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The Chinese & Indian Fusion in Jamaican Cuisine

/ Food & Drink

Jamacan Fusion CookingWith the convergence of so many peoples into ONE on the island, Jamaica has seen the cuisine of the island assimilate the very best of traditional cooking styles from other continents into a multi-fusional bounty of delights. 

One example is the empanada that the Spanish brought to the islands with their colonisation, it was “modified” by the British and then souped- up with a combination of East Indian and Chinese/Hakka influences to become the world-famous Jamaican Pattie.

1843 saw the first of the 36,000 East Indians that would arrive in Jamaica and whose influence spread so that by the time of the first Jamaican Cookbook in 1893 there were recipes for curry and a coconut jelly.  Jamaica’s most famous Curry Goat became a favoured  dish across the country, embraced by newly emancipated slaves who were used to slow-cooking foods in an effort to make them soft and palatable whilst they were forced to  work on the plantation all day. Today, curried dishes grace nearly every Jamaican menu, using local meats such as goat, chicken and seafood.  

Also from India came Pilaf, to become “Rice N Peas" in its Jamaican incarnation.  It was Indians who had finally managed to successfully grow rice on the island and in time this group people became known as the best vegetable farmers in Jamaica.  Roti wraps became a mainstream dish in Jamaica as did dhaal, that became a spicy lentil/mung or red bean soup in Jamaica.  The chutneys, relishes, hot sauces with a backbone of the tamarind that had been introduced into the island in the C16th are an integral part of island cuisine, all adopted & modified from Indian cuisine.

The first Chinese indentured labourers arrived in 1849 to undertake the work in the plantation fields that the newly emancipated slaves had left.   After their indenture, normally 3 years, many remained in Jamaica, and a common career choice afterwards was in setting up small food stores.  Many historians have remarked that it is due to their import skills that rice, saltfish, saltmeats, flour and cornmeal became staples of the Jamaican diet.  Jamaica’s most famous sauce, Jerk Sauce, now features Soya Sauce in many recipes including our own and it is the Hakka fondness for sweet & sour flavours combined together that provides the key to so many classic Jamaican fish dishes today.

Our Favourite Indian & Chinese Fusion Jamaican Soup recipe:

Coconut and Lemongrass Soup with Tandoori Chicken Won Ton

1 Carrot in julienne
2 onions in julienne
7 garlic cloves
4 strings lemongrass (only the white part) finely choped
1 finger ginger  garlic, ginger tumeric finely choped
1 finger tumeric
2 cup corn nibbets
6 spring onions finely cut
2 birdpeppers finely chopped
2 bay leaves
Salt & Black pepper to personal taste
4 tbsp lemon juice
2 litres coconut milk
1 litre chicken stock
2 tandoori spiced chicken breast cut in small cubes
10 won ton skins
1 egg

Method: for the soup
Cut up all the vegetables and spices.
In a large pan fry the ginger and the tumeric with the onions, the lemon grass and the garlic for 2 minutes than the spring onions and the half of the chicken cubes.
Add up the stock and the coconut milk bring to boil and add the corn and the bay leaves
Simmer gently for 30 min than taste with salt black pepper,lemon juice
Add if neccesary some brown sugar to balance.

Method: for the won tons
The filling: the other half of the cubed chicken …

Spread the won ton skins on a floured working counter put the filling in the middle (1 teaspoon of filling) and brush the edges with egg then fold together.

Boil the won tons in salted water for 5 min and warm in the soup to order. Garnish with spring onion julienne and chopped coriander.

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