Who needs meat in Jamaica when its gorgeous spicy vegetarian cuisine is one of the most varied in the world, with rich tropical curry, sweet and sour flavours fusing together to reveal Jamaica’s unique ethnic mix.
The African, Indian, Chinese, Portuguese Jewish, Syrian, Lebanese, German and English cuisines afforded each newly arrived hungry immigrant to Jamaica’s shores a common comfort from their respective ‘cucina povera’ (kitchens of the poor), a glorious carbohydrate staple that would quickly be embraced to become pillars of Jamaican cuisine.
We are not suggesting to ignore completely your modern high protein diets whilst sampling Jamaican cuisine but go with the flow and embrace the cultural history of Jamaica by tasting locally grown pulses that are mixed with the freshest vegetables, fruits and world’s spices served with their traditional tasty bedfellows which when eaten together is guaranteed to stop snacking in its tracks.
If you love spicy filled wraps and burritos you’ll adore Jamaica’s most popular vegetarian snack, a stuffed warm roti. Our favourite fillings are perhaps the simplest, some zesty but smoky jerk vegetables and plantain, or a beautiful sweet pumpkin and pimento curry.
Rice and peas is every Jamaican’s favourite one pot wonder, it’s incredibly simple fare but incredibly satisfying from the infused medley of pigeon peas, coconut milk scallion, garlic and thyme, scotch bonnet chili, bay leaves and spring onions that each family adds to the mix. Look out for Rastafarian style I-tal pumpkin rice with spiced red peas (red kidney beans) or some pineapple barbecued tofu.
Bammy makes a wonderful bread like alternative using grated cassava that is submerged in coconut milk before it is steamed or fried to a crisp. Try it with a spiced corn soup or callaloo soup made with Jamaica’s less muddy flavoured spinach cousin and okra, black beans, sweet potato and pepper or an intoxicating vegan Rastafarian Ital soup made with assorted Jamaican vegetables cooked in an unprocessed coconut broth and thick enough to be called a stew.
These gorgeous lightly fried maize fritters with a hint of nutmeg are full of flavour without being too heavy, their slight sweetness offsets the spiciest curry or are a great comfort food served with something simple like a mango coleslaw. If you eat cheese try our Cheese & Pimento festival recipe at home!
Spinners are small thin dumplings that soak up the spicey flavours of the stew like dishes they cook in. Named from the way they are made with the hands, spinners are particularly good in a I-tal yam and okra stew or spiced squash stewy soup.
Mille Fleurs was the first Jamaican restaurant to offer Meatless Mondays, and vegetarians and vegans are offered an inspired alternative menu each evening.