News Americas, NEW YORK, NY, Fri. July 1, 2016: Sunday dinner desserts in the Caribbean and in the Caribbean Diaspora from the region’s ‘Super Foods’ are extremely popular in our cuisine.
Some include Yam Cake, Sweet Potato Pudding, Corn Pone, Cassava Pone, Conkie (Barbados) or Blue Drawers or Duckunoo (Jamaica) and Banana Pudding. While traditionally these desserts are made and served mostly at Sunday dinners, parties, weddings, christenings and during the various holidays, in some communities where there are Caribbean bakeries, some of these items are sold daily.
The popularity of these desserts has been achieved by the cheer fact that they are extremely delicious. And thanks to our parents, who we thought created these items out of sheer necessity and economic challenges than rather for their nutritional values; these desserts are now a mainstay in Caribbean cuisine.
The preparation of these super food puddings starts with the grated super food item (yam, sweet potatoes, banana, and cassava). To each item, spices such as nutmeg, Cinnamon, allspice and vanilla are added along with Coconut milk, coconut oil, sugar flour, or cornmeal and dried fruits such as raisins and a dash of white rum for taste!
All the ingredients are mixed together and baked covered in a thick Dutch pot with hot coals at the bottom and at the top. It is from this method of baking that the following popular saying (in Jamaica): “Hell a tap, hell a bottom and Hallelujah in da middle is derived!”
As children in Jamaica, having these puddings for desserts at the dinner table on a Sunday was one of the highlights of the family meal.
One of my favorite super food desserts is Blue Drawers also known as Duckunoo. The following is the recipe:
Jamaican Blue Drawers (Duckunoo)
1 cup grated Green Banana
2 cups grated Sweet Potatoes
2 cups Coconut Milk
1 cup Cornmeal or flour
1 cup Brown Sugar
1 tsp. Salt
1 tsp. Vanilla Flavoring
2 tsp nutmeg
2 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp Allspice
1 cup Raisins
2 tbsp. Coconut Oil
1/2 cup Jamaican White Rum (optional)
6″x 6 Banana leaf (8 pieces)
Culinary Cord for tying
(Note: Banana leaves are sold in some supermarkets in the freezer section.)
- Bring water to boil in a deep, heavy pot.
- In a large mixing bowl add: the grated bananas, sweet potatoes, flour or cornmeal, coconut milk, salt, sugar, vanilla spices, raisins and cooking oil.
- Use a large spoon to mix the ingredients together.
- Spread banana leaf pieces out on a table and add 3 spoonfuls of the mixture to the center of the banana leaf.
- Fold the leaf around the mixture, taking care not to rip the leaf.
- Tie each securely and put each packet carefully on a large plate.
- Continue until all the mixture is used.
- Place all the wrapped mixture – Blue Drawers/ Duckunoo – into the pot of boiling water.
- Allow to cook for about 45 minutes to 1 hour.
- Remove each from the boiling water and allow them cool to room temperature.
- Untie each from the banana leaf and serve as is, with a rum cream or with Vanilla ice cream.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Minna LaFortune is a trained Caribbean caterer and also president, Society for the Advancement of the Caribbean Diaspora (SACD). Check out her food group on Facebook at www.facebook.com/groups/bestfoodscaribbean/