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Set Your Palate on Fire with West Indies Cuisine

Featured image for Set Your Palate on Fire with West Indies Cuisine" blog post. Jamaican ribs.

What’s your spice level? Keep a glass of milk by your side or tone down the heat, but don’t skip on trying some of these amazing West Indies food recipes. West Indies cuisine combines a mixture of heritage and a variety of flavors, from Portuguese to Creole, from Cajun to British, and passing through neighborly Latin American wonders. Take a look at the cultural recipes below and challenge your taste buds to explore these different popular fiery Caribbean foods from the West Indies cuisine!

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West Indies Cuisine Classics

Tostones

Ingredients

Salt
Olive oil
Plantains
Cilantro leaves
Milk
Low-fat sour cream
Black pepper
Hot sauce

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Prep

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Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F. Peel three plantains and trim their endings. Slice them into, let’s say, 12 pieces. Transfer the plantains to a large bowl, add two tablespoons of olive oil and a pinch of salt. Lay down the slices on a baking sheet lined with nonstick foil. Bake the plantains for 15 minutes. Use a glass to press down each slice. You won’t be smashing the plantains, just gently crush them. Lightly coat the slice with cooking spray and add another pinch of salt.

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Bake for another five minutes or until they have become very crispy. In the meantime, use a blender for the dipping sauce, add ½ cup of cilantro leaves with two tablespoons of milk, ½ cup of sour cream, ½ teaspoon of hot sauce, a pinch of salt, another pinch of black pepper. Blend until the sauce is smooth. Serve the tostones warm with your blended cilantro sauce as a delicious traditional West Indies side dish. Voila! You just executed some very easy West Indian island cooking right in the comfort of your home. Now let’s level up to another delightful recipe!

Jamaican Ribs

Stainless steel scrubber 4.

Ingredients

Onion
Garlic
Bone-in pork ribs
Green pepper
Pineapple chunks
All-purpose flour
Jerk seasoning
Black beans
Scallions
Brown rice

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Prep

Slice one large onion, four scallions, and four cloves of garlic for this Jamaican cuisine classic. Do the same to the pineapples slices, but reserve the juice. Seed and slice one large green pepper. Cook the brown rice however you wish. Rice is really not the star of the dish, just don’t mess it up. Now, for the ribs, you need to find a slow cooker. You will coat it with cooking spray, and lay the onion and garlic slices in the bottom.

Generously season your ribs with jerk seasoning (it is best to apply one tablespoon of seasoning per three pounds of ribs), add them to the slow cookers and cover them with the drained pineapple slices. Add the green pepper. Now, mix one tablespoon of all-purpose flour with the pineapple juice and one tablespoon of jerk seasoning. Pour it all over the ribs.

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Well, now begins the long wait. But it will be worth it! You can set the slow cooker on high, duration = six hours, or low, duration = eight hours. In the last thirty minutes, you should cook the rice, grab one can of black beans (rinse and drain it) and add it to the slow cooker. Some West Indies cuisine meals take time, but you will have no regrets with this unique national specialty!

Goat Curry

Ingredients

Onion
Ginger
Garlic
Vegetable oil
Curry leaves
Thyme
Scotch bonnet chilies
Curry powder (mild, if you have a choice)
Mutton or goat shoulder meat
Tomato
Beef stock
Lemon
Coriander
Flatbread (ideally, the Jamaican version, roti) and/or cooked rice
Kidney, pinto or black-eyed beans

Fresh West Indies cuisine curry in bowls.
Fresh West Indies cuisine curry.

Prep

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Using a food processor, blend one large onion, three and a half ounces of ginger and ten cloves of garlic (haha, yes, TEN! You better love garlic) into a puree. Move the puree to a flameproof casserole dish and cook for five minutes. Add a handful of curry leaves, four tablespoons of curry powder, two teaspoons of salt, a few thyme sprigs, and two chopped scotch bonnet chilies (or whatever chili pepper you were able to find, I am not going to hold you accountable for authenticity if you are brave enough to cook goat curry, I’m proud of you for trying!). Keep cooking for another two to three minutes. Dice one and half pounds of goat or mutton.

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Add it to the pan, set the heat to medium-high (we are really being adventurous here) and cook for five minutes or until it has browned. Add two chopped tomatoes and ten ounces of beef stock. Turn up the heat to high! It’s got to boil and it should cook for another ten minutes. Okay, now lower the heat, cover it and let it simmer for two and half hours.

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When you get to two hours of waiting, remove the lid for the remaining cooking time. Add the beans before you remove the casserole from the fire, so they can get heated inside the curry and taste it. Can you handle more chili? Add more chili. Let it simmer for another five minutes and turn off the heat. Add some chopped coriander and the juice of half a lemon. Serve this West Indies cuisine soul food classic with the flatbread and some rice. You’re welcome!