Easy Jamaican Dumplings

Jamaican dumplings are a staple of the island’s cuisine. Served fried or boiled, these dumplings can be altered by creative cooks to add spice and substance to a meal. Rea on for more facts & information…

The basic recipe is quite simple, but many things can be added to the dumplings to change the flavor. They are a great accompaniment to codfish and other traditional island foods.

Basic Boiled Dumpling Dough

Mix ½ tsp salt with ½ pound all purpose flour and add 1/2 cup of water. Knead the dough by hand until it has the appearance of bread crumbs. Using another ½ cup of water, add water and continue kneading the dough, but do not allow the dough to become soft. When finished, the dough should have a firm texture. Tear off pieces of the dough about the size of a rounded tablespoon and place the pieces in a bowl. Let the dough rest for about twenty minutes.

Take each piece of dough and roll it between the hands until it feels smooth, then flatten it leaving a small dent in the center. Add the dumplings to a pot of boiling water and cook for about 25 minutes.

Fried Jamaican Dumplings

The basic recipe for fried dumplings is similar to those for American biscuits. Leavening is needed in the fried dumplings or they would be too hard to eat.  For fried dumplings, use 2 cups of self rising flour, 1 cup of cold milk and one ounce of butter. Mix together and knead by hand to make dough. Prepare the dough for fried dumplings the same as for boiled dumplings. Heat 1 cup cooking oil in a skillet on low heat and drop the dumplings in allowing them to cook for about three minutes on each side.

Variations on Jamaican Dumplings

It is easy to alter the basic recipe by substituting cornmeal for part of the flour in the dough or by adding extra ingredients like scallions or chives, herbs or even chopped fruit. Spice up the dumplings with a little finely chopped bell pepper or add a little sugar, cinnamon and finely chopped apples for terrific fritters. If substituting cornmeal for self rising flour, remember to use self rising cornmeal or the dumplings will be flat and hard. Jamaicans serve dumplings with almost every meal from breakfast to dinner and it just takes a little imagination to spice them up to accompany different foods.

Other names for Jamaican dumplings include cartwheel, Jack, Johnny cake, and festival. Variations of the basic recipes may be found under these names. The beauty of Jamaican dumplings is their simplicity which allows for a great deal of creativity on the part of individual cooks.  If you are stuck for something for dinner, try these simple Jamaican dumplings as a new side dish.

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