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Jamaican food. 

The Jamaican motto, Out of Many, One People, applies to its food too.  Any bite of Jamaican food is a flavourful bite into a story full of tumult, violence, joy, love, and hope.  A story full of Indigenous people, slaves, rebellions, colonists, pirates, travellers, fortune hunters, drugs, music, and the vibrancy of life. 

As with its people, Jamaican flavours, ingredients and cooking styles have influences from Africa, the Mediterranean, India, Asia, and the Pacific.

Some of the key cultures whose mark remains indelible within Jamaican Cuisine are:

Arawak Indians – the indigenous people of the islands

Africans – arriving as slaves.

Spanish & English – arriving as slave masters.

Southern Indians – arriving as indentured labour.

Chinese – Arriving as traders.



Perhaps the last whisper of the Arawak Indians on earth, lies here.  Pushed up into the heights of the Blue Mountains by the rampaging colonists and their diseases, the indigenous Jamaicans remained in the dense jungles far longer than in the over run and violent plains and coastal regions. 

Following the infamous slave rebellion, the Maroons too retreated into the safety of the Blue Mountains, and the mixing of these two peoples and cultures is perhaps the start of what we call Jamaican culture today.  The jerk flavour is the product of the mixing of the styles of cooking both brought to their Blue Mountain hideouts.

While any visitor to Jamaica sees oil drums cooking Jerk everywhere on the island, it is when you travel to the foot of the Blue Mountains that you can experience the flavour in all its glory.  If you head to Boston at the foot of the Blue Mountains, you can smell the Jerk pits long before you see them.  The aromatic smoke of the pimento, the herbs and the spices that form the essence of the Jerk flavour rises from the enormous open air smoke pits and by the time you are ordering, your mouth is watering. 

It is this flavour that Steff has sought to capture in the Jerk marinade that we serve at Mama Blu.  You can try it as it is traditionally served as Jerk Chicken or Jerk Pork, or try it as Jerk Mushrooms or Jerk Lamb, both of which work wonderfully.

If you want to try it at home, you can buy our marinade here





 Ackee & Saltfish

Captain Bligh brought Ackee to Jamaica from West Africa.  The ackee tree is big and shady, the fruit is encased in a hard red pod and the Ackee that we eat is the yellowish flesh that surrounds the numerous seeds inside the pod.  It is unusual and if handled incorrectly it can be poisonous.  Jamaica is the only place where Ackee is widely eaten, and one of Ackee’s many names is Free Food as it grows freely on the island.  The fruit has a beautiful texture but is largely tasteless.

Saltfish arrived in Jamaica from the Mediterranean.  Dried and salted fish is present throughout the world, in the Jamaican method it is so typically Mediterranean it could only have arrived from one source – the first Colonists of Jamaica, the Spanish.  Salt Cod or Bacalao is typical in Spanish, Portuguese and Italian food and giving it to the slaves as a form of protein would have been obvious.  While very nutritious its flavour is very strong.

What to do with Ackee?  While having a superb texture, it was unloved in its native West Africa, yet it grew freely in Jamaica and to starving slaves, the idea of Free Food was too hard to resist.  The question was resolved by combining Ackee with Saltfish, and some herbs and spices.  This has produced a beloved and unique dish.  In Jamaica Ackee and Saltfish is breakfast, but the flavours are so superb, that it stands up as a dinner entrée at Mama Blu’s.

They can be hard to get in Australia, so if you are hunting some you can buy Ackee tins here








Curry Goat

The Indian, or more specifically the Southern Indian/Sri Lankan influence on Jamaican food is especially strong in this classic dish.  The spice mix for the Jamaican curry powder contains the same ingredients as some Southern Indian/Sri Lankan curry powders, but in true Jamaican fashion the mixture has been mixed up and the unique flavour of the Jamaican Curry stands proudly alongside its more recognised cousins from the subcontinent.

Steff mixes her own spices to bring out the beauty of the flavour in her sensational Curry. 

You can buy the curry powder in our online store or when you come in for dinner.  The recipe comes with it.






Rice and Peas

Many of the Caribbean islands have their own style of cooking rice with beans.  In Jamaica the rice is cooked with kidney beans, thyme, a little chilli, and coconut milk.  Many people ask, why is it called Rice ‘n Peas if it is really rice with kidney beans? Once you’ve spent some time in Jamaica you will know.

Please see a recipe for Rice ‘n Peas here







Stamp and Go

Stamp and Go, or Saltfish fritters are pictured on the left below.  There are lots of theories as to reason for the name, stamp and go, but the one I like the most is that buses would pull up to a station and the travellers would stamp off the bus, buy their fritters, and then get back on the bus and go. 











Callaloo is an indigenous green leafy plant, similar to spinach or Bok Choy.  In the picture above, the fritters to the right are callaloo fritters.




Plantains are enjoyed throughout the tropical world. They are a banana, best eaten cooked, and its flavour and texture range is between a potato and banana. As Plantains ripen, their flavour changes.  Whilst green they are more potato like, and when yellow more banana like.


Beef Patties

Besides being delicious the creation of the Beef Pattie reflects so many cultures, they are somewhat like an empanada, somewhat like an English pasty.  The pastry is a rough puff pastry, so the pastry’s origins are French, but the pastry is flavoured with and has the unique colour of turmeric.  The meat is cooked with Jamaican curry spices.



The story of Rum is too long to tell here but suffice to say that the slave trade was driven by the mass production of sugar, which was Europe’s first modern drug addiction.  The sugar trade had a massive impact on the world; and the Caribbean was the centre of sugar production.  The British Navy found that cognac spoiled in its barrels, but Rum didn’t, and so Rum became the Navy’s drink of choice.

Appleton and Mount Gay are two of the distilleries still operating from the early days of the Caribbean's colonisation and you can taste their rum at Mama Blu’s Kitchen amongst others from the various islands and from the various distilling types.





















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