Notting Hill Carnival returns for its 55th year this weekend, with party-goers set to enjoy a celebration of Caribbean culture, and food, music and dancing dominating the streets of west London.
From jerk chicken to rice and peas, delicious juices to west Indian curries, there’s something for everyone in Caribbean cuisine.
But despite their growing popularity, there are still many misconceptions around Caribbean dishes.
Speaking to FEMAIL, Troy Johnson, the co-founder of Sweet Dee’s Jerk, a ‘new generation’ Caribbean restaurant in Selfridges, London revealed the common mistakes people make – including thinking ‘peas’ are green peas…
Notting Hill Carnival returns for its 55th year this weekend, with party-goers set to enjoy a celebration of Caribbean culture, with food, music and dancing dominating the streets of west London
Marinade meat for at least 24 hours
‘If you’re using Caribbean sauces, spices or seasoning such as Jerk, ideally you want to marinate the meat for 24 hours to allow the full flavours to fully soak in, but overnight does the job if you don’t have the time,’ Troy said.
Cook low and slow
‘When cooking meat, you need to cook it long and slow with the temperature down low.
‘Quicker doesn’t mean better – in fact, cooking it slowly brings out deeper flavours and makes the meat tender,’ Troy added.
Get the right equipment
‘Any serious Caribbean cook needs a traditional Dutch Pot, because it is extremely versatile and durable.
‘Its thick, heavy walls conduct heat better and burn food less easily so it’s an ideal vessel for cooking rich stews and popular Caribbean dishes.
‘You can get a Dutch Pot for just £20.’
From jerk chicken to rice and peas, delicious juices to west Indian curries, there’s something for everyone in Caribbean cuisine
Despite their growing popularity, there are still many misconceptions around Caribbean dishes
Make sure the oil is hot
‘To cook your ingredients thoroughly and evenly, ensure you preheat the oil – the hotter the pan, the greater the temperature difference and the quicker heat will transfer.
Sweet Dee’s launch a slushie menu
Sweet Dee’s Jerk has just launched a new slushie menu – Sweet Dee’s Slush – bringing all the refreshing, tropical and fruity flavours, made even more irresistible with the addition of a double shot of rum, courtesy of Wray & Nephew or Duppy Share.
The menu boasts four signature slushie blends, served with or without rum, to soothe your summer cravings. Choose from the vibrant and tangy blend of ‘Lemon and Lime’, the classic Caribbean staple ‘Fruit Punch’, the sun-kissed ‘Pineapple’, or the ‘Ting A Ling’ with exotic pink grapefruit, lime and rum.
Each Sweet Dee’s Slush is guaranteed to transport tastebuds to the sun-soaked Caribbean islands, but the food may be even better.
In addition to the fruity, frozen beverages, Sweet Dee’s Jerk has welcomed some new Caribbean-inspired street food to its menu.
Alongside their famous 24-hour marinated and charcoal-grilled Jerk Chicken Wrap, Bagel or Jerk Bowl, turn up the heat with their spicy Jerk Wings, or indulge in their Curry Goat Bowl – boneless goat with a classic fusion of herbs and spices, serviced with rice and peas, plantain, and Caribbean salad/slaw. Vegan options include their new jackfruit, served as a bowl, wrap or bagel.
For a limited time only, customers can enjoy a Sweet Dee’s Slush Happy Hour to buy one rum slushie and get the second half price. Gather your friends and the crew and head down to Sweet Dee’s Jerk in Selfridges FoodHall between 5pm and 6pm, Monday to Friday.
Use fresh ingredients
‘Caribbean cuisine is all about the authentic, deep flavours so try not to cut corners with tinned alternatives.
‘Fresh fruit and vegetables such as peppers and onion hugely improves the dish’s overall taste.’
Don’t use too much salt
‘Many seasonings and spices used in Caribbean cooking have enough flavour and salt in it to give the dish a nice kick, so try to avoid the habit of adding extra salt.’
Put love into your cooking
‘The heritage of Caribbean cuisine is centred around people coming together, music and culture – so it’s so important to put love into your cooking because all your feelings come through in your dish.’
Use all-purpose seasoning
‘All-purpose seasoning is the holy grail of Caribbean cooking and a must-have pantry staple ingredient.
‘The spice blend is largely embraced within the Caribbean community because it’s so diverse and can be used to enhance the flavour of almost any savoury dish.’
You don’t have to use peppers
One of the most common misconceptions about Caribbean food is that it’s supposed to be spicy, but this is not true.
‘You can replace Scotch Bonnet Peppers from any recipe with milder peppers or just omit them completely if you can’t take the heat – the flavours from the dish should be strong enough to make the food taste delicious.’
Don’t use green peas in your rice and peas
‘Rice and peas is a traditional food within the West Indian Caribbean islands where they refer to ‘beans’ as ‘peas’.
‘It is traditional to use kidney beans to cook this popular side dish, as the beans along with the other ingredients create a unique blend of flavours.
‘If you use normal green peas, it wouldn’t be a Caribbean dish.’