Beautiful turquoise beaches, sky scraping palm trees, silver sands, glistening sunlight and romantic sunsets: the Caribbean Islands are a colorful treat for our eyes, and their cuisine is equally something to relish. There are more than 7000 islands in the Caribbean plate, that we call the West Indies.
The early inhabitants of the islands were from the northern part of South America. Their cuisine included corn, cassava, squash yams and sweet potatoes along with an extensive selection of seafood. Eventually ravaged by disease and their conquest by the Spaniards, English and French, most of the early inhabitants were wiped out. The native cuisine, called Creole, was influenced by European, African and Spanish cuisines.
One toasty Sunday afternoon, we had a few friends over for a Caribbean party. Here is a peek at the menu. Enjoy!
I marinated the shrimp with some jerk seasoning and lime juice. Then I coated the shrimp with a mixture of chives and dry coconut. Then I deep fried the shrimp. Another healthy (a little guilt free) alternative is to precook the shrimp and then coat it with the coconut mixture and bake it in the oven.
I talked to a Jamaican women at the store and asked her about plantains. She gave me a recipe in a few seconds. I registered it in my head and here is how it turned out.
Sweet Potato Fries:
I made a spice mix with olive oil and fried the sweet potato strips in the oven.
Spicy Potato Salad:
This spicy version of a regular potato salad has Scotch bonnet peppers and chives. I served it as a dip with sliced baguette and crackers.
Entrée: Jerk Chicken with Bean and Rice :
Jerk seasoning is a mixture of all spice, scotch bonnet peppers, lime juice, juniper berries, black pepper, scallions and nutmeg. This seasoning is rubbed over the meat and cooked over charcoal. I broiled it in the oven at 425 degrees.
Lamb and Black Eyed Pea Curry with Okra Rice:
Lamb Curry is a very common dish in Jamaica . It was influenced by the East Indian settlers. The Okra rice is a side dish brought to the islands by the African slaves.
Macaroni and Cheese:
The Barbados Islanders call this their favorite. Usually comes as an accompaniment to the main dish.
Cassava and Peanut Curry with Dhal Roti:
This South American influenced dish is usually cooked with potatoes and ground peanuts. This peanut butter and cassava root stew was a variation. The Dhal Roti is a traditional favorite of the Caribbean people.
Dessert: Warm Pineapple Upside-down Cake with Coconut Ice Cream
This is an all time favorite of many people. My secret to a great cake is using pineapple juice instead of water to bind the ingredients.