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A chef chops fresh conch meat for conch salad in The Bahamas.

Authentic Bahamian Dishes and How To Enjoy

Posted by: Nassau Paradise Island on November 07, 2022

If you've ever visited Nassau Paradise Island, you know that Bahamian cuisine is unlike anything you've ever tasted in your life. The flavors of fresh herbs and carefully curated spices erupt in your mouth like lava from a volcano with every bite. From the melt-in-your-mouth cracked conch to the crave-worthy conch chowder, you've probably experienced many local dishes that you're still dreaming about! But beyond signature dishes, Bahamian cookbooks are full of lesser-known but no less delicious recipes you must try during your visit. Keep reading to learn more about them and how to enjoy them. 

Breakfast: The Bahamian Way

A plate of tuna and grits.

There is no better way to start your morning in The Bahamas than with a hearty breakfast. Of course, for many, that means the standard eggs, pancakes, and sausages.  But if you really want to fuel your day, we recommend skipping the traditional North American breakfast and sinking your fork or spoon deep into one of the following options.

Firstly, we must inform you that no Bahamian breakfast dish is complete without grits. We eat grits with everything! Grits and steamed sausage, grits and sardines, grits and eggs — you get the drift. Grits to Bahamians are like maple bacon to Canadians or croissants to the French. As previously mentioned, there are many ways to enjoy grits for breakfast, but we recommend tuna and grits. You may be familiar with tuna salad from other parts of the world, but Bahamian tuna salad is a bit different. 


  • 2 cans of Tuna

  • 3 tbsp chopped onion

  • 3 tbsp chopped green pepper

  • 3 tbsp mayo

  • 2 tsp mustard (optional)

  • Juice of 3 limes

  • Salt, pepper, and goat pepper (scotch bonnet or habanero) to taste

 Mix all ingredients together until well blended. Serve atop or beside warm white or yellow grits. The best way to enjoy this meal is with the grits smothered in butter and a slice of avocado (or "pear", as we call it). We recommend adding a bit of salt and black pepper to the avocado to give it some flavor.

Souse, Chicken Souse!

Another staple in the repertoire of Bahamian breakfast is chicken souse. Now, while chicken souse is often consumed at breakfast time, it can also be eaten at any time of the day.  

Chicken souse is not to be confused with chicken soup. In our humble opinion, the best way to enjoy chicken souse is with a warm slice of Johnny Cake slathered with butter or with a bowl of grits. Yes, grits again! While most people enjoy having a slice on the side and eating it separate from the souse, we encourage you to break off a chunk with your spoon and submerge it in the broth. It's delicious! If you want to try a hearty bowl of chicken souse at home, try this recipe!  

The Secret's in the Souse

If you are the type to try different and uncommon dishes while traveling, then you are in for a treat! This souse is truly Bahamian. In fact, it's so Bahamian that in our travels throughout the Caribbean, we have yet to come across another place that prepares this dish the Bahamian way. This dish is also filled with flavor and can be enjoyed with Johnny Cake or grits. What kind of souse are we referring to? Sheep tongue souse! Yes, you read that right. 

Now, you might be unsure about consuming sheep tongue, and we totally get it. Seriously, please bare with us as we go off on a little tangent here! We know that many truly authentic Bahamian dishes were passed on from generation to generation, and they all are loved and enjoyed! But sheep tongue souse? Did our ancestors look at their sheep one day and say, "Mudda sick, if we souse the tongue of the sheep with some lime, pepper, salt, onions and throw some potatoes in it, it will buss!" Did this thought really cross their minds? Anyway, we digress. 

Most Bahamians enjoy a nice hot bowl of sheep tongue souse on a Saturday morning. So if you are erring on the adventurous side, try a bowl of sheep tongue souse during your next visit. 

Oh, and another type of souse that Bahamians also enjoy is pig feet souse, but we won't get into too much detail with that one. Let's stick with the sheep tongue souse this trip and venture to the more exotic on the next one. 

