Traditional recipes

5 Bites of Kingston, Jamaica

5 Bites of Kingston, Jamaica

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By Caribbean standards, the Jamaican capital Kingston is an enormous city with a large number of international residents, which means that as culinary influences go in both directions, the city’s movers and shakers have developed a hankering for upscale dining. To wit, after years as a star chef in London, Jamaican-born Collin Brown has decided to return to the island to collaborate with celebrity hotelier Jon Baker, and in a few short years, the country's Restaurant Week in November has become a national success, proving that fine cuisine isn’t limited to the high-rise international hotels like the Wyndham Kingston Jamaica and Jamaica Pegasus Hotel in the New Kingston business district.

But a serious cuisine scene is still perhaps not the top reason the casual traveler books a trip to Jamaica. Thankfully, Kingston restaurateurs have by no means lost sight of the island’s basics and continue to play on the nation’s mix of ethnic influences, from British, Iberian, Sephardic, and African to Taino Indian, East Indian, and Chinese, the latter whose community many credit with broadening the appeal of the ubiquitous beef patties. And who’s going to argue with a diet that produced the fastest man in the world? Six-time Olympic gold medalist Usain Bolt famously grew up on yams.

Breakfast: Traditionally, Jamaicans start the day with a protein dish served with fried and boiled sides, and ackee (a creamy, yellow-flesh fruit) and saltfish (cod) are as much a national dish as any. Saltfish with beans or saltfish with callaloo and stewed chicken are also popular choices, and Johnny cakes (fried dumplings) and fried plantains are frequent breakfast accompaniments. Even the most nondescript strip-mall outlet serves high-quality breakfast fare; what you lose in aesthetic surroundings in going to chain outlets like Tastee and Juici Patties is made up for in the heartiness of their ever-popular beef patties. At your hotel buffet, you’ll find yourself skipping over the bacon and omelettes for all of the above options as well as items like vanilla-and cinnamon-enhanced cornmeal porridge. After feasting on the breakfast specialties in Jamaica, don’t be surprised when you go home and find your cereal and bagels as boring as cardboard.

Lunch: Maintained today by the state as a heritage site, the Georgian-style Devon House is one of the West Indies’ great surviving mansions, built by George Stiebel, who was Jamaica’s first black millionaire. Somewhat reminiscent of a tiny Colonial Williamsburg with brick workshops (today they are boutiques) built around a courtyard, the house is worth a tour in its own right. It also hosts several fine lunch and dinner spots, including The Grog Shoppe on a patio off the main house. After lunch, stop into the adjacent pub area for a cool Red Stripe beer. Everyone from regular families to Kingston’s elite — beauty queens, politicos, and media hosts — and even Prince Harry come to dine on the porch shaded by centuries-old trees or indoors in the high-ceilinged former servants quarters. Specialties include traditional ackee puffs flavored with ginger and a teriyaki dipping sauce, which make for a light appetizer, and the escoveitched snapper fillet, a salty main dish with a peppery crunch to it.

Snack: Three years ago the Spanish Court Hotel opened as one of Kingston’s few boutique properties. Its second-floor Sky Bar is an outdoor lounge and a fine place to kick back under an umbrella with a cup of Blue Mountain coffee (85 percent of which is exported to Japan) and to take in the view of the famous range that produces it. Their jerk roll with callaloo is a Jamaican twist on fried spring rolls, served with Scotch bonnet peppers and thyme dipping sauce. And with a long infinity pool stretching through the middle of the lounge, snacking is sometimes for the eyes, too. For something sweet, the hotel’s well-appointed lobby café serves a popular lychee cake made from locally grown fruit.

