Today we headed back to our home town of Huddersfield for the annual Caribbean carnival. After enjoying the colourful parade through the town centre we made our way to Greenhead Park where there are stalls full of West Indian food. As the sounds of soca and reggae filled the air, thousands poured into the park, bouyed by the appropriately hot weather. Smoke from the jerk barbecues drifted through the sunlight and we couldn’t wait to get started on the food.
First up was a Jamaican patty, soft pastry full of spiced ground beef, the shell coloured yellow with turmeric. These are a real example of how cultures combined in Jamaica to create distinctive flavours. They are thought to result from colonial times, when the British pasty was combined with spices brought by the Indian servants, and hot chillies favoured by the ancestors of African slaves.
The scotch bonnet chilli features in other famous Jamaican dishes, such as the subtle heat in salt fish and ackee, or the more fiery heat of jerk chicken, both of which we enjoyed today.
Salt fish is typically served with ackee, a yellow fleshed fruit that was brought to Jamaica from West Africa in the 18th century. It is treated as a vegetable and looks a lot like scrambled egg when cooked. A tinned version can be brought in the UK for anyone wishing to try the dish at home.
The jerk chicken was perfectly seasoned and served with a sweet sticky sauce and the infamous ‘rice and peas’. The rice is simmered with coconut milk, thyme and whole scotch bonnets with the ‘peas’ being red kidney beans, this all gives the rice is deep flavour.
After all that we settled down with a bag of freshly chopped sugar cane to chew on whilst we watched the costumed performers on the main stage. Men with machetes deftly chopped the cane into strips whilst others sliced into coconuts and juicy mangoes.
Depite the popularity of Levi Roots and his ReggaeReggae sauce, we feel Caribbean food is still vastly underrated, and so it’s with renewed enthusiasm that i’ll dig out my old Caribbean cookbook, who’s for some curried goat?