10 Authentic Bajan Dishes to Enjoy in Barbados
While sun, sea and sand are some of the main reasons people choose a holiday in Barbados, when they return home, one of their chief memories will be of the food. You wouldn’t expect an island smaller than the Isle of Man to have such a high culinary reputation, however, it’s unique location, history and culture have forged together to produce a whole range of delicious Bajan dishes for visitors to experience. Here are some you shouldn’t miss.
1. Flying fish and cou cou
The Bajan equivalent of the Sunday roast, flying fish and cou cou is the national dish of Barbados and something you have to experience during your visit. The flying fish, which is caught locally in the warm Caribbean waters, is seasoned using traditional Bajan herbs and spices and either fried or steamed in a rich gravy. It is served together with cou cou, which is made from cornmeal and okra.
2. Pudding and Souse
Despite its name, pudding and souse is a savoury soul-food dish, not a dessert. Traditionally eaten on Saturdays, this dish is a must for lovers of all things pork. The souse is usually made from the cheaper cuts of meat, like the tongue, snout and ears, which are cooked and pickled with onions, cucumber, sweet pepper and parsley. The pudding is made from mashed sweet potatoes seasoned with Bajan spices and, like a British sausage, stuffed into pig intestines before being steamed.
Conkies are a sweet but healthy Bajan favourite made from corn flour, coconut, raisins and pumpkins together with cane sugar and delicious spices. This tempting mixture is then wrapped in banana leaf and steamed. Simply unwrap and enjoy.
In colonial times, Conkies were eaten as part of the Bonfire Night celebrations on November 5th, since independence from the UK, they have become part of Barbados’ Independence Day celebrations, on November 30th. They are, luckily, available throughout the year.
4. Black Cake
Barbados is renowned for its exceptional rum and besides being the island’s favourite tipple, it’s also a regular ingredient in its cooking. One particular dessert you have to try while on holiday on the island is Black Cake, which is a traditional cake baked with dried cherries, prunes and raisins and the obligatory dash or two of finest rum.
5. Fishcakes and Bakes
Very popular and available throughout Barbados, the legendary Bajan Fishcake is a different take on the ones you get in the traditional fish shop. The main difference is that the batter is made using herbs and spices which gives the deep-fried cod fishcake its unique taste and aroma.
Bajan Fishcakes are often served with bakes, a form of bread that is made from frying flour, salt and water. Many Barbadians like to spice up the dish by dipping it in hot pepper sauce.
Perfect for when you’re after a light meal or an afternoon snack, a cutter is a Barbadian sandwich. What makes it different to a normal sandwich, however, is that it made using fresh salt breads, which are a staple on the island. Like any sandwich, they can be filled with ingredients such as ham, cheese or egg and garnished with salad. What gives them their distinctive flavour, though, is the heavenly dollop of Bajan pepper sauce.
7. Bajan Macaroni Pie
Ask for a pie anywhere else and you’ll be asked what kind of pie you want. Not so in Barbados, over here, pie means one thing: Bajan macaroni pie. This highly popular dish is cooked in every home and is widely available in food stores.
Pie is made with macaroni, cheese, onion, herbs and spices, together with ketchup. Some recipes also include mayonnaise or mustard. The ingredients are sprinkled with breadcrumbs and oven baked. It’s often used as a side dish to go with fish or chicken.
8. Jug Jug
Another traditional Bajan dish, popular with the island’s older generations, Jug Jug is a casserole made from pork and beef together with pigeon peas, corn, onions, hot peppers and thyme, stewed in a stock made from boiled meat, bones, herbs and spices.
Traditionally, jug jug is a Christmas dish, usually served with ham. However, there are plenty of places where you can sample it warming flavours all year around.
9. Sea Eggs
Sea eggs are a true Barbadian delicacy. They are not actually eggs, but sea urchins, one of the many species which live in the waters around the island. Due to conservation requirements, fresh sea eggs are not available all year round, however, when they are, you’ll see local divers collecting them from the sea floor. Like many delicacies, sea eggs are an acquired taste and can be stewed or fried. If you’re a real foodie, you can also try them raw.
10. Pig Tails
If you are looking for highly-satisfying, hearty, street food then pig tails are a must. As you can guess from the name, they are made from the meaty part of a pig’s tail which is salted and barbecued. They can be eaten as they are or served with rice and peas. You’ll find them all over the island, especially at street vendors and festivals.
If you are visiting Barbados, make the most of your holiday by sampling some of these delicious foods. Only on the island can you enjoy these dishes cooked and served in a truly authentic Bajan way.