A Lunchtime Favorite: Chicken in da Bag

It's lunchtime, Nassau Paradise Island is bustling, scores of people are gathering around popular dining spots, and the harmonious sound of "Eh, lemme get one chicken in da bag!" bellows through the crowd. Oh, the sweet sound of lunchtime. But what is a chicken in da bag? Well, let us start off by saying it is a Bahamian classic. It is the go-to lunch when Bahamians are unable to decide what it is that they really want to eat. It's fried chicken, thighs and breasts, served over a bed of french fries. Now you are saying, "Well, that's just chicken and fries," and you would be partially correct, but there is more to it.

What makes chicken in da bag unique to The Bahamas is not the way it is prepared but the way it is served. First, the hot fries and perfectly seasoned fried chicken are removed from the fryer and placed into tin foil. The foil is then wrapped tightly and placed in the bag — and this is where the magic happens. You see, the tented up foil traps the heat, which provides moisture resulting in juices from the chicken marinating the french fries, thus providing a flavorful explosion in your mouth. Not only are you tasting the seasonings from the fries, but the blend of seasonings used on the chicken also! Now, if you eat chicken in the bag, you have to eat it the right way. The following condiments must be used: ketchup, hot sauce, and mayo! Then, you want to top your meal off with some onions. This is truly the best way to enjoy chicken in da bag. Suppose you're not up for trying chicken in da bag. In that case, try your hand at other authentic Bahamian dishes, like cracked conch, cracked lobster, fried fish served with succulent plantains, cheesy macaroni, and peas n' rice

Soup is The Soul of The Bahamas

Like chicken souse, any slight change in the weather calls for a meal that can bring warmth to the body and the heart. And a dish that does precisely that is none other than peas soup and dough/dumplings. This soup has everything in it, from pork ribs and ham to salt beef, pigs tail, plantains, potatoes, cassava, sweet potatoes, and dumplings. You name it, it is in this soup! Another noteworthy soup that is one hundred percent Bahamian is crab soup. This soup is often made during the summer when the crabs are abundant.

Call da Fire Engine, Tell Them Come Quick!

A plate of corned beef, white rice, and canned corn.

The typical Bahamian cooks on a larger scale on Sundays. And throughout the week, meals tend to be smaller and can be prepared quickly. One of the most popular weekday meals is something we call "Fire engine". Specifically, fire engine is corned beef, white rice, and canned corn — not canned cream corn! The color combination of white, yellow, and red gives the dish its name. This dish's ingredients mix salty, savory, and spicy flavors. A blend of aromatics such as onions, garlic, and green pepper coupled with fresh herbs and spices like goat pepper, black pepper, and thyme sauteed in tomato paste really brings out the flavor. If you don't believe us, try the recipe below for yourselves. Also note, corn beef can also be eaten with, you guessed it, grits. 


  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil

  • 2 cans (12 ounces each) corned beef

  • 1 medium onion, chopped

  • 1 small green bell pepper, chopped

  • 2 sprigs of thyme

  • 1 clove of garlic, diced (optional)

  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste

  • 3/4 cup water

  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper

  • salt to taste


  1. On medium-high heat, sweat the onion, green bell pepper, garlic, and thyme in a large frying pan with vegetable oil until translucent.

  2. Add all remaining ingredients into the frying pan, stirring regularly until the corned beef is heated throughout and becomes a smooth consistency.

  3. Reduce the stovetop to low heat, cover the frying pan with a fitted lid, and allow the ingredients to steam and flavors to develop for 15 minutes.

Once you have finished cooking your rice, corn, and corned beef, the dish is ready to be served. Now, to eat this dish as a Bahamian would, we recommend mixing everything together on your plate. You should have corn, rice, and corned beef with every forkful. If you like a little more spice in your life, add some hot sauce.

We hope learning about these Bahamian dishes has worked up your appetite! During your next visit, don't hesitate to ask your waiter, "Eh, let me get one chicken in da bag", or to serve you up a hot plate of tuna and grits. 

 If you are ready to taste Bahamian food like never before, discover our deals so you can start eating your way through all the scrumptious meals of The Bahamas!