Caribbean food is a fusion of African, East Indian, European, and Asian cuisines. The region’s rich history and diversity of cultures have resulted in a unique culinary style. Some of the most popular Caribbean dishes include jerk chicken, curry goat, rice with peas, stewed oxtail, and roti. These, often spicy and flavorful recipes can be enjoyed with a cold beer or rum punch. In this article, we’ll explore Caribbean cuisine—what makes it unique, and how you can make some of the most popular dishes at home.
What Is Caribbean Cuisine?
Historically, the Caribbean has been a melting pot of cultures, with each island nation developing its unique take on the region’s food.
From the tasty jerk chicken of Jamaica to the flavorful curries of Trinidad, there is no shortage of delicious dishes to be found in the Caribbean. Caribbean cuisine is often characterized by its use of fresh ingredients, bold flavors, and a healthy dose of spice.
What Ingredients Are In Caribbean Food?
The ingredients used in Caribbean cuisine vary depending on the dish. However, some of the most common ingredients used in this type of cooking include:
- Jerk seasoning: A spice blend that typically includes allspice, thyme, and chili pepper. This seasoning is used to flavor jerk chicken and other meats.
- Curry powder: A combination of spices, including turmeric, cumin, chili pepper, and fenugreek. Curry powder is used to flavor many Caribbean dishes, such as curry chicken and goat.
- Rice: White or brown rice is typically used.
- Beans: Red kidney beans, black beans, and lentils are commonly used in Caribbean cuisine.
- Coconut milk: Used to add creaminess to curries and other dishes.
- Rum: A popular alcoholic beverage in the Caribbean that is often used in cooking.
- Plantain: A starchy fruit that is similar to a banana. Plantains are often either fried or boiled and then used as a side dish.
These are just a few of the many ingredients used in Caribbean cuisine. When it comes to cooking this type of food, the sky’s the limit!
Caribbean Food Recipes
Simple Coconut & Bean Soup (5)
You can have this simple bean recipe for either lunch or dinner. This bean soup goes well with any rice dish.
- 1 tbsp sunflower oil
- ½ bunch of spring onions, whites, and greens separated and sliced
- 1 red pepper, diced
- 1 scotch bonnet chili, deseeded and pounded to a paste
- 1 garlic clove, chopped
- 1 tsp dried thyme
- 1 tsp medium curry powder
- 1 tsp allspice
- 3 plum tomatoes, chopped
- 1 vegetable stock cube
- 410g can kidney bean, rinsed and drained
- 410g can pinto bean, rinsed and drained
- 410g can black-eyed bean, rinsed and drained
- 2 x cans of coconut milk
- Juice 2 limes
- Heat the oil in a large cooking pot. Add in the onion whites, chili, pepper paste, and garlic and cook for 5 to 8 minutes until soft.
- Add the thyme, curry powder, and spices and cook for another minute.
- Stir in the tomatoes and cook for 2 minutes until they are slightly softened.
- Crumble the stock cube then add the beans and coconut milk. Simmer for 10 minutes.
- Turn off the heat and stir some of the spring onion greens and some seasoning.
- Serve in bowls then scatter the remaining spring onion greens before serving.
Nutritional info: 581 calories, 45g carbs, 19g protein, 38g fat, 11g fiber, 3.19g sodium, 14g sugars
Read More: Keto French Toast Recipe – Low Carb And Healthy Breakfast Idea
Fry Bodi (Caribbean Green Beans) (3)
This recipe makes for a healthy side dish. And it takes just 25 minutes to prepare.
- Glug of vegetable oil
- 1 very ripe small tomato, finely chopped
- ¼ onion, finely chopped
- 1 garlic clove, crushed
- 200g pack green beans, trimmed
- Heat the oil in a small saucepan over medium heat.
- Add the tomato and onion with a pinch of salt. Cook for about 5 minutes to soften while stirring often.
- Add the garlic, stir and cook for an additional 30 seconds.
- Add the green beans, cover, and cook for about 10 minutes, until the beans are tender. Stir occasionally.
- Season to taste then serve.
Nutritional info: 88 calories, 6g carbs, 3g protein, 5g fat, 4g fiber, 0.3g sodium, 4g sugars
Caribbean Beef Patties (1)
If you are a meat lover then you will love these beef patties. You can have them for lunch or dinner but remember to watch out for the calories if you are on a diet.
