What is Traditional Jamaican Food?
For centuries, Jamaicans have enjoyed a cultural cuisine known for its rich flavors supplied by ingredients native to the island. In addition to the contents of traditional Jamaican dishes, a specific cooking method gives the food its unique taste and texture: the Dutch Pot!
The Dutch Pot dates back to the Iron Age when man was experimenting with casting iron and creating various types of vessels. Today, it’s the only way to do authentic Jamaican cooking. It provides consistent heat and temperature throughout the cooking process, meaning food is never overcooked. Now that you know how THE DUTCH POT JAMAICAN RESTAURANT got its name, let’s explore some more qualities of traditional Jamaican fare.
Jerk Seasoning is a Timeless Flavor
Most people recognize jerk chicken (or pork) as a significant part of Jamaican cuisine, but if you were to ask a non-Jamaican native what combination of spices creates the signature “jerk” blend, few would have the answer.
The reality is there’s no single way to make jerk seasoning. Still, a few staple herbs and spices give it its distinctly-Jamaican flavor. This standard blend combines everyday herbs and spices, including thyme, nutmeg, onions, and Scotch bonnet peppers. Some people may even include brown sugar to add a subtle sweetness.
Jerk seasoning is highly adaptable and can accommodate those who want more spice (just add more pepper) or who prefer a more sweet, savory marinade on their favorite meat. At THE DUTCH POT JAMAICAN RESTAURANT, we have our own special blend that we invite you to try out for yourself!
When there’s a special occasion, oxtail is the dish for the celebration. Typically served in a stew or soup and combined with fresh herbs and dried spices, residents enjoy this delicacy throughout the Caribbean Islands.
Properly cooking oxtail is a long process. If cooking is rushed, the meat won’t become tender. Because it’s high in gelatin content, oxtail must be cooked slowly and low in the fire until the point where the meat falls off the bone. This slow-braising process takes about 3-4 hours.
Once the cooking process is complete, oxtail is combined with various rice dishes, butter beans, cabbage, and other traditional Jamaican sides. If you’ve never tried oxtail before, we highly recommend trying it out during your next visit.
Indian-Influenced Curry Dishes
It’s well-known throughout the world that India has perfected curry-based dishes. So how did the herbs, spices, and recipes for curry make their way to “the rock” nearly 10,000 miles away?
During Britain’s colonial rule of India and Jamaica during the 1800s, Indian immigrants were transported to Jamaica as indentured servants. While they didn’t have many possessions, they brought their spices. Nearly 200 years later, curry dishes have claimed their place as a part of traditional Jamaican cuisine.
Jamaican curry is usually paired with chicken or goat, and is eaten for lunch, dinner, and even breakfast! Some Jamaicans might tell you that it’s meant to be paired with white rice only (rather than rice and peas), but everyone is entitled to their preference.
Don’t Forget the Fish
Jamaicans have relied on the sea as a food source since humans first inhabited the island. Today, one of the most popular dishes – Escovitch fish – incorporates red snapper, onions, peppers, and vinegar, among other spices.
The traditional preparation of Escovitch fish involves seasoning a whole red snapper and then frying it in oil until the skin is crispy. Add whatever combination of vegetables and spices you prefer, and you can create a tart, spicy, savory flavor profile that will have you wondering why fish is prepared any other way.
Whether you choose chicken, pork, oxtail, or fish, you will want to complement your protein to round out the meal. THE DUTCH POT JAMAICAN RESTAURANT has all the traditional sides you need to bring it all together.
Cabbage is quite common in Jamaica and is steamed with bell peppers and onions to create a flavorful combination. Rice and peas, which also includes beans and spices like scallions, thyme, and even coconut milk, makes a perfect pairing when eaten with most meats.
We Invite You to Experience Traditional Jamaican Food
We’re committed to keeping the flavors of Jamaica alive in every meal we serve. Whether you’re looking to try something new or prefer to stick with a traditional favorite, THE DUTCH POT JAMAICAN RESTAURANT invites you to dine with us!
Need to feed a crowd? Contact us through our website to ask about our catering services and we’ll make sure nobody goes hungry.