Conkies — A Bajan Delicacy
During the month of November as Barbados commemorates Independence, there are many Bajan delicacies that Barbadians enjoy. One of these such delicacies is the Conkie a corn based delicacy, said to derive its name from the Ghanaian word “kenkey” (also a corn meal dish). In the early years, prior to Independence, Conkies were prepared on November 5th, Guy Fawkes Day, and were believed to a part of the commemoration of the survival of King James the first from attempted assassination on that day. However, after gaining Independence, Conkies became a dish associated with Barbadian Independence. As a unique part of our culture, Conkies are a true reflection of Bajan tradition, with the use of various spices, local corn flour and other ingredients (see below) and are a huge favorite among Barbadians.
There are several recipes on how to make Conkies, as persons tend to use different ingredients. However, the main ingredients tend to remain the same: pumpkin, sweet potato, coconut, flour and most importantly cornmeal. With these as your base, you won’t go wrong. However, this recipe that will be shared is the most popular one used among Bajans:
· 1 large dry coconut, grated or 1 cup prepackaged grated coconut (this is a matter of preference; personally I prefer to grate the coconut itself as it ends to have a fresher and more authentic taste)
· ¾ lb grated pumpkin
· ½ lb grated sweet potato
· ¾ lb sugar
· 1 tsp spice
· 1 tsp nutmeg (optional; some persons tend not to like a lot of spices in their Conkie)
· 1 tsp almond essence
· 4 ozs. Raisins (optional depending on if you like raisins)
· 1 cup self-rising flour
· 2 cups corn flour or corn meal
· 1 tsp salt
· 4 – 6 ozs. melted butter or margarine
· 2 ozs. melted shortening
· 1 cup milk
· Fresh green banana leaves
The Process of Conkie Making,
Step 1: Mix the coconut, pumpkin, sweet potato, sugar, spices, raisins, flour, corn meal and salt into a large mixing bowl and stir.
Step 2: Add the melted butter, shortening and milk to the Conkie and stir, either by hand or using a large spoon, until all the ingredients are well blended. By this time, a thick mixture should be formed. If it is not thick enough add more flour; if too think, add more milk or even water if so desired.
Step 3: Taste. Make sure that the Conkie is sweet enough or not too sweet, depending on your personal preference. Whatever is needed, add sparingly.
Step 4: Take the Banana leaves, strip them carefully from the stalk and briefly singe them over an open flame to ensure that as you wrap the Conkie, the leaves are flexible enough to be bent.
Step 5: Take a few spoonfuls of the mixture and place in the center of the banana leaf. Ensure that there is not too much of the mixture that the leaf cannot hold. Gently fold the leaf around the mixture (as if wrapping a gift) taking care not to damage the leaf.
Step 6: Take a large pot and place the banana leaf stalks at the bottom and cover the stalks with water. Place the Conkies inside the pot and cover it, allowing the Conkies to steam until firm.
Step 7: Eat up!
For a visual on how everything is done, visit: youtube.com
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