Dinner: Located in an American-style bungalow, the Redbones Blues Café in New Kingston is run by a gregarious Jamaican with his American wife and daughter helping run the show. Its bar/café has jazzy murals, while its main house where couples can canoodle over dinner is filled with vintage posters and photos out of the American jazz pantheon. On the terrace, after-work groups party it up over appetizers of smoked marlin salad served with papaya slices and capers. Whichever area one dines in, the seasonal grilled lobster in garlic butter cream may not seem a very Caribbean main dish, but it goes well with the casually elegant jazz theme. The enormous patio has an outdoor stage for live jazz shows (Maria Muldaur of Midnight at the Oasis fame has played there).

Dessert: As Central Kingston isn't that large, it’s an easy trip back to Devon House for an ice cream shop that routinely shows up on the world’s great ice cream lists. Of the I Scream shop’s 27 flavors, their mango doesn’t just taste like real fruit, it’s so creamy as to redefine the word. And how often do you ever taste a cone of tangy sour sop, and where else would you ever be served a cup of stout beer flavor? The tiny shop may not have seats, but no matter; step into the Devon House courtyard and lick away on benches or under a gazebo. For those who prefer dessert with a little more buzz, the one-room Bin26 Wine Bar is just 30 yards to the left in the courtyard. Besides wines from around the world, it serves nibbles including chocolate mousse and fresh fruit kebabs.

The word authentic seems to get bandied around by those who feel a need to convince you that their recipes are genuinely Jamaican. Almost every Jamaican is a cook, and each cooks in their own way.

Every recipe that a Jamaican cooks is a genuine Jamaican recipe.
Cooking being an art, GOOD cooks add ingredients to the pot as they are cooking. They taste and add.

And particularly in today's Internet world, can you tell a Jamaican who has never left the shores of Jamaica that her/his recipe is not an authentic Jamaican recipe, because she/he borrowed some ideas from recipes she/he saw online, or in the many cookbooks in bookstores.

To me her/his cooking is still authentic Jamaican cooking . t here is no single authentic Jamaican recipe, but lots of variations.

The only times I have followed recipes closely (recipes which I created) was when operating a restaurant, where there was a need to be consistent.

So use these Jamaican recipes as a guide and for inspiration, and enjoy.

They are either based on my family's recipes, are my own creations, or are from my visitors. They are not copied from other sources, but over the years recipe ideas have certainly been gained from many other sources.

8 traditional Jamaican dishes to try at Kingston 21

  1. Trench Town Rock: Jamaican-style curry goat served in a pastry basket with a carrot and potato garnish
  2. Rock Steady Jerk Chicken: chicken marinated for 24 hours and slow-cooked on the grill
  3. Mento Oxtail: flavoured oxtail stewed for five hours with herbs
  4. Ackee and salt fish: the national dish of Jamaica makes for a hearty breakfast
  5. Jamaican porridge: another breakfast favourite, can be made with peanut, cornmeal, banana and plantain
  6. Jamaican beef patty: a pastry with ground beef filling
  7. Hellshire Pon di Beach: Fresh fish with pickles
  8. Out of Many: traditional sweet potato pudding

There’s a reason new kid on the block Kingston 21 is making waves in Abu Dhabi’s thriving culinary scene.

The restaurant opened doors mid-April, and prides itself on being the first authentic Jamaican restaurant in the capital. That's because although there are a handful of Caribbean restaurants in Abu Dhabi, Kingston 21 is the first to be Jamaican-owned and run, complete with Jamaican chefs, a menu featuring authentic dishes, and hard-to-find ingredients imported directly from the island country.

The menu offers a blast of nostalgia for anyone who is from Jamaica or has visited in the past, and is craving a taste of the nation's hearty fare. On the menu are all the favourites: jerk barbecue wings and jerk chicken, curry goat, plantain chips, oxtail stew and traditional toto – a wholesome coconut spice cake.

1. Spacious penthouse apartment in New Kingston (from USD 100)

Looking for a luxury Airbnb in Kingston? This penthouse apartment in New Kingston is gorgeously decorated and spacious to boot. There&rsquos a comfy bed that accommodates two guests and a private balcony and rooftop deck that look out onto the city and Kingston Harbour. Two Smart TVs, free Wi-Fi, and a full kitchen provide convenience, while an outdoor pool and Jacuzzi offer relaxation. At only a five-minute walk from numerous cafés, bars, restaurants, and attractions like cinemas and Devon House, the rest of Kingston is easily at your fingertips.

