Jamaican Cuisine

Jamaican Cuisine contains cooking techniques, flavors, spices and influences from each of the many waves of immigration to the island. Today, dishes which grace nearly every Jamaican menu include curry goat, fried dumplings, ackee and salt fish (cod) (the national dish of Jamaica), fried plantain, "jerk", steamed cabbage and "rice and peas" (pigeon peas or kidney beans).

Assorted Jamaican Fruits

History of Jamaican Cuisine

Cuisine of the Tainos

Christopher Columbus visited Jamaica multiple times towards the end of the 15th century and the beginning of the 16th century, once even shipwrecked off the north coast for 2 years (1503-1504 ). During these visits he described a way the Arawaks (the indigenous inhabitants of Jamaica) preserved meat by adding peppers, allspice and sea salt to make what is now known as Jamaican jerk spice.

Development of the cuisine

The Spanish, the first European arrivals to the island contributed dishes such as the vinegary concoction [escovitched fish] [Spanish escabeche). Later, Spanish influences developed the Jamaican patty, an empanada styled turnover filled with spiced meat. African cuisine developed on the island as a result of waves of slavery introduced by the European powers. Chinese and East Indian influences can also be found in Jamaican cuisine, as a result of indentured labourers who replaced slaves after emancipation brought their own culinary talents (especially curry, which Jamaican chefs sometimes use to season goat meat for special occasions).

African cuisine, Indian cuisine and American cuisine, Chinese cuisine and British cuisine are not new to the island. Through many years of British colonialism the cuisine developed many habits of cooking particular to a trading colony. The natives of Jamaica drink the most tea per capita in the Caribbean to this day as a result.

Jerked Chicken with Rice & Peas

Popular Ingredients

§ Ackee
§ Cassava Plantain
§ Green Banana
§ Scotch bonnet (pepper)
§ Chayote (locally known as "chocho")
§ Taro (locally known as "dasheen" or "coco")
§ Pigeon peas (locally known as "gungo peas")
§ Allspice (locally known as "pimenta")
§ Ginger
§ Jamaican jerk spice
§ Callaloo
§ Escallion
§ Breadfruit
§ Yam (vegetable)
§ Garlic
§ Black Pepper
§ Dried and salted cod (locally known as "salt fish")
§ Salt beef
§ Thyme
§ Oxtail
§ Cow Feet
§ Salted Pig tail and ears
§ Coconut milk
§ Coconut
§ Guava
§ Soursop
§ Passion fruit
§ Sugar cane
§ Ketchup
§ Onion
§ Browning Sauce
§ sweet potato
§ Pumpkin
§ Annatto
§ Avocado (locally known as "pear")
§ Gungo pea
§ Kidney bean( locally known as “red peas”)
§ Roselle (plant) (locally known as "sorrel")
§ Tamarind
§ Acerola (locally known as "cherry")
§ Tahitian apple (locally known as "June plum")
§ Jackfruit
§ Pineapple
§ Malay apple (locally known as "apple" or "Otaheite apple")
§ Ripe banana
§ White cane vinegar

Popular Dishes

§ Ackee and saltfish
§ Jerk chicken - grilled Jerk-spiced chicken
§ Curry goat and Curried Mutton
§ Rice and peas - rice stewed with beans and coconut milk.

§ Jamaican beef, curry chicken patties
§ Jamaican spiced bun
§ Brown Stew Chicken, Brown Stew Beef
§ Red Peas Soup
§ Stewed Peas
§ Mannish Water ("Head of Goat Soup") - said to be an aphrodisiac, traditionally eaten at New Year's Eve
§ Escoveitch Fish
§ Coconut Rundown - spicy mackerel and coconut stew

§ Oxtail
§ Pepperpot Soup
§ Callaloo and Saltfish
§ Cabbage and Saltfish
§ Corned Beef and cabbage
§ Steamed Fish
§ Okra (also Okra and saltfish stew)
§ Pig foot
§ Cow foot and broad bean stew


The most popular Jamaican ice cream flavours are grapenut and rum & raisin.
Other popular desserts include potato pudding, gizzada (a small tart shell with sweet spiced coconut filling), toto (a small coconut cake), banana fritters, coconut drops, plantain tart. Dookoonu is a Ghanaian dish made with sweetened starch (usually cornmeal but can also be cassava) wrapped and boiled in a banana leaf. Also called "blue drawers'. Asham is ground or powdered sweetened parched corn.

Avocado Mousse with Wine Poached Cho Cho