Bahamian Cuisine

Although you can find almost any kind of international food in the Bahamas from Sushi to Lasagna, some dishes are unique to the Bahamas.

The Bahamas are the delight of fresh seafood lovers who enjoy the bountifully rich treasures from the sea. Crawfish (local rock lobster) conch (pronounced ‘konk’), land crabs, and fish such as Grouper, Yellow Tail and Red Snapper are local and tourist favorites.

Conch (pronounced ‘konk’), is a mollusk (shell fish like an oyster), is a perennial local seafood favorite. Unlike the slimy oyster the meat of conch is firm and white and is prepared in a variety of ways including conch chowder, conch stew, conch salad, popular conch fritters, and is also deep fried as “cracked conch”.

Boiled fish and grits is a favorite breakfast. Boiled fish is also delicious served with homemade Island bread. Grouper is the most popular fish used for boiling. Bahamians are experts at cooking this fish which is flaky, white, tender and mild in flavor.

Other specialties include Bahamian stew fish (made with celery, onions, tomatoes, spices and fish), Bahamian crawfish, peas n’ rice (consisting of pigeon peas with salt, pork or bacon, tomatoes, celery, rice, thyme and pepper) and Johnny cake (pan-cooked bread made with butter, milk, flour, sugar, salt and baking powder).

A typical Bahamian meal consists of crab and rice, delicious steamed fish, served with baked macaroni and cheese and a good helping of potato salad. This is followed by desserts such as coconut or pineapple tart, bread pudding or guava duff, a delicious dessert that is made through a laborious process of folding the fruit into the dough and boiling and is served with a sauce. This meal is topped off with a large glass of ice cold “switcha” (lemon, sugar and water mixture) or beer. Such a typical meal also explains why their are so many Bahama Mama’s and why heart disease and diabetes is so rampant in the Bahamas.

A typical Bahamian Christmas meal consists of baked ham and baked turkey with stuffing, green peas and rice, yam or sweet potato, baked macaroni and cheese, potato salad, coleslaw and vegetables.

Bahamian Recipes

Conch Chowder

3-oz. onion, 3-oz. celery, and 3oz. carrots, 3oz. green pepper, 6 oz. potatoes, 8oz. Conch, 2 oz. oil, 2 oz. tomato paste, 1 qt. water. Add salt to taste.

Method: Cut vegetables and conch into ¼ inch dice. Cook the vegetables, herbs for 3 minutes. Add the conch, tomato paste and chopped tomatoes and cook For 10 minutes. Add the water and simmer for 1-½ hours. Skim occasionally and season to taste. Note: clams, scallops or shrimp may be used in place of conch. Serves 6.

Pea soup and dough

Ingredients: 2 oz. pork fat, 2 oz. onion, 3 oz. flour, 4 oz. tomato paste, thyme, bay leaf, 10oz. pigeon peas, 8 oz. salt beef, 1 qt. water, salt, Tabasco sauce
For Dough (6oz. flour, water, ½ oz baking powder)

Method : Cut the pork into ½ inch dice and fry in the oil until brown. Add the herbs and flour and cook for 2 minutes. Allow to cool slightly, add the paste, peas, salt beef and water. Stir, bring to the boil and skim. Simmer for ½ hour, add the dough and continue cooking for 1 hour. Season to taste. Note: Canned kidney beans may be used instead of pigeon peas. Dough (Combine the flour, baking powder and sufficient water to make a firm dough. Knead well. Allow to rest for 15 minutes, then pin out and cut into one inch squares). Serves 6.

Crab and Rice

Ingredients : 3 land crabs, 1 oz. pork fat, 1 oz. oil, 2 oz. onion, 2 oz. celery, 2 oz. green pepper, 2 oz. tomato paste, 12 oz. pigeon peas, 1 qt. water, 1 lb. rice, salt, pepper to taste.

Method : Separate the body of the crab from the back, spoon out the fat and keep to one side. Cut the pork and vegetables into ¼ inch dice and fry in the oil. Add the crab fat, thyme, tomato paste and cook for 5 minutes. Add the water, bring to the boil. Add the rice and seasonings and cook under cover for approximately 20 minutes. Note: Lobster may be substituted for the crab. Serves 6.
Conch Fritters

Ingredients: 1 lb. conch, 2 oz. onion, 2 oz. celery, 2 oz. green pepper, 1 egg (beaten), ½ oz. baking powder, 12oz. flour, salt, Tabasco Sauce, water.

Method : Cut the conch, and vegetables into ¼ inch dice. Mix the eggs, flour and baking powder and seasonings with sufficient water to form a fairly firm batter. Combine all ingredients and allow to rest for 15 min. prior to deep frying. Note: Clams may be used instead of conch. Serves 8.

Cracked Conch

Ingredients: 1 ½ lb. conch, 1 oz. lemon juice, 2oz. flour, 3 eggs

Method : Cut the conch in half horizontally and tenderize. Marinate the conch in the lemon juice for ½ hour. Beat the eggs and dip the conch in the flour, egg wash and finally dip again into the flour. Deep fry. Serves 4.

Johnny Cake

Ingredients: 2lb. flour, 2 tablespoons baking powder, 4oz. sugar, ¼ oz. salt, milk, water, 4oz butter, nutmeg

Method : Sift the dry ingredients and form a well. Rub the butter into the flour, add sufficient milk and water to make a firm dough. Knead well then allow to rest for 30 minutes. Gently flatten to a height of 2 inches and bake in a moderate oven for approximately 35 minutes. Serves 6.

Guava Duff

Ingredients: (Dough) 4 cups flour, 1 cup sugar, 1 ½ tsp baking powder, 1 tsp salt, ½ cup vegetable oil, 2 cups finely sliced guava

Methods : Combine all dry ingredients and mix together. Add oil. Knead approximately 10 minutes until smooth and pliable. Place on a flat surface and roll out to ¼ in. thick. Spread sliced guava over dough. Roll up into a long round loaf. Wrap in foil. Cook in a double boiler for 1 hr.

Sauce Ingredients: 1 lb. butter, ½ cup sugar, 2 8oz. tins sweetened condensed milk, 1 cup finely sliced guava, ¼ cup brandy (substitute vanilla extract for brandy)

Method : Blend butter and sugar together approximately 15 minutes. Add condensed milk and guava and blend 2 minutes. Add brandy (or vanilla) and blend 1 minute.

Cut dough into slices. Pour sauce over dough. Serves 8 – 10.