17 Dishes to Transport You to Jamaica

Landon Nordeman

If you’re looking to add a little Jamaican flavor to your summer cooking repertoire, we’ve got the recipes you need and will love all year round. From braised oxtail to ackee and saltfish, here are the classic Jamaican recipes you should be cooking now.

Grilled Snapper with Habanero and Scallions

Chile heat brings out the sweetness of whole red snapper in this Jamaican recipe.

Curried Chicken

Bathed in fragrant curry- and ginger-infused coconut milk, this stew is a popular breakfast dish at Kingston cafés. Get the recipe for Curried Chicken »

Braised Oxtail with Butter Beans

Oxtail, a tough cut of meat, becomes meltingly tender when braised in this traditional Jamaican dish, served with Coconut Rice and Red Beans, which soak up all the flavorful pan juices. Get the recipe for Braised Oxtail with Butter Beans »

Pepper Pot Soup

This vegetarian soup, a Jamaican classic, is made with callaloo, a spinach-like green that can be found canned or fresh in Caribbean groceries. Serve with minced fresh Scotch bonnet chiles sprinkled on top for extra heat. Get the recipe for Pepper Pot Soup »

Stamp and Go

These road snacks are possibly named for the way travelers would stamp their feet at food stands to hail vendors. This recipe, adapted from one given to us by Jamaican food columnist Jacqui Sinclair, pairs the fritters with a sauce made with culantro, an herb with a cilantro-like flavor.

Fricassee Chicken

Rosemary-Jerk Lamp Chops

Here, a classic jerk marinade is perfumed with rosemary and slathered over lamb loin chops for a surprising take on the iconic chicken preparation. The soy sauce in the marinade boosts the lamb’s umami flavors.

Coconut Rice and Red Beans

If you prefer, you can use canned red kidney beans in this satisfying side dish, served alongside Braised Oxtail with Butter Beans. Simply skip the first step and rinse one 15-oz. can of beans before adding them to the pan in step two.

Ackee and Saltfish

Ackee, Jamaica’s national fruit, is the highlight of this hearty sauté. These fluffy fried dumplings, served at the Wyndham Kingston Jamaica, are great alongside ackee and saltfish.

Banana Fritters with Cinnamon-Sugar and Rum

Use very ripe organic bananas for these silver-dollar-size fritters, as they will mash the best and create a smooth, sweet batter. Get the recipe for Banana Fritters with Cinnamon-Sugar and Rum » Full of fiery chiles and warm spices, the all-purpose seasoning for this dish can be used as a rub on pork, goat, fish, and vegetables, as well as chicken. Jacqui Sinclair, food columnist for the Jamaica Observer, gave us the recipe for these mini brunch quiches made with callaloo, a spinach-like Jamaican green. Sweet conch meat meets fiery chiles in this aromatic stew. Long simmering tenderizes the shellfish and results in a sumptuous dish.

Hominy Porridge

Dried hominy takes hours of cooking, but it yields a luscious porridge. This recipe comes from Kingston-based caterer Dian Watson.

Vegetable Run-Up

This version of rundown, typically made with mackerel, was renamed by chef Yvonne Peters-Hope of Ashanti Oasis Vegetarian Restaurant, who gave us the recipe for this meat-free take on the savory breakfast stew.

Jamaican Punch


On Pastry-Making and the Punk Rock Appeal of Pop-ups

In the lead-up to their first culinary collab, Natasha Pickowicz and Doris Hồ-Kane sit down to talk about staying scrappy.

More Options Nearby

Scotchies Jerk Center

Open for lunch and dinner Dress code: Casual

Sweet wood

Great spot next to the hotel offering Jamaican specials such as jerk chicken, plantain and roasted sweet potatoes.

