Celebrate the Caribbean carnival with 5 delicious islander recipes

Celebrate the Caribbean carnival with 5 delicious islander recipes

With spring just around the corner, so comes the rise of carnival season. 

Across numerous islands, different nations from all parts of the Caribbean celebrate their carnivals in their own unique ways, including their distinct cultural arts and traditions. 

In fact, Caribbean islands gain mass tourist attraction from their annual carnival events. And one of the most popular things to do during these festivals besides dancing, socializing and playing music is eating good food. 

So, what better way to commemorate the Caribbean than to try these inspired, low-waste renditions of traditional recipes for a taste of something new? That’s where we come in.

Keep on reading for a simplified guide on recipes from the upcoming carnivals these following months, from early spring all the way to late summer. 

Bacchanal (Jamaica)

Late March/early April 

Sweet Jamaican Festival dumplings 


  • 2 cups flour 
  • ½ cup fine cornmeal 
  • ½ tsp salt 
  • 4 tbsps brown sugar
  • ½ tsp baking powder 
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract/pods 
  • Dash of milk or water
  • 3 cups cooking oil 


  1. Add your dry ingredients to a mixing bowl to combine them 
  2. Once combined, gradually add in the vanilla and milk as you knead the dough
  3. Add the oil to a deep fryer on medium heat
  4. Once the oil is sizzling hot, divide the dough in 8 equal portions by rolling them in the palm of your hands into an oval shape
  5. Place the dough in to fry one at a time and turn the dumplings around until they are golden brown (make sure to reduce heat as you keep frying to prevent them from burning) 
  6. Serve hot and enjoy! 

Batabano (Cayman Islands) 

Late April/early May

Decadent Cayman Cassava cake 


  • 1360g grated cassava
  • 900g light brown sugar
  • 2 cans coconut milk
  • 2 tbsps vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp (Cayman) sea salt
  • ½ tsp nutmeg
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • ½ tsp cloves
  • 1 stick butter or margarine, melted
  • 4 tsps cornstarch 


  1. Preheat oven to 350°F
  2. In a large mixing bowl, add the cassava then stir in the coconut milk and vanilla
  3. Once mixed, add the brown sugar, salt, cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg
  4. Stir well until all ingredients are well combined
  5. In a small container, add cornstarch with a bit of water to activate, then shake well and add to mixing bowl 
  6. Add in melted butter and mix thoroughly 
  7. Lightly butter your baking tin and pour the mixture in, bake for about an hour or until cake is firm and golden brown 
  8. Serve immediately or at room temperature. Go ahead and indulge!

Guyana Independence (Guyana)


Mouthwatering gravy infused Pepperpot 


  • 2-3 tbsps groundnut oil (or sunflower oil) 
  • 450g pork shoulder chops, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 450g stewing beef, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 3 pigs trotters, chopped into large chunks 
  • 150ml cassareep (or mix 1/3 cup molasses, 1 tbsp soy sauce, and 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce) 
  • 1 large cinnamon stick, broken in half
  • 4 tbsps sugar
  • 2 tsps West Indian pepper sauce (or any chili sauce)
  • 2 Scotch bonnet chilis, halved, seeded and thinly sliced, with extra for garnish (any spicy peppers or chilis suffice) 
  • 12 cloves
  • Pinch of salt and pepper, to taste


  1. Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat and brown the pork, beef and trotters on all sides 
  2. Return all meat to saucepan and season with cinnamon cloves, salt and pepper
  3. Add water and cover with lid, bring to boil then let simmer for 1 hour 
  4. Add the cassareep, sugar, pepper sauce and chilis then bring back to boil
  5. Once water is boiled, bring down head and let simmer for an additional 2 hours 
  6. When meat is tender and gravy is thick, dark and glossy, remove from heat
  7. Garnish with more chilis and serve with warm bread or rice. Bon appetite! 

