew at least once a week. And, not surprisingly, the several different ways of preparing this delicious fare is not lacking. From house to house the varying flavours, stew-density, and aroma, makes it impossible to pinpoint any one preparation method to please the palate.


This is prepared in a variety of ways by Jamaicans. Jamaicans may prepare it as stir fry, shrimp,shrimp soup, jerk shrimp, curried shrimp just to name a few. this is one of the dishes that was taken from our Chinese heritage that most Jamaicans enjoy preparing today.

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