The Caribbean cuisine is composed of a multitude of elements, each brought in by the people that came to settle in the area over time. So, we can say that the present cuisine in this part of the world is actually made of many influenced that merged together to create the exotic and authentic Caribbean cuisine.
The Arawaks, the first people to live in the area, brought the habit of barbecuing meat. Due to the Caribs, another early population, chili ended up being used as well, together with other spices brought in by this population. The Europeans, who made colonies in the area, introduced the chicken, pig, onion, garlic, rice, and oranges, in the local recipes.

The Africans, who came in as slaves to work on sugar cane fields, brought with them the pigeon peas, taro root, plantains, and okra. The Chinese and Asian Indians introduced the cooking style with the wok and the preparation of curies. Other influences come from Mexico and Central America, due to their proximity, which can also be found in the local cuisine.


 Caribbean Cuisine Menu


• Breakfast

Breakfast in the Caribbean is as exotic as the place itself. You will find bananas and pineapple cooked and added to the recipe. Fish can also be a part of the breakfast, as it makes it more filling for your stomach. Salted or fresh fish is used, according to the recipe. Eggs are also highly appreciated in the morning, fried or as omelets. Pancakes, various types of bread, sweet, with nuts, or just plain, turkey burgers, or even fruits salads are appreciated here in the morning. Refreshing fruits juices or coffee may also accompany the breakfast.

• Lunch

In the Caribbean, the lunch can be served starting with 11 a.m. to 2.30 p.m., according to the schedule of each. Soups can be served, although they are not a constant presence in the lunch menu, and they are rather thick. The dishes for lunch are more often served with sauces, like cranberry or red pepper sauce. Rice is often served, with fried chicken, peas, peppers, onions, and spiced with saffron, or other preferred spices. Besides chicken, fish and seafood can also be a part of the lunch meal, which can also be served with rice, pasta, or with vegetable curry.


• Snacks

You will have plenty of options when you wish to have a bite on the go in the Caribbean. Popular snacks include the cassava cakes. They are used using cassava flour to make the dough, which is filled with various ingredients, from sweet bananas or chocolate chips, to savory types, like salty fish, and backed. Ice cream is another preferred snack, due to the high temperatures in the area. You can find exotic assortments like chocolate and orange, sugar cane flavor, and rum and banana. And you can also try the patties, the Caribbean version of burger, being a fried dough pocket, filled with meat, fish, seafood, or even veggies, and packed in a brown paper so that it can be enjoyed on the go.

• Dinner

Dinner is pretty much the same with lunch, although some beverages may accompany this last meal of the day. Pork, beef, fish, or chicken can also be present on the dish, accompanied by rice, bean curry, sweet potatoes, and even fruits like mango or pineapple, which give the dish a sweet-sour exotic taste. The goat stew or curry is quite popular in the Caribbean, being one famous dish in this area. Slow cooked with a wide array of spices, for tenderness and an incredible taste, containing onions, garlic, chili, curry leaves, curry powder, thyme, tomatoes, beans, lemon, and coriander, will produce an explosion of taste in your mouth.

• Desserts

You will love the desserts in the Caribbean. Make sure you try the prune flan, a soft, full of sweet syrup and fruits dessert. The rice pudding, made with milk and a sprinkle of cinnamon will also make your day. Bread pudding, coconut pulp soaked in syrup, mango marmalade, coconut macaroon, and sweet beans, a soft paste made from boiled beans, with sugar and various flavors, are also a part of the desserts prepared in this area.

• Drinks

When it comes to the Caribbean, the drinks are exotic as well. A wide range of fruity cocktails, with alcohol or without it, are served. Smoothies that contain exotic fruits are also appreciated, especially in the morning or at noon, as a refreshing drink. Rum punches and rum cocktails are very popular, to which various other ingredients are added, according to the recipe. You may also want to try the traditional Caribbean sorrel drink, which is a sweet-sour non-alcoholic drink. It is made with sorrel flowers, ginger, cloves, cinnamon, water and sugar.


  Holiday Menu

• Christmas

The Christmas menu in the Caribbean contains a lot of food, like appetizers, the main dishes and dessert. As appetizers, beef patties, salt cod fritters, fried plantains with garlic or cilantro sauce, and ginger cocktails are served. As main dishes, you will find grilled lamb, fish, coconut and lime rice, sweet plantains, and pigeon peas. And, for dessert, rum cake and coconut cookies will end the Christmas evening.

• Easter

During Good Friday, no one in the Caribbean will serve red meat, just fish and vegetables. Once the Easter arrive, the Easter bun and cheese is one of the main served dishes. It is a specially made bun, spiced with cloves, cinnamon and nutmeg, to which dried fruits are added, and served with cheese. Fish is also common during Easter, being served with sweet bananas, or marinated in peppers and other veggies.

 Most Popular Dishes


• Roast pork – server with rice, beans, and plantains, this type of roast is very much appreciated;
• Conch – a large sea snail, just like a large clam, which is served as delicious fritters, but also served in soups, salads, and stews;
• Pepperpot – a thick stew made with okra, aubergine, potatoes, squash, and every other veggie that comes in hand, together with beef and cornmeal dumplings, which complete this dish;
• Chicken with rice – other ingredients include tomato, pepper, garlic, and other, according to recipe. The rice is backed until the flavor of the chicken can be felt right.
• Goat stew – as mentioned before, this is an excellent dish here, made from goat or mutton, with an array of veggies and spices.

  Most Used Ingredients:


Meat / Fish: chicken, beef, pork, fish, seafood;
Veggies: peppers, tomatoes, potatoes, onion, garlic, squash, cassava;
Fruits: mango, pineapple, coconut, lime, oranges.
Others: chili, beans, rice, maize, cloves, cinnamon.


 Caribbean Street Food – What to eat when visiting the Caribbean

One thing is for sure, and that is that you won’t feel hungry while walking on the streets of the Caribbean. If you want something light, make sure to try the delicious conch salad, which is a tangy salad made with raw conch, onions, and green peppers. Doubles are another type of snack, very popular in the Caribbean, which consists in rounds of fried dough, filled with spicy curried chickpeas or channa, to which cucumber slaw, mango chutney or a cilantro-based sauce can be added. Be careful because you will serve this by hand, so it can get pretty messy, but also it is very delicious.


Are you from Caribbean? Maybe you visited there? Please feel free to comment and add your own thoughts on Caribbean ethnic food.

Carlene Evett