A friend of mine asked me to do an article on Jamaican Kosher foods, while I found this to be odd (I mean we have the TORAH), I decided to do one none the less. Jamaica is a land of mixed multitudes while we may all look black, we have a mixture of; British, Scottish, Irish, Jewish, Spanish, Portuguese, Chinese, Indian, and even Middle Eastern blood. Of course there was that large population boom of Germans During the 1900′s but I don’t think they contributed much to cuisine. I said all this so there won’t be any surprises when describing the variety of dishes we have, keep in mind if you go to a Jamaican restaurant to order vegetarian, since the meat will most likely not be Kosher Certified.
One of the most well known recipes in Jamaican tradition, I for one hate it. Its too spicy to enjoy and provide little flavor never the less Jamaicans still make and eat it. I think Jerked meat it like Gefilte fish in Jewish tradition, everyone eats it but doesn’t necessarily fancy it. You can make your own Jerk chicken by buying a special bottle of jerk spice most major groceries in North American major cities carry them.
Ackee and Salt fish /Dumpings (fried)
One of my favourite things to enjoy, often times this dish is prepared with dumplings either cooked or fried. Ackee actually looks like a flower when it ripens and is said to have been brought over from Africa. The salt fish is normally boiled till all the salt is removed, and the ackee cooked till delicate and strained. The two are mixed together is a frying pan with oil accompanied with sliced onions sweet peppers and whatever else one is comfortable with adding.
Cooked Dumpings/Sweet potato/banana/
The above are normally the basic part of a Jamaican meal dish, Jamaican sweet potatoes are the best on the planet. Want proof? Go to your local grocery store or one that carries Jamaican sweet potatoes, $5 buck says its the most expensive that the potatoes that are shipped from anywhere else in the world. While they can be eaten ripe the bananas can also be cooked when green, as a matter of fact certain nutrition can only be digested this way and other nutrition when it has ripened. And Yes the Above are Kosher.
Callaloo (salt fish) /Breadfruit/Cassava(bammy)/ Cabbage/Fritters
Callaloo a leafy vegetable which is chopped up and steamed and often made with salt fish. It is a favourite amongst Jamaicans, often enjoyed with dumplings. However if made for breakfast it can be enjoyed with bread fruit, fried dumplings, or even bammy. Breadfruit is normally roasted over a fire and can be fried afterwards and is normally enjoyed with salt. Bammy made from cassava is also a fried delicacy, sorry to say its one I choose to live without since I don’t care for the taste and other Jamaicans look at me funny when I say this. Cabbage is often enjoyed in the morning for breakfast sometimes with fish and cooked down, normally if eaten for dinner it is enjoyed raw as a side dish mixed with corn and dressing. Its hard for me to explain fritters but its a combination of flour and various other ingredients fried like a pancake and eaten,quite good actually, but perhaps the most oiliest thing you will ever eat as far as Jamaican food is concerned,
Patty (beef, chicken, veggie, cheese)
If you have only one Caribbean restaurant in your city chances are they sell patties, the only reason I don’t enjoy patties more often is because I don’t know the recipe for the crust but after writing this article I am determined to find out. While the patty sold in most stores is not certified Kosher, you can make your own at home. I was surprised to find out there are cheese patties I’ve never had the opportunity to enjoy one in Jamaica but apparently they exist. I’ve never met a person who doesn’t like patty, and its common to see many of my fellow Canadians eating one on a bus or train.
Often enjoyed with kidney means or other pease, this is probably a tradition gained from the Spaniards or the workers who migrated from India. A true Jamaican will prepare such a pot with coconut creme, that gives it a delicious taste.
We enjoy all forms or porridges from oats, to cornmeal, rice, even nut porridges(ie…peanut). However if I’m not mistaken cornmeal porridge is a Jamaican thing, the trick is to keep stirring and make sure there are no lumps, that will ruin the entire bowl.
We have a variety of meat soups, these however cause some people a form of worry since they are not use to eating that particular part of the animal, chicken foot soup for instance is a classic on the Island. Goat soup is also prepared with the goats intestines and is actually quite tasty. We may have possibly gained these traditions from the Chinese Jamaicans. Other thing put in soups are turnips, potatoes, dumplings, yams, Chocho (christophine), pumpkin, squash, skelion and so forth, you get the idea.
Most Stew are beef normally mixed with peas or beans. Some dishes would include cow foot, now I know what your thinking, but don’t deny it till you’ve tried it. One of the most, loved dishes is ox tail stew, I can guarantee you should you master this dish any Jamaican out there will be looking forward to returning to your house. Oxtail is often in high demand and quite expensive but worth the price.
Chicken/goat and Pork
Chicken is often curried, barbecued or what we call brown stewed, goat on the other hand is often enjoyed curried. Pork is a big a”no no” in Jamaican tradition, this is due to the observance of Kosher dietary laws and the rastafarian movement. Its odd however to see some Jamaicans go out of their way to avoid pork but yet enjoy shellfish.
*Note, Jamaicans rarely if ever eat webbed feet birds (ie..duck, geese, etc), this may be due to the fact that they are not a large part of Jamaican animal population.
Beverages/Sweets and Desserts
Here are some of the most loved drinks; sorrel, Ting, suck-suck, mango, various flavours of soda’s, Irish Moss (made from a type of seaweed) and so on. Sweets include sugared tamarind, coconut, and even peanuts. Coconuts are used to make allot of Jamaican sweet treats. Banana cake is very big on the island, as well as bun and cheese and potato pudding, all of these are of course Kosher.
Sugar and spice and everything nice
Jamaican’s grows miles and miles of sugar cane each year. At one point the Caribbean supplied western Europe with all its sugar. Spices are plentiful on the island and it will be silly almost to name them all still spices like curry and pimento are plentiful in Jamaican dishes.
I hope your still with me thus far, and if you are I hope I haven’t stirred your hunger too much. Jamaicans have one tradition that is different from our European brothers. Sure the food is different but so is an entire mealtime, LUNCH! While most Europeans and north Americans actually eat a sandwich for lunch (I feel so sorry for them) Jamaicans will actually enjoy a nice plate of rice with any of the following; fried fish, stew chicken, curry chicken, or stew. With that final note in mind that is Kosher Jamaica for you I hope this article helped you all and my friend of getting an idea of what Jews who wish to enjoy Jamaican cuisine can eat.
Tags: ackee and salt fish, banana, favourite things, frying pan, germans, groceries, jamaican restaurant, jamaicans, jerk chicken, jewish tradition, kosher foods, local grocery store, major cities, multitudes, onions, population boom, sweet peppers, sweet potato, sweet potatoes, Torah
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