We all love the occasional bites of KFC, Chefette and Burger King here and there. But when it really comes down to it, we love some good ol’ 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 local products and our food can taste better than anything we could buy. LIn this article, we look at the most popular item in a Bajan cupboard – flour. Now almost every home has flour in its cupboard almost everyday. But Bajans can use flour to make something for breakfast, something for lunch and dessert, and then if need be, something for dinner.
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
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 (which is definitely in every Bajan’s cupboard). Oh and dont forget to add lil’ oinion 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
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 (like the Banana fritters show below). 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 ones in the image 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.
What goes perfectly with bakes and salt fish? Mauby. No, I’m not talking about that generic thing that comes in a bottle nowadays. I 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 ol’ 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
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 sugar over them to give 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
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 flavor 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:
Then, grab your old trusty friend, flour, powder up that meat and fry it. Don’t use those generic batters selling in stores. Flour is a perfect batter for our meats and the fish come out perfectly. Enjoy your fish as a fish cutter in the old fashioned salt bread or eat it with some 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!
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