By Kari Heron
My house, though nestled in the sandy dunes of Arabia, has the smell of a tropical Jamaican Christmas and New Year wafting through the air. As a child of the tropics and Jamaican expatriate, food is my home away from home. In an instant, a smell, a taste, a sighting of a traditional ingredient or any combination of the above transforms my little Middle Eastern Villa into an idyllic tropical getaway.
These three recipes – Jamaican Sorrel Sangria, Tropical Holiday Salad and Jamaican Roast Chicken – will sweep you off to a foodie holiday with me, to my little paradise island. These are quick, practical recipes and made with ingredients that are readily available in the region. As a rule, I favour recipes that make for efficient use of energy and resources. In other words, less time in the kitchen and more time enjoying the company of your family and friends!
Traditionally, every Jamaican home has a roast of sorts, a sangria cocktail we call “Sorrel” and coconut in some recipe (usually in Rice and Peas). Here is my take on the representation of those three flavours – the sorrel, the coconut and the roast. Not surprisingly, ‘Allspice’, a spice native to Jamaica, features prominently in two of these recipes. No surprise here for this is the queen of all spices and no Jamaican home is ever without it. In fact, a Jamaican home without allspice is like a sailboat without sails!
Tropical Holiday Salad
- 1 large bag baby spinach
- 1 bag mixed baby salad greens
- 2 handfuls flat parsley leaves
- 1⁄2 cup desiccated coconut
- 1⁄2 cup pomegranate seeds
For the Lime Dressing:
- 1 tbsp lime juice
- 6 tbsp sunflower oil
- salt and pepper to taste
- Toss the greens, desiccated coconut and pomegranate seeds.
- Add the dressing and more coconut if you wish.
This salad makes me want to talk in the sing-song cadence for which our Caribbean accents are famous. I am literally home! Coconut is a huge part of Caribbean cuisine and in Jamaica, it is a star in so many different dishes from sweet to savoury. Pomegranates are loved by children across the island and were a favourite fruit from my own childhood – so putting them together here was simply magical for me. Salads can get pretty monotonous day to day and when you are serving several dishes in one meal, can often be overlooked. It ought not be. In fact, this year, let salad be one of the featured acts at your dining table!
[This recipe and story is exclusive to FoodeMag dxb]