What’s in a Bajan Cupboard?

We all love the occa­sional bites of KFC, Chefette and Pizza here and there. But when it really comes down to it, we love some good olé’ Bajan cook­ing using recipes and meth­ods from our par­ents and grand­par­ents. The best thing about Bajan and Caribbean cook­ing is that we can use our own locally pro­duced prod­ucts and have our food tast­ing bet­ter than any­thing we could buy. Let’s look at the most pop­u­lar item in a Bajan cup­board – flour. Now almost every home has flour but Bajans can use flour to make some­thing for break­fast, lunch and dessert, and then if need be some­thing for dinner.

Don’t believe me? Then check this out…


What’s in the cupboard/​fridge? Corned beef, Aunt May’s Sea­son­ing, Aunt May’s pep­per sauce, salt, Oil, Potato and Flour

What can this make? Corned Beef Cakes
corned beef

Now this might not be a Bajan recipe per say but this is some­thing most of our grand­par­ents did for us. Ide­ally, all you need is potato, flour, corned beef, a bit of Aunt May’s sea­son­ing and some Aunt May’s pep­per sauce (two things that I’m sure are in every Bajan’s cup­board). Oh and don’t for­get to add lil’ onion and chives and a dash of salt. Cook the pota­toes and mash them into the corned beef along with all the other ingre­di­ents. Then you can do one of two things, you can add the flour to the mix­ture and add the cakes one by one to the fry­ing pan using a spoon, or you can roll the cakes with your hand and lightly dust them with flour and then add them to the pan. Fry them until slightly golden brown. Only do a hand­ful for break­fast though because we still need to save room for lunch and dessert.


What’s in the cupboard/​fridge? Bar­ba­dos Cane Sugar, Mixed Essence, Salt, Mar­garine, Bak­ing pow­der* and Saltfish

What can this make? Bakes and Salt­fish
bakes 1

Every­thing you know about bakes says they should look like over­grown pota­toes and called by the Eng­lish word “muf­fin”. Nope, not accord­ing to my gran. My per­sonal pref­er­ence is to have my bakes flat like a pan­cake, (hence why I have the aster­isk beside bak­ing pow­der). Basi­cally, how I and my pre­vi­ous gen­er­a­tions did bakes was to add some flower to some sugar, essence, mar­garine and a dash of salt and fry them. This way the bakes come out flat (as shown in above). But for bakes and salt­fish, I am will­ing to bend just a lit­tle because some pre­fer to have their salt­fish inside the bake.


Now all you need to do is to add some bak­ing pow­der to the ingre­di­ents given above and your bake can look like the one in Image 2 above. The salt fish is easy to do. Salt fish also known as cod fish is also very pop­u­lar among Bajans, specif­i­cally because it can be cooked in a vari­ety of ways. For this exam­ple, the salt fish is stir fried with some sweet pep­per, onions, hot pep­pers and spices.

maubyWhat goes per­fectly with bakes and salt fish? Mauby. No, I’m not talk­ing about that generic thing that comes in a bot­tle nowa­days. In mean the real, orig­i­nal mauby bark. All sort of recipes online will give you a fancy way to make mauby using mauby bark. My advice? Take the bark, soak it in some water for a bit and add some good olé’ Bajan cane sugar and drink up.


What’s in the cupboard/​fridge? Bananas, Mixed Essence, Bajan Cane Sugar, Flour, Bak­ing Pow­der and Egg*

What can this make? Banana Frit­ters

Banana fritters

Ahhh. My per­sonal favourite. When I first had banana frit­ters there was no going back. It’s basi­cally a bake as you would notice from the ingre­di­ents but with bananas and a lot less sugar (the bananas add the sweet­ness). All you have to do is mash the bananas as soft as pos­si­ble and add all the ingre­di­ents minus the flour and stir until you have some­thing resem­bling pan­cake bat­ter. Then, add the flour. Some peo­ple add egg to give the frit­ters some extra fluff but that is pref­er­en­tial. When fried, you can sprin­kle some pow­dered sugar over them as shown in the pic­ture to give them a fin­ished look.


What’s in the cupboard/​fridge?Old Fash­ioned Salt Bread/​Wibisco Eclipse Bis­cuits, Fish, Flour, Salt and Lime

What can this make? A Fish Cut­ter
fish cutter

I know we had fish for lunch already, but we can­not fin­ish this arti­cle with­out show­ing how we as Bajans sea­son our meat. Flour doesn’t fea­ture as promi­nently as in the other recipes but it serves a use­ful pur­pose here. First we have the old fash­ioned salt bread from the local bak­ery made Bajan style. Then we have the fish or what­ever meat you choose to use. The key is the sea­son­ing and the fry­ing. We don’t need to buy these generic sea­son­ing pow­ders to get max­i­mum flavour from our meats. All we need is a lil bit of Aunt May’s Sea­son­ing (jerk sea­son­ing if you’re addicted to pep­per like me), lime and salt. Lime and salt the meat (with or with­out water) to give it some fresh­ness. Slice lit­tle spots inside the fish and stuff the sea­son­ing inside. Then apply the sea­son­ing to the outer part of the fish so it looks some­thing like this:
seasoned fish

Then, grab your old trusty friend, flour, pow­der up that meat and fry it. Don’t use those generic bat­ters sell­ing in stores. Old trusted friend flour is a per­fect bat­ter for our meats and the fish come out per­fect. Enjoy your fish as a fish cut­ter in the old fash­ioned salt bread or eat it with some even Wibisco Eclipse Bis­cuits. Did I also men­tion they are made of flour too?

Just a dis­claimer, I am not encour­ag­ing per­sons to eat solely fried foods or use flour for each meal of the day. This arti­cle is merely for demon­stra­tive pur­poses to show how dif­fer­ently we as a Caribbean peo­ple cook com­pared to other places. I bet you didn’t know flour could be so use­ful and handy to have in your cupboard!

© Photo 1 taken from Bang​in​food​.com
© Photo 2 taken from Hun​gry​bel​lyrescipes​.com
© Photo 3 taken from Won­der­howto
© Photo 4 taken from Caribbean​recipes​.com
© Photo 5 & 7 taken from Caribbean​pot​.com
© Photo 6 taken from Pin​ter​est​.com
© Arti­cle of caribbe​an​dreams​magazine​.com

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