Open for lunch and dinner

Jojo&aposs Jerk Pit

Open for lunch and dinner Dress code: Casual

Usain Bolt&aposs Tracks & Records

Usain Bolt’s Tracks & Records is the first of its kind in the Caribbean region and has already started to break the barriers of a casual eatery and sports bar & lounge

Open for lunch and dinner Dress code: Casual

CRU Bar and Kitchen

Enjoy our hybrid of a wine bar, premium spirit destination and delectable small plates from our Kitchen with family and friends.

Open for dinner Dress code: Casual

CPJ Deli

The Deli offers ready-to-serve foods such as soup, sandwiches, cut cheeses, cold cooked meats, salads, juices and more

Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner Dress code: Casual

Nirvanna Indian Fusion

Tea Tree Crêperie

Cordon Bleu style eatery, we offer a tantalizing menu of classic breakfast, gluten-free as well as vegan delights, delicious desserts, quiche, salads, 100% Blue Mountain coffee drinks, blended and specialty drinks

Open for breakfast Dress code: Casual

Chez Maria

Open for lunch and dinner Dress code: Casual

Fromage Gourmet Market

French-themed gourmet wine and cheese market with a small bistro serving light European style food.

A List Of What You Will Be Learning About

Note: the following list is in no particular order!

You will learn a lot about JA and its history through a variety of topics which includes:

  • The First Inhabitants
  • How we were discovered (By Christopher Columbus of course)
  • The English Attack
  • The Slave Trade , Pledge and Song (like the ones in the photos above)
  • Our Road to Emancipation and Independence
  • Our Culture (which includes food, dance, music, etc)
  • Our Government Structure (JLP, PNP)

  • Some Famous People (Bob Marley, Miss Lou, Edna Manley, etc)
  • Mountains, Rivers, Beaches
  • Schools and Colleges
  • Real Estate
  • Heritage Sites
  • Tourists Attractions (Beaches, Hotels, etc)
  • Media (newspaper, television, radio, internet)
  • Museums
    (Mento, Ska, Rocksteady, Reggae, Dancehall)
  • and many other areas

You will get a chance to view some of our most beautiful, breathtaking, and mouthwatering photos - even the ones that include me personally!!

Just to show you what I mean, here is a photo of our national dish in all its glory. One taste of this dish and you will be coming back for more!

Ackee and Saltfish with fried Breadfruit

So please, take your time and navigate through the site to learn more on the areas that you would LOVE to know more about and do share the info with others who you know have questions about sweet, sweet JA.

On the note of sweet, take a listen to one of our many songs from "Tony Rebel - Sweet Jamdung." It was recorded some time ago, in about 1993. I am sure you will enjoy it.

Those songs were selected to put you in a "feel-good" mood to go forth and learn more about JA.

Remember, if you have any questions or queries please feel free to CONTACT ME and I will get back to you in a reasonable time frame.

ENJOY "!! "

5 Caribbean Bread Bites

Unlike the flaky artisan breads found in European countries, Caribbean bread are usually quick to make, basic and solid, but they still pack a flavorful punch. They’re baked and fried (there are even “fried bakes”), and every island has its own take on similar recipes. This list by no means covers all Caribbean breads but it’s a great way to start exploring Caribbean bread bites.

How to make Jamaican Rice and Peas

(Full measurements in the recipe card at the end)

Prepare the dried beans:

1. Presoak for 8 hours or overnight in double the amount of water.

2. Drain, rinse and add to a pot or pressure cooker.

3. Fill the pot with enough fresh water to ensure the level is 1 inch above the beans. Cover with a lid.

4. Cook at high heat for one hour in a pot (adding more water if needed to maintain the level) or 20 minutes in a pressure cooker. The beans should be tender but not crunchy or mushy.

