Caribbean Island Foods You Need to Try ASAP


he Crafted team is super excited to be working on building a new community: The Caribbean Cooking Community! The Caribbean culture is diverse and full of delicious dishes that hold lots of sentimental value. Many of these dishes can be traced far back in history. Several originated during slavery when resources were low and meals needed to be as filling as possible. Now, these recipes have been passed down and are staples within the Caribbean community. Of course they have been modified, built upon, and perfected. This rich history and culture is the reason why it is so important to discuss food in the Caribbean when exploring cultural foods. 

Popular Caribbean Ingredients

Part of the robust flavor that comes with Caribbean cooking can be attributed to some key ingredients in dishes. A lot of Caribbean spices are essential to making comfort food taste comforting! Stock up on these ingredients if you want to start cooking up some island foods.

  • Allspice
  • Nutmeg
  • Ginger
  • Cinnamon
  • Thyme
  • Scotch Bonnet Peppers*

*Scotch Bonnet Peppers are extremely spicy. A lot of people know Jamaican food for being very spicy, and these peppers are responsible for it. For example, Jerk Chicken, a very popular Jamaican meal, is known for being spicy. This is because scotch bonnet peppers/flakes are added. They give the perfect amount of spiciness while blending perfectly with the flavors of the other ingredients. 

Island Cuisine That Deserves Hype 

Of course all food deserves to be tasted, but we really want to highlight the wonderful national dishes from several islands in the Caribbean. This is only scratching the surface, and we are excited to continue writing more about this vibrant cuisine. Here are six national dishes from different parts of the Caribbean. Keep in mind that this does not mean that these are the most popular or well known dishes, so do not expect to see Jerk Chicken as the national dish of Jamaica. We’ll save those meals for future blog posts, so keep your eyes peeled! 

Jamaican Ackee and Saltfish

Do not be fooled by the look of this dish. That is not scrambled eggs with vegetables, though it really does look like it. The yellow scramble you are seeing is actually Ackee, which is a fruit. There’s also chunks of saltfish and veggies mixed in. If you want to try cooking the Jamaican National Dish, you need to try out this recipe from Amazing Ackee

Antiguan Fungee and Pepperpot

With a cooking time of over 2 hours, this dish is time consuming, but definitely worth it. Fungee is most easily comparable to polenta, as they are both made from cornmeal. Pepperpot is a meat stew that is also the Guyanese national dish. Try out this recipe from Jirie Caribbean if you want to take a stab at it.  

Cuban Ropa Vieja

This is another dish that takes several hours to cook to perfection, but just take a look at how amazing it appears. Ropa Vieja translates directly to old clothes, which is said to be because of the shredded appearance of the meat in the dish, as well as the many colors from the different vegetables. This features meat and vegetables mixed together with stew. This recipe from Familia Kitchen is the perfect authentic recipe to follow for your first time making Ropa Vieja.  

Dominican ‘La Bandera’

The name of this dish translates to “The Dominican Flag.” This is a popular meal to enjoy in the Dominican Republic during lunchtime. The essentials of this drink are beans, rice, and meat. Many dishes in the Dominican Republic are also served with avocado and other vegetables on the side. Interested? Try out this recipe from Dominican Cooking if you want to give this national dish a try!  

Aruban Keshi Yena

Keshi Yena is a dish full of cheese, rice, meat, and vegetables. Different cheeses and ingredients can be added based on the preferences of who will be enjoying the meal. This can even be served with no cheese, since the spices, vegetables, and meat will bring enough flavor and texture. If you want to try this delicious (and cheesy) dish, this recipe from Spice Breeze is the perfect one to follow.  

Puerto Rican Arroz con Gandules

Arroz con Gandules is a classic dish that is enjoyed by people of all different backgrounds. It also happens to be the national dish of Puerto Rico. Gandules are Pigeon Peas, and Arroz translates to rice. The flavor in this dish comes from the spices, tomato sauce, and olives that are added. Give this classic dish a try with this recipe from Kitchen de Lujo.  

A Community for Everyone

Are you hungry yet? Here at Crafted we offer the one-of-a-kind opportunity to cook along in real time with professional chefs and other foodies. You can also share recipes and tips for cooking your favorite meals! 

After looking at all of these delicious dishes, surely you must be intrigued (or at least hungry for more). There are so many different parts of the world that have such wonderful foods that represent culture and community. Our Indian Cooking Community is thriving, which is unsurprising considering how delicious the food is and how wonderful the Indian culture is. We are so excited to spend time working with chefs from both parts of the world to give Crafted users the opportunity to share and learn as much as possible — from every culture, diet, mission, and geography.

If you are interested in suggesting more communities, or have any questions about joining, reach out! We would love to hear from you and learn more about your culture. If you want to be the first to hear when the Caribbean Cooking Community launches, sign up for our newsletter and our waitlist! Also be sure to follow us on Instagram @cookwithcrafted for updates and more fun foodie content.

May 19, 2022

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