The Jamaican Melting Pot – Out Of Many, One Cuisine

African heritage

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The first Africans arrived in Jamaica in 1513 as servants to the Spanish settlers. These Africans were freed by the Spanish when the English captured the island in 1655. They immediately fled to the mountains where they fought to retain their freedom and became the first Maroons. With the advent of the Sugar Revolution, there was an acute labour shortage. This need was met by large scale importation of enslaved Africans.

Okra Gumbo

  • 2 cups okras, chopped
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 cup sliced celery
  • 6 plum tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, pressed
  • 2 stalks scallion (tops only)
  • 1 cup tomato juice
  • 1tbsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1tbsp sugar
  • 2tsps chili powder
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 tsp oregano flakes
  • 1/2 tsp sweet basil
  • 1/2 tsp whole rosemary
  • 1/2 tsp celery seed
  • 2 tbsps olive oil


  1. Sauté onions, celery, garlic and okra in olive oil until onions are clear.
  2. Add all seasoning and stir to coat onions, celery and okra.
  3. Add tomatoes.
  4. Add tomato juice to cover and cook until celery is tender.
  5. Serve over cooked white or brown rice.

Click here to read more about the African influences on stews and find more recipes.