Saint John

Late June/early July

Savoury Virgin Islands pates


  • 4 cups flour
  • 2 tsps salt 
  • 2 tsps sugar
  • 2 tsps baking powder
  • ½ cup shortening, cold
  • 1 cup cold water plus 2 tbsps, divided
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 stalk celery, chopped
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • Pinch of salt, to taste
  • 1 tsp dried oregano (or fresh) 
  • 1 tsp dried parsley (or fresh) 
  • 1 tsp dried thyme (or fresh) 
  • 2 tbsps tomato paste
  • ½ scotch bonnet pepper, minced (or any spicy pepper) 
  • 455g ground beef
  • 4 cups neutral cooking oil, for frying 


Phase 1

  1. In a large bowl, mix flour, salt, baking powder and sugar
  2. Add the cold shortening and water, mix until evenly incorporated with a crumbly texture
  3. Transfer the dough on a flat surface and knead the dough, approx 1-minute
  4. Wrap dough in plastic wrap and let it rest for 1-hour at room temp 
  5. Heat skillet on medium high with 2 tbsps olive oil 
  6. Add in the onions, bell peppers, celery, garlic, salt, pepper, herbs and pepper
  7. Cook until vegetables are soft and slightly caramelized, approx 10 mins 
  8. Add the tomato paste and cook until mixture is aromatic, approx 5 mins
  9. Add the ground beef, cook until meat browns, approx 15 mins, then remove from heat and set aside 

Phase 2

  1. Unwrap rested dough, roll it out on flat surface with a height of approx 3mm, then use an inverted 6-inch wide bowl and cut out circles of the dough 
  2. Take dough circle and place ½ cup of filling into the center, leaving around 1½ inches of room around the edges 
  3. Dip your fingers in water so the dough doesn’t stick to them, then brush edges
  4. Fold the dough over the filling to meet the opposite end and press ends together, forming a half-moon shape 
  5. Firmly press down the two edges to unify, then press around edges with a fork for the crust, making sure the pastry is completely sealed

Phase 3

  1. Preheat fryer oil to 350°F on high heat, once heated place the pates to deep fry one at a time, approx 5 minutes or until golden brown
  2. Remove from fryer and drain excess oil
  3. Serve hot and treat yourself! 

Saint Lucia

The month of July 

Traditional green fig and saltfish plate 


  • 900g green bananas (or plantains) 
  • 450g salted cod 
  • 1 onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 3 pickled peppers, thinly sliced
  • ¼ cabbage, shredded (optional) 
  • 2 tomatoes, diced
  • 2 sprigs thyme, chopped (or dried) 
  • 3 tbsps fresh parsley, chopped (or dried) 
  • 2 tbsps vegetable oil (or any neutral cooking oil) 
  • Pinch of salt and pepper, to taste 


Phase 1 

  1. Place salted cod in a cold bowl of water and refrigerate for min 12 hours, swapping the water 2-3 times in the process 
  2. Cut the ends of each banana and discard scraps 
  3. Make a shallow cut down the length of the 2 bananas 
  4. Place bananas in a deep dish pan, add water, cover lid and bring to a boil 
  5. Turn down the heat to low and let simmer, approx 20 mins 
  6. Drain the pan and let the bananas cool down 
  7. In the meantime, remove cod from the fridge and drain the water 
  8. Place in a pot, cover with the lid and boil them, approx 25 mins 
  9. Once boiled, rinse the fish with cold water and drain 

Phase 2 

  1.  Crumble the codfish, remove its bones if any 
  2.  Heat cooking oil in the deep dish pan over medium heat 
  3. Add the cod, then lower the heat and sauté, approx 5 mins 
  4. Add onion, garlic, peppers, black pepper and thyme, then cook, approx 3-4 mins 
  5. If desired, add the shredded cabbage and stir well
  6. Peel the bananas, cut them into 1-inch diagonal pieces and sprinkle with salt
  7. Add bananas to the cod mixture, mix well so all ingredients are combined and flavours disperse evenly
  8. Cook the mixture for 5 mins, then add your tomatoes and parsley and stir again
  9. Cover the lid and turn off the heat, let sit for 5 mins 
  10.  Serve hot and savour! 

Did you know? 

Fun facts about the Caribbean carnivals 

Bacchanal Carnival (Jamaica)

Jamaica’s carnival history dates back to 1783, being the first one to kickstart the carnival tradition in the Caribbean. 

Batabano Carnival (Cayman Islands) 

Batabano is one of the most recent carnivals celebrated in the Caribbean, with the word speculated to indicate the growth of generation over the years. 

Grand Parade (Guyana)

Guyana’s Grand Parade is one of the most sought-after and anticipated carnival events to visit during the season. 

Saint John Carnival

The St. John Festival is actually celebrated twice on this Virgin Island. Once on Emancipation Day to commemorate the abolition of slavery and again for the 4th of July.

Saint Lucia Carnival

In 1947, a small group of Saint Lucians dressed in ragged clothes and played music with bottles and steel through the Castries–an event kickstarter for carnival tradition on the island!

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