Make fresh coconut milk:

1. Add the shredded unsweetened coconut flakes to a blender with warm water.

2. Blend for 2 minutes. I used an immersion blender for easier cleanup.

3. Strain the mixture, extracting as much liquid as possible. I used a nut milk bag which is super fine and much easier to use.

4. Set the coconut milk aside.

Make the cooking broth for the rice:

1. Once the beans are cooked, allow the pressure cooker to release before opening.

If you&rsquore using a standard pressure cooker. Place the pot in the sink and run some cool water over it until the pressure fully releases.

2. Add the pre-cooked beans with liquid or undrained canned beans to a pot more suitable for cooking rice.

If you cooked the beans in the rice pot then no need to remove them.

3. Add the homemade coconut milk (or canned coconut milk) to the pot.

4. Stir in the jerk seasoning, scallion, garlic cloves, thyme, allspice, scotch bonnet pepper, salt and black pepper.

5. Cover the pot and bring to a boil at high heat for 5 minutes.

Decrease the heat to low and continue cooking for 15 minutes or until the liquid is reduced and has a deep reddish-brown colour.

Key tip: If your pot doesn&rsquot already have a vent, slightly ventilate the lid to prevent any boiling over.

Wash the rice:

1. Add the rice to a large bowl and fill with water.

2. Stir to release the starches that could make the rice stick together while cooking. Drain.

3. Repeat the rinsing and draining steps until the water is clear (about 4 to 5 times total).

Cook the rice:

1. Once the broth is ready, add the drained rice to the pot.

2. Add more water if needed to ensure the level is 1 inch above the rice.

3. Cover with a sheet of aluminum foil, then the lid.

4. Allow the rice to cook and steam for 12 to 15 minutes or until it&rsquos tender and all the liquid is absorbed.

5. Allow it to rest for 10 minutes after cooking. Remove the strands of scallion, thyme branches and scotch bonnet pepper before gently stirring with a fork.

Jamaican Jerk Chicken Recipe

Let’s learn how to make jerk chicken!

First we need to make the famous Jerk Sauce.

Absolutely nothing compares to homemade and our recipe captures the bold, fresh, and vibrant flavors of authentic Jamaican jerk sauce. Grab our recipe for traditional Jamaican Jerk Sauce.

You can make the jerk sauce up to a day in advance. Then when you’re ready to use it, simply place the chicken pieces in a ziplock bag (or lay them out in a casserole dish with a lid), pour the jerk sauce over the chicken and massage to fully coat them.

Refrigerate and let them marinate overnight, 8-10 hours, or up to 24 hours. Don’t shorten the marinating time.

If using a grill: Preheat to about 400 F. Rub the grates with oil and grill the chicken until cooked through (internal temp should be 165-170 F), turning the chicken occasionally, about 30-40 minutes

If using the oven: Preheat the oven to 375 F.

Lay the chicken pieces on a lined baking sheet with a good amount of sauce on them and spread them at least an inch apart.

Pour the remaining sauce into a small saucepan. Bring it to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 5 minutes. You can use this sauce both for basting while the chicken cooks and for serving at the table. (It’s also delicious stirred into steamed rice!)

Bake the chicken for 35-45 minutes or until the internal temperature of the chicken reads 165-170 F.

Turn the chicken over at the halfway point and then turn it over again at the end before broiling.

I always recommend using an instant read thermometer. An all too common problem with baked chicken is overcooking it for fear that it will be raw and then you end up with dry chicken. Using a thermometer takes the guesswork out of it and you can have perfectly moist, juicy chicken every time. (I also recommend using these thermometers for bread-baking for the same reason – to prevent bread that is over-baked and dry and to prevent bread that is under-baked and gummy.) You can get instant read thermometers pretty cheaply. I use this thermometer.

After turning the chicken over the last time, turn the oven on to broil for a few more minutes to roast chicken until nicely browned.

Remove the chicken from the oven and let t rest for a couple of minutes before serving. See serving recommendations in the post above.



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