Caribbean Food

Caribbean food is renowned around the world for its unique blend of flavors and spices. While the origins of most Caribbean recipes are attributed to other cultures introducing the basic elements or spices and produce to the islands, the reality is that once on the islands, the locals had to adapt their recipes to suit the local seafood, meat sources and vegetables available.

This adaptation led to the amazing popularity of Caribbean food for its unique mix of fresh foods and stunning blends of spices.

The Arawak Indians were among the earlier inhabitants of the islands and they perfected a cooking method that rose to become one of the most popular ways to cook anywhere in the world.

The Arawaks would use thin greenwood strips to create a cooking grate suspended over a bed of coals. They learned that cooking meat and fish on this grate would give the food a unique smoky flavor.

Since that time, the Caribbean islands have been a crossroads for many other cultural influences, from Europeans, Africans, Spanish, Indian and Chinese.

Jerk is perhaps one of the most recognized Caribbean foods and is made by slow cooking strips of pork or goat meat seasoned with a mix of spices. Traditionally jerk was cooked in a pit of hot coals lined with greenwood from the pimento tree to add a smoked flavor, but in more recent times it’s cooked in special smoking ovens to reach a similar flavor.

Even though jerk was traditionally made using pork or goat, more recently it’s also made using chicken, fish and even tofu.

Most Caribbean foods include okra, callaloo and ackee, although Chinese-introduced rice is a staple and often served as a side dish to many recipes. You’ll also find plenty of African-introduced ingredients in many Caribbean recipes, including cassava, yams and plantains.

While the ingredients look familiar to other cultures and regions from around the world, the unique blend of the diverse Caribbean culture and history has given their recipes a distinct taste that is immediately recognizable by most people.

Learning to cook traditional Caribbean recipes and foods is much easier than most people believe. The secret to a successful meal is learning and understanding how the spices react during different cooking styles and methods.

Caribbean Foods

Could it be the combination of African, Amerindian, French, East Indian, and Spanish styles of cooking? Yes, it could be a great possibilities. Why? If we are going to trace back the time, the islands have been fought over and owned by various European powers – mainly the British, French, and Spanish. All of these cultures, as well as their respective culinary traditions, have played a role in forming the multiple national cuisine of the Caribbean. Caribbean dining can be a feast of any number of signature dishes. Every traditional dish is rich with blend of spices that traditional Caribbean foods are famous for. Cuisines are mainly hot with the use of herbs and spices.

To name popular traditional dishes in Caribbean they are the following:

Jerk Chicken or Pork
Rice and Beans
Callaloo
Goat Water Stew
Cook – up or Pelau
Seafoods
Adobo
Sofrito

Mentioned foods above are frequently present in every Caribbean holidays, festivals and special family gatherings. Most of their foods are nutritious and always leaves an impression as one of the scrumptious dishes anyone could taste for. Food in the islands charms every tourist who visits the place. What makes it good among the people is that Caribbean recipes has influence other countries.

That is why many top chefs visit the place and experience the taste of Caribbean cuisines. In addition, the islands also offer finest restaurants that serves inexpensive foods and wines towards local residents and the visitors. Although it is difficult to generalize about Caribbean cuisine, it remains exquisite. Traditionally, Caribbean is very much unique among all cultures because of the diversity of the culture that influenced the people in Caribbean. In the end, you will know that Caribbean cuisine is food of the gods.

Delicious Caribbean Food Recipes

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Caribbean food recipes are very interesting to me because they are usually a blend of European, African and Asian ingredients. Caribbean food history is intricately linked to the slave trade, and as a result, many foods were transplanted to the Caribbean Islands for the African slaves. With time, slavery was abolished, and instead, indentured servants from India and China were transported to the Caribbeans for additional labor. The end result is that many traditional Caribbean foods have influences from countries all over the world.

A typical West Indian dish may include steamed fish with rice and beans. The side dishes may include callaloo, fritters, or breadfruit. Of course the fish comes from the warm waters of the Caribbean sea. However, the rice is originally from China, the red kidney beans are from South America, the callaloo is originally from west Africa, fritters are made with flour from the Middle East, and breadfruit is originally from the Pacific Islands.

“All about food…!”

Steamed fish
The main thing I like about traditional Cayman food is its freshness. When I have steamed fish at a local Kitchen, it has literally been caught that morning, lightly seasoned, and prepared to perfection. My husband and I were regulars at the Heritage Kitchen when we lived in West Bay. The food is delicious, but always in short supply. If you didn’t arrive just when the restaurant opened, you would likely not be able to order their fresh catch of the day. To prepare steamed fish, wash the fish in lime and then season it with salt and pepper to your taste. Heat coconut oil in a pan. Add the fish and cook it on both sides until it is golden brown. Add a sliced onion, a little water, and seasoning pepper. Cook on low heat for a few minutes until done.

