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Top 10 Most Popular Jamaican Dishes

May 2nd, 2024

As the Jamaican national motto states, ‘Out of Many One People,’ so too is the country’s renowned cuisine, a culmination of the various culinary delicacies of the people who call the island home. From Jamaica’s indigenous Arawak/Taino people and the descendants of enslaved Africans to the British, Asian, Spanish, and Indian inhabitants that settled in the country, each has left its mark on Jamaican cuisine.

This top-ten list of popular Jamaican dishes was curated by Yardhype based on their popularity and relevance in 2024 and is in no particular order.

1. Ackee and Salt Fish

Image – The Sophisticated Caveman

Ackee and salt fish’s importance on this list is not only derived from its popularity for its taste but also from its status as Jamaica’s national dish. Not only is ackee a key component in the dish, but it is also Jamaica’s national fruit.

Despite their status, neither ackee nor saltfish are indigenous to Jamaica. Saltfish, also known as codfish, is a dried fish imported from Europe, while ackee was introduced to the Caribbean from West Africa.

The dish is usually enjoyed with dumplings, breadfruit, bananas, or ground provisions, such as yam.

2. Curry Chicken with White Rice

Image – The Food Network

Heavily influenced by the Indian dish, Chicken Curry, Jamaican curry chicken differs from the traditional Indian curry as a result of the local seasonings often used. Depending on one’s preference, the dish is customarily made using Indian or locally made Jamaican curry and vegetables such as potatoes, carrots, garlic, ginger, green onion, Scotch bonnet peppers, and by some people, coconut milk.

3. Curry Goat with White Rice

Similar to curried chicken, curry goat (mutton) also features Indian influences. Infused with various local spices, curry goat is typically served with white rice but is also frequently eaten with rice and peas. 

4. Mackerel and Rice

Image – Grace Foods

Easily prepared, tin mackerels are a popular budget-friendly alternative for lower-income Jamaican families. The dish is usually sautéd simply with garlic, onions, and peppers in tomato sauce.

Also known as ‘dutty gyal’ and ‘flash out,’ a stigma has long existed around the dish, and it is often classified as ‘poor people food.’ While mackerel and rice are rarely featured at restaurants, the dish is enjoyed, whether publicly or privately, by many Jamaicans.

5. Oxtail with Rice and Peas

Oxtail and mackerel can be considered total opposites in regard to the public perception of the dishes. Whereas tin mackerels are viewed as a staple among households affected by economic constraints, oxtail has become a peculiar form of status symbol in Caribbean communities.

Cooked with butterbean and various spices, oxtail was once considered a throwaway cut of meat, typically from the ox. The dish now utilises the tails of varying forms of cattle and has risen astronomically in price per pound. Notably, approximately half of its weight is made up of bone.

Jamaican oxtail is often served alongside rice and peace. A combination of red kidney beans and rice cooked in coconut milk, rice and peas is a staple for many in Jamaica.

6. Jamaican Brown Stew Chicken and Rice and Peas

A simple yet popular meal in Jamaica, brown stewed chicken is seasoned with local spices and herbs to make a rich gravy that is served with a myriad of dishes.

7. Callaloo

Image – Side Chef

Customarily prepared by steaming with onions, garlic, scotch bonnet, escallion, and other herbs, callaloo is a leafy green vegetable often served as a side dish alongside ground provisions. Jamaica’s callaloo side dish consists of amaranth leaves and should not be confused with the Trinidadian, Grenadian, and Dominican callaloo dishes made from dasheen/taro leaves.

8. Jerk Chicken with Festivals

Undoubtedly one of Jamaica’s most internationally recognised and loved dishes, the origins of Jamaican jerk chicken can be traced back to the country’s indigenous Arawak people. The term jerk is categorised by both the seasonings used and the method of preparing the dish.

Before the abolition of slavery in Jamaica, the Arawak people and the Maroons sought refuge from the country’s colonial rulers. Settling alongside each other, the Maroons and the Arawak shared their culinary traditions.

Traditionally, jerk chicken was prepared in an underground smokeless pit and roasted over dying embers, so the location of the escaped slaves could not be identified from the smoke. A popular Jamaican street food, jerk chicken is often served with festival dumplings, a combination of flour, cornmeal, and sugar.

9. Escoveitch Fish and Bammy 

Image – Lists Jamaica

This popular fried fish dish and street food is a variation of the South American dish ceviche. The dish often consists of fried snapper served with a spicy sauce made from julienned peppers, carrots, and onions pickled in vinegar and salt. Jamaican bammy is made from grated cassava, which is formed into a type of flatbread.

10. Mannish Water

This usually light soup dish is often primarily made from a goat’s head. The dish is considered a male-enhancing aphrodisiac by some and is often served before the main course as an appetiser at Jamaican events.

This content was originally sourced and posted at YARDHYPE »
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