A guide to Caribbean street food

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The Caribbean islands are fast becoming some of the most popular destinations in the world for all inclusive getaways, and although your food and drink is included, you’ve got to try some of the local food while you’re away, and what better way to do so than to buy from the local street vendors?

If you”re keen to sample Caribbean cuisine at its best, stopping by a market stall is a must.

Of course, you”ll find tasty fare in top-end restaurants across the islands, but to get an idea of how locals eat and to indulge in food created using traditional cooking methods passed down the generations, you should seek out a roadside vendor. By doing so, you may well get the chance to try curried goat!

This signature Jamaican dish draws its influences from Indian curries, but is now popular across the islands. Here, pieces of on-the-bone goat meat, scotch bonnet peppers, garlic and onions are cooked on a low heat for several hours to create a flavoursome, stew-style curry. Make sure you keep an eye out for bones while you eat, as these are often left in the cooking pot to give extra taste.

Curried goat is usually served with white rice and peas. However, don”t make the mistake of thinking that “peas” here refer to green garden peas, as depending on where you go, they could be any kind of peas or beans. You may end up having cowpeas, red kidney beans or black-eyed peas, and you”ll find this is a particularly popular Sunday dinner dish among the locals.

Another common element of Caribbean cuisine is jerk seasoning, a mixture of scotch bonnet peppers, cinnamon, allspice and other herbs and spices that are dry-rubbed into meat before cooking.

Helping to give it a spicy and peppery taste, chicken is the most common meat that jerk seasoning is used as a marinade for, but you will also find that it complements pork, fish and beef incredibly well.

These days, jerk chicken is normally baked in the oven or is grilled in a special steel pan, although some vendors still use the traditional cooking method of smoking it over charcoal.
If during your holidays you stop by Trinidad and Tobago and are keen to try some great street food, aloo pie should be on your list of must-eats.

Given the fact that the first half of its name is the same as aloo gobi (aloo is the Hindi word for potato), you may be interested to know that this popular snack is influenced by Indian cuisine and in many ways is a Caribbean version of a samosa.

The dish consists of fried pastry, that is filled with spicy mash potato and other vegetables (these can vary from vendor to vendor, but green peas and chickpeas are typically popular options) before being wrapped up into a roughly cylindrical shape. Designed to be eaten with your hands, it can be a little messy sometimes, so you may want to grab a napkin before you take your first bite! Aloo pie is often served with a sweet and sour dipping sauce that you could find gives it an additional kick.

Another particularly popular dish in Trinidad and Tobago, as well as in other eastern islands like Barbados, is roti. The dish dates back to the mid-19th century when contract labourers from India arrived in the area, and as it consists of a wheat flour pancake stuffed with a range of tasty fillings, it can be eaten at virtually any time of day.

Indeed, if you want a hearty breakfast, why not get a sadi roti? Filled with aubergines and other vegetables before being cooked on a tava, a large disc-shaped griddle, this could be a great way to kickstart your day!

However, if you”re seeking a spot of lunch, a dhalpuri roti could do the trick. Here, the roti is stuffed with yellow split peas, garlic, cumin and pepper, while versions that contain curried chicken and goat are also available.

Grab a can of ginger beer to wash down your food, although for something a little stronger, rum punch or the Jamaican lager Red Stripe could also quench your thirst. No matter what you eat or drink, you can be confident that Caribbean street cuisine will be a tasty experience!

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