The Jamaican Melting Pot – Out Of Many, One Cuisine

European heritage

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Shipwreck, hunger, thirst, and bloodshed. This is how the Spanish occupation of Jamaica began. Columbus himself shipwrecked off the north coast for twelve months between 1508 and 1509, a stretch of coastline whose beauty he had praised so highly only two years before. In 1655, Admiral William Penn and General Robert Venables were dispatched to conquer Spanish Santo Domingo (Hispaniola) but failed, so they turned their attention to Jamaica. Under British rule, Jamaica went from being a Spanish storehouse to one of the most prized Colonial possession of the entire British Empire. 

Easy Paella (Spanish)

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 tsp each hot smoked paprika and dried thyme
  • 300g paella or risotto rice
  • 3 tbsp dry sherry or white wine (optional)
  • 400g can chopped tomatoes with garlic
  • 900ml chicken stock
  • 400g bag frozen seafood mix
  • juice ½ lemon, other half cut into wedges
  • handful flat-leaf parsley, roughly chopped


  1. Heat the oil in a large frying pan. Add the onion and soften for 5 mins. Stir in the paprika, thyme and rice, stir for 1 min, then splash in the Sherry or wine, if using. Once it has evaporated, stir in the tomatoes and stock. Season and cook, uncovered, for about 15 mins, stirring now and again until rice is almost tender and still surrounded with some liquid.
  2. Stir the frozen seafood into the pan and cover with a lid. Simmer for 5 mins, or until the prawns are cooked through and the rice is tender. Squeeze over the lemon juice, scatter with parsley and serve with extra lemon wedges.
 Recipe from


English Muffins (United Kingdom)

  • 20 ounces (about 4 2/3 cups) bread flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp fine sea salt or table salt
  • 1 tbs sugar
  • 2 tsp instant yeast
  • 2 tbs butter, room temperature
  • 1 3/4 cups lukewarm milk
  • Oil or cooking spray
  • 1/4 cup cornmeal


  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the flour, salt, sugar and yeast. Beat briefly to mix. Add the butter and milk and beat on low until combined, about 1 minute. Keeping the machine on low, beat the dough an additional 8 minutes, or until the dough is very smooth and elastic.
  2. Lightly coat a large bowl with oil or cooking spray. Transfer the dough to the bowl, turning it to coat all sides. Cover with a damp towel and let rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.
  3. Line two rimmed baking sheets with kitchen parchment, then sprinkle half the cornmeal evenly over the bottom of each. Divide the dough into 12 pieces (roughly 3 ounces each), shape the pieces into rounds by stretching the sides of the dough down and around to the bottom and pinching the seal at the bottom of the dough where the creases converge.
  4. Transfer half of the balls to each sheet pan and press down gently to form 3-inch rounds, making sure there is at least 1 inch between the rounds. Mist the tops of the rounds lightly with cooking spray, then cover loosely with plastic wrap. Let the rounds rise in a warm place until almost doubled in bulk, about 50 minutes.
  5. Heat a large griddle or skillet over medium. Mist the pan with cooking spray.
  6. Being careful not to deflate the muffins, transfer them gently to the pan, in batches, leaving 1/2 inch between them. Cook for 1 minute. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook for 4 to 5 minutes, or until the bottoms are golden brown. Gently flip the muffins and cook on medium for 1 minute, then on medium-low for 4 to 5 minutes, or until the second sides are golden brown. Transfer the muffins to a rack to cool for 30 minutes.

Recipe from AP


NOTE: Germans also came to Jamaica as indentured servants. After emancipation, the Colonial Government of Jamaica adopted a programme of settling European peasants in the island. It was hoped that they would create a thriving settlement and act as a model for the ex-slaves. Between the years 1834 and 1838, about 1, 210 German immigrants arrived in the island. They were small trades people, a few farmers and disbanded soldiers of light calvary regiment. Click here for some German recipes.