Jamaican cuisine includes a mixture of cooking techniques, flavours and spices influenced by Amerindian, West African, Irish, English, French, Portuguese, Spanish, Indian, Chinese and Middle Eastern people who have inhabited the island. It is also influenced by the crops introduced into the island from tropical Southeast Asia, many of which are now grown locally. A wide variety of seafood, tropical fruits and meats are available.

Some Jamaican dishes are variations on cuisines brought to the island from elsewhere. These are often modified to incorporate local produce and spices. Others are novel or fusion and have developed locally. Popular Jamaican dishes include curry goat, fried dumplings, ackee and saltfish. Jamaican patties along with various pastries, breads and beverages are also popular.

Jamaican cuisine has spread with emigrants, especially during the 20th century, from the island to other nations as Jamaicans have sought economic opportunities in other countries.


Women selling desserts in Kingston, Jamaica, c. 1899

Development of the cuisine

Billboard at Fish Pot Kitchen, White River

African cuisine developed on the island as a result of waves of slavery, such as callaloo from the Angolan dish calulu. The Spanish, the first European arrivals to the island, contributed dishes such as the vinegary escovitch fish (Spanish escabeche) by way of Spanish Jews. Later, the Cornish may have influenced the development of the Jamaican patty, a pasty-styled turnover filled with spiced meat. East Indian and Chinese influences can be found in Jamaican cuisine like roti, curried dishes, chow mein and sweet and sour meats as a result of indentured labourers who replaced slaves after emancipation. Salted codfish was brought by Portuguese Jews who had escaped the inquisition in the 1500s and is now used in the national dish ackee and saltfish. It has become a staple from the time it was eaten by enslaved Africans as a long-lasting source of affordable protein.

Jamaican cuisine and the Rastafarians

Jamaican cuisine includes Rastafarian influences but not entirely. Rastafarians have a vegetarian approach to preparing food, cooking, and eating, and have introduced a host of unique vegetarian dishes to the Jamaican cuisine. Rastafarians do not eat pork. However, pork is a very popular dish in Jamaica. Stew pork and jerk pork are some of the most popular ways to prepare it. There are even some who believe in cooking with little or no salt, which is referred to as the 'Ital' way.

Popular dishes

Main article: List of Jamaican dishes

Ackee and saltfish
A Jamaican patty wrapped in coco bread

A Jamaican breakfast includes ackee and saltfish, seasoned callaloo, boiled green bananas, and fried dumplings.[1]

Main courses


Side dishes

Breads and pastries

Bammy flatbread


Desserts and sweets

Mango and soursop ice cream are two popular desserts. Jamaican ice cream comes in many flavours like grapenut, rum and raisin and Dragon Stout.

Other popular desserts include batata pudding, cornmeal pudding, cassava pone, gizzada, grater cake, toto, banana fritters, coconut drops, plantain tarts and guava cheese.

Tie A Leaf, or blue drawers is a dish made by combining a starch (usually cornmeal or cassava) with coconut milk, then wrapped and tied in banana leaf before boiling.

Asham is parched corn that is ground and combined with brown sugar.

Tamarind balls are candy made with the sticky flesh of the fruit rolled with brown sugar into round sweet and sour balls. You can also make a spicy version that contains hot pepper in the mix.

Bustamante Backbone, named after the first Prime Minister Alexander Bustamante, is a candy.

Jamaican food abroad

Jamaican coco bread from a Los Angeles bakery

Jamaican cuisine is available throughout North America, the United Kingdom, and other places with a sizeable Jamaican population. In the United States, a large number of restaurants are located throughout New York's boroughs, Atlanta, West Palm Beach, Fort Lauderdale, Washington DC, Philadelphia, and other metropolitan areas. In Canada, Jamaican restaurants can be found in the Toronto metropolitan area, as well as Vancouver, Montreal, and Ottawa.

Golden Krust Caribbean Bakery & Grill is a chain of about 120 franchised restaurants found throughout the U.S. These restaurants sell Jamaican patties, buns, breads, and other popular Jamaican dishes. They also supply food to several institutions in New York.[citation needed]

See also


  1. ^ Deborah S. Hartz Authentic Jamaican breakfast Aug 1, 1991 Ocala Star-Banner page 44