So you’ve finally decided to treat yourself and your friends to the Grand Lux Cafe or someplace where they serve Caribbean food. You’ve always wanted to try Caribbean cuisine but the thing is, you don’t know where to start. Well, you’re in the right place.
Common Meats, Vegetables and Fruits
The ones you’re most probably going to find on the menu are tamarind, passion fruit, papaya, mango, breadfruit, yam, callaloo, ackee and okra. The most common meats are chicken, beef, pork and goat.
Common Spices and Seasonings
Caribbean meals use different types of seasonings such as cloves, vanilla, almond, turmeric, bay leaves, thyme, ginger, pimento, jalapenos, habaneros and Scotch bonnet. Many types of hot chili peppers are also used.
Meat Based Caribbean Meals
Most Caribbean meals with meat usually go like this.
- Callaloo – it is a callabo plant soup which is like spinach in a way. The soup includes crab, pork, chillies and okra.
- Mofongo – this is a well known Puerto Rico dish consisting of garlic, fried pork grinds and mashed plantains.
- Oxtail stew – this is an oxtail slow cooked with gravy.
- Meat curry – can be made with goat, lamb beef or chicken and is similar to Indian curries.
- Jerk pork / chicken – this a popular seasoning for meats. There are more than 20 types of seasonings mostly fragrant and spicy.
Fish Based Caribbean Meals
- Saltfish and ackee – this is the national dish of Jamaica and consists of dried fish. Ackee fruit is often served with the dish, a reddish fruit with yellowish edible fish.
- Coconut rundown – this is a sauce used for vegetable and meat dishes. It has a coconut, creamy flavor and used to temper the flavor of lime and ginger.
- Stamp and go – codfish fritters with a spicy taste
- Blaff – fish, usually snapper, is boiled and then marinated with spices, chili and limes. The dish is seasoned with herbs and rice is served with the meal.
- Escovitch fish – this dish is cooked with spices, onions and vinegar. The dish came to the Caribbean courtesy of Spanish Jews.
Vegetable Based Caribbean Meals
The most popular Caribbean vegetarian dish is pepperpot, a soup with vegetable soup and callaloo. In other regions the dish consists of vegetable stew and cassava juice. While there are variants, most use thick vegetable soup. You may also find ital, Rastafarian vegetarian dishes which don’t use salt.
Caribbean side dishes are plentiful, but the following should get you started.
- Dasheen – a boiled root that resembles root.
- Bammy – the bammy is cassava bread that’s been deep fried and served with fish.
- Roti – this a flat bread done Indian style.
- Cho cho – texture wise the cho cho is very much like a squash, but smaller and shaped like a pear.
- Peas and rice – this dish consists of cooked kidney beans and rice, lentils, black beans and black eyed peas. Green garden peas are not used.
- Boiled yam – this is a root that tastes like potato.
- Cassava – after being turned to flour, the root is cooked as a boiled or crisp bread. It is a common side dish.
- Plaintain – this side dish is either roasted or fried.
- Cassava pone – cassava pudding
- Bulla – it is a sugar cookie, brown and round
- Bun – this is bread with a spicy texture and taste
- Channa – thick peas with a spicy, crunchy texture
- Patties – a general term used for various baked goods. Fillings range from meat, vegetables to pastry.
- Ginger beer
- Pineapple punch
- Guinness punch
- Irish Moss – the beverage consists of a substances extracted off seaweed. It’s got a subtle taste.
Other Types of Caribbean Food
Caribbean cuisine is rich and varied. Here are some more treats you’ll want to try.
- Seafood – fresh shellfish, whitefish and grouper are excellent done Caribbean style
- Torta Cubanos – AKA Cuban sandwiches, it’s got a crisp crust with mozarella cheese, vinegary mustard, dill pickles, ham and roast pork.
- Guyanese Pepperpot – a thick stew with cornmeal dumplings, eggplant, potatoes, quash, okra and beef. It’s got a spicy taste and can be prepared in various ways.
- Conch – fried conch fritters are cooked in various ways like stew, soups and salads.
These are just examples. If you head over to any Caribbean restaurant you’re going to find a lot more. The same is true with the drinks as a diverse range of alcoholic and non alcoholic drinks are available.
If you’ve had your fill of Western meals and want to try something exotic, Caribbean is the way to go. The choices above should give you an idea, but there are lots more, so what are you waiting for?