Barbados is an island country located in the Lesser Antilles of the West Indies, in the Caribbean area of the Americas, and is the most easterly of the Caribbean Islands. The country is home to some of the most beautiful beaches in the world.
People of Afro-Caribbean descent (Afro-Bajans) form 90% of all Barbadians. Other ethnicities include people belonging to Europe (Anglo-Bajans or Euro-Bajans) mostly from the United Kingdom, Ireland, Germany, and Italy. Asians, mainly from Hong Kong and India, make up less than 1% of the country’s population.
Table of Contents
Most Popular Bajan Dishes
Barbadian cuisine is influenced by a combination of African, Portuguese, Indian, Irish, Creole, Indigenous and British cuisines. A typical Barbadian meal includes a main dish of meat or fish, usually marinated with a combination of herbs and spices, hot side dishes, and one or more salads. The meal is generally accompanied by one or more sauces.
Cou-cou and fried flying fish with spicy gravy are considered the national dishes of Barbados. Another widely-consumed traditional dish includes pudding and souse. One can also find many different varieties of seafood and meats in the country.
So without further ado, here are the absolute must-try traditional dishes of Barbados along with recipes to try for yourself.
Barbados is also known as the ‘Land of Flying Fish’ due to the availability of a huge amount (about 60%) of these fish. There are many different ways to cook this fish. Some of the common methods of preparation include frying, steaming, barbecuing, baking, or pickling. Seasonings may differ depending on the area they are being prepared in.
Flying fish, considered to be the national dish of the country, is generally consumed with cou cou. Cou cou is a traditional Barbadian dish prepared by cooking cornmeal with okra and water. It is then topped with tomatoes, onions and peppers.
Macaroni pie is a type of mac and cheese type pie prepared using tubed macaroni, grated cheddar cheese, evaporated milk, ketchup, yellow mustard, onion, egg and breadcrumbs. All these ingredients are then put into a casserole dish and baked.
Occasionally known as the island’s unofficial national dish, this Barbadian delicacy is generally consumed with fried fish, curried or stewed meats.
People can also be seen preparing the spicy version of this dish, which includes the usage of spices such as black pepper, curry pepper and several hot sauces.
Fish cakes are quite simply battered and deep-fried fish. The filling generally includes salted cod or white fish. A variety of herbs and spices are also added to enhance the flavor of the dish.
Typically consumed for breakfast, fish cakes can be found almost everywhere in Barbados, from local food vendors to upscale restaurants. Some locals pair their fish cakes with hot pepper or mayonnaise, while some use it to prepare a sandwich often referred to as ‘bread and two’.
Bread and two is prepared by placing the fried fish cake into a bread roll along with pepper sauce.
Pepperpot is traditionally a Guyanese recipe but is popular in Barbados too. It is quite simply a stew which includes meat of all types (such as pork, mutton, beef, chicken and more). Various traditional Caribbean spices and hot peppers are added to the stew to bring the dish together.
Typically eaten with rice or bread, pepperpot is considered to be a popular Christmas dish. However, it will also be available at local restaurants all year round.
Jug Jug is a delicacy prepared using guinea corn flour, pigeon peas, salted beef brisket, ham or other salted meat, pork or chicken, onions, and some herbs and spices. Occasionally, pepper is also added.
Often compared to the Scottish dish, haggis, Jug jug is very similar to cou cou in terms of consistency. The dish is very popular among people belonging to the оldеr generations and is usually eaten at Chriѕtmаѕ.
Pudding and Souse
Pudding, in Barbados, means steamed sweet potatoes which are prepared with onions, salt and pepper. And souse is a pickled pork dish. The pudding acts as the filling for the pickled pork, and both the dishes are combined properly for an end result that’s packed with complex flavor.
Many locals eat pudding and souse as their normal Saturday lunch.
Traditionally, souse was prepared using pig trotters, ears, snout and tongue. However, now most people choose to use lean pork meat instead. The pudding is, by tradition, offered in a casing of pig intestines (like sausages), although it is optional.
Bakes are a fried dough dish prepared using flour, sugar, nutmeg and traditional Bajan spices. All the ingredients are combined and the batter is then deep-fried until it turns golden brown in color.
Bakes are either consumed plain, with fish cakes, as a side dish for fish or barbecue food, or with essentially anything the maker would like to stuff inside. There are many variations of bakes and there is also a popular derivative, commonly known as a pumpkin fritter.
Rice and Peas
Rice and peas is a widely consumed dish throughout the Caribbean, particularly in Jamaica. The preparation of rice and peas involves the cooking of pigeon peas first along with several seasonings, and the rice is added later.
Many people also boil the rice with coconut milk as it provides the dish with a fluffier texture and makes it sweeter in taste. Rice and peas is generally accompanied by сhiсkеn with a little bit of spice that tends to stabilize its ѕwееt flavor.
Pigeon peas are related to green ѕwееt peas but have a much higher content of рrоtеin and nutrients in them, making this dish extremely healthy and filling.
Ginger bееr is a non-alcoholic drink prepared using ginger, sugar, water and lemon juice. It саn be home-brewed and it is also available in carbonated form аѕ a soft drink.