Rice and Beans
Probably the first traditional Grand Cayman food I had was Rice and Beans. This is a dish that I originally tasted at one of the many local Grand Cayman restaurants and kitchens. Usually, Caribbean cooks like to play around with this dish until they make it their own creation. I’ve had it many different ways, but I think the best recipe is Rice and Beans – Cayman Style. To start, soak the beans overnight. Cook the beans until they are tender (about an hour). Drain the beans and save the bean water, it should be about 3 cups. You may need to add more water to get to 3 cups. In another pot, boil previously saved bean water, salt, black pepper, thyme, onion, and seasoning pepper. Add previously boiled beans and coconut milk and let everything come to a boil. Add the rice. Make sure there is about 1/2 inch of water over the rice and beans. When the pot starts to boil again, lower the heat and let it simmer for about 20 minutes or until all of the water is absorbed.

Breadfruit
This is a dish that I’ve only had in my home. My adventurous husband became curious about breadfruit and asked one of his Jamaican clients how to prepare it. It turned out to be very simple. First place the whole breadfruit in the oven for about an hour. This step is necessary so that you can easily cut the fruit. At this point you can eat the fruit by itself, soak it in butter, or eat it as a side dish to a meal. Another option, is to fry it up for just a couple of minutes on top of the stove. This is what we did the the result was scrumptious. After frying, it tastes a bit like potato, but with an interesting texture.

These traditional Caribbean food recipes are delicious and easy to make. If you use all fresh ingredients, then you are assured of a tasty Caribbean meal that you can easily make in your own home. If you are here visiting the Cayman Islands, I highly recommend one of the many local restaurants and Kitchens. Each one has its own specialty that will have you going back for more.

Why Caribbean Food Should Be Part of a Healthy Diet?

Thanks to internet retailers, buying Caribbean groceries online makes it easy to recreate the delicious cultural mix that makes island food so delicious.

Some people may have heard of the DASH diet (dietary approaches to stop hypertension), which is full of beans, fish, vegetables, and fruit. Fish is well known for it’s ability to protect against heart disease by providing a natural source of omega-3 fatty acids. Many Caribbean recipes such as escovitch, fritters and soup feature fish, which is abundant in island nations. Beans are another food with important health benefits- varieties such as gungo, kidney and blackeye have been shown to reduce blood pressure, lower cholesterol levels, and even lower blood sugar in diabetics. Caribbean recipes are also well known for the rich, spicy flavors that people love, but did you know that spicy food can actually improve your metabolism and suppress your appetite? Do a quick search for Caribbean food online and you will see that many dishes are spicy and feature fish, vegetables, and fruit that all offer numerous health benefits.

When shopping for Caribbean groceries, you will see that there are many places that offer fruits and vegetables in various forms that are made for use in Caribbean recipes. West Indian groceries are full of health benefits- for example, a single guava fruit is lower in calories than an apple but is packed with vitamin C, potassium, and fiber. Another fruit that you will run across when shopping for Caribbean groceries online is the mango.

Popular in a number of Caribbean recipes, mangoes provide vitamin A, iron, and calcium.

The history of Caribbean recipes is as diverse as the culture of these islands. The original tribes that inhabited the islands, the Arawaks and Carib, ate diets rich in locally caught fish, native fruits, and vegetables. When European travelers and slaves from West Africa reached the islands, they brought with them wheat, onions, garlic, beef, okra, callaloo, and mangoes, among other foods. When you read about Caribbean food online, you will see that it is made with strong influences from all of these cultures. The good thing for those hoping to try a Caribbean diet is that many West Indian groceries, can now be purchased online.

When you buy Caribbean groceries online, spices and sauces are the most important things to look for. You will want to look for curry powder, pimento, ginger, cinnamon, annatto, jerk sauce and flavorsome marinades. You will also want to read about Caribbean cooking techniques, which are a mixture of cultural influences just like the food.

Serene Murphys endeavours include hosting dinner parties for family and friends, cooking tasty Caribbean style summer BBQs, visiting vibrant markets, reading recipe books and travelling to sample the unique flavours of the continents.

Serene’s love of delicious Caribbean food has lead her to provide a “reggalicious” place where lovers of Caribbean food, can purchase a wide range of easy to cook Caribbean recipe kits.