- Drizzle of oil
- 1 small onion, finely chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, crushed
- 250g beef mince
- 1 potato, cut into 1cm/0.5in cubes
- 2 tsp turmeric
- 2 tbsp tomato purée
- few thyme sprigs
- 2 tbsp hot pepper sauce
- 500g block shortcrust pastry
- 1 egg, beaten
- green salad, to serve
- Heat the oil in a large saucepan, add the onion and cook for 5 minutes.
- Add in the garlic and beef. Turn up the heat and cook until the meat is browned. Then add the potato, thyme, puree, half the turmeric, and 200 ml water.
- Cover and simmer for 15 minutes then take off the lid and cook for another 5 minutes.
- Add the hot pepper sauce and let it cool.
- Heat the oven to 220 degrees Celsius. Roll out the pastry to the thickness of a coin.
- Cut out 6 x 15 cm circles. You can use a small plate as a guide.
- Divide the mince between the circles, putting it on one side.
- Mix the egg with the remaining turmeric. Brush around the edge of every circle, then fold over and use a fork to seal the edges.
- Line a baking tray with parchment paper then arrange the circles on the tray. Brush with a little more egg.
- Bake for 20 to 25 minutes. Serve with a salad.
Nutritional info: 780 calories, 63g carbs, 23g protein, 48g fat, 4g fiber, 3g sugars, 2g salt
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Vegan Caribbean Food Recipes
Here are vegan recipes you can try.
Caribbean Quinoa And Bean Bowl (2)
Try this for lunch or dinner with your favorite rice or vegetable dish.
- 2-4 tablespoons Canola or cooking oil
- 2 garlic cloves minced
- ½ medium onion diced
- 2 small bay leaves
- 1 sprig of fresh thyme or 1 teaspoon of dried thyme
- 1 ½ cup quinoa
- 1 cup lite coconut milk
- 1 ½ cups chicken broth or water
- 15.5 oz. can red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
- 1 whole scotch bonnet pepper or cayenne pepper ¼ teaspoons
- 1 teaspoons paprika
- 1 teaspoon chicken bouillon (optional)
- Salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
- Wash the quinoa and drain the water.
- Heat the oil in a large saucepan. Add the onions, garlic, paprika, bay leaves, thyme, and hot pepper. Sauté for a minute.
- Add the quinoa and keep stirring for about 2 minutes.
- Add the beans, coconut milk, and bouillon pepper with water and salt.
- Bring to a boil then reduce the heat. Simmer for another 20 minutes until the quinoa is cooked.
- Taste and adjust for salt and pepper if necessary. Discard the bay leaves.
- Serve warm.
Nutritional info: 85 calories, 36g carbs, 9g protein, 11g fat, 6g fiber, 2g sugars, 251mg sodium
Read More: Crispy Tofu Recipes That’ll Make You Love This Plant-Based Protein
Roast Jerk Plantains (4)
Plantains are an all-time favorite. But instead of boiling them, try baking them like in this recipe.
- 2-3 Plantains
- Jerk seasoning (adjust according to preference)
- Oil for drizzling
- ¼ cup oil
- ½ medium onion
- 1 Bell pepper green or red
- Cut both ends of the plantain. Peel the plantains by slitting a shallow line down the long seam and pulling it back. If the plantains are straight from the fridge, you can put them in hot water to help with the peeling.
- Cut in half lengthways then cut further into desired strips.
- Line a baking tray with parchment paper and place the plantains in a single layer.
- Bake in a 425-degree oven for 20 minutes or until slightly brown, turning once.
- Heat the oil in a large saucepan, add the onions and cook for one minute then add the strips of bell pepper.
- Combine the baked plantains with the stir fry then serve.
Nutritional info: 247 calories, 63g carbs, 3g protein, 5g fiber, 30g sugars, 10mg sodium
The Bottom Line
Caribbean cuisine is a delicious fusion of African, East Indian, European, and Chinese cuisines. This type of cooking is often characterized by its use of fresh ingredients, bold flavors, and a healthy dose of spice. These recipes are a great place to start if you’re looking to add some flavor to your cooking.
This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on to make decisions of any kind. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!
- Caribbean beef patties recipe (n.d., bbcgoodfood.com)
- Caribbean Quinoa and Beans Bowl (2016, africanbites.com)
- Fry bodi (Caribbean green beans) recipe (n.d., bbcgoodfood.com)
- Roast Jerk Plantains (2015, africanbites.com)
- Simple coconut & bean soup recipe (n.d., bbcgoodfood.com)