Authentic Bahamian Dishes and How To Enjoy
If you've had the chance to visit Nassau Paradise Island, you know that Bahamian cuisine is unlike anything else. Fresh flavours and curated spices are a given—from the melt-in-your-mouth conch fritters to the crave-worthy conch chowder, these dishes will leave you dreaming of your next Bahamian meal. 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
There's no better way to start your morning in The Bahamas than with a hearty breakfast. 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 opting for something a bit more Bahamian.
No Bahamian breakfast dish is truly complete without grits. Grits to Bahamians are like maple bacon to Canadians or croissants to the French, and there are countless ways to enjoy it for breakfast, but we recommend trying two of the most famous. Grits and steamed sardines and steamed sausage and grits.
Steamed sardines should be prepared with the freshest vegetables, which give the dish even more of an oomph! If you’re a bit hesitant about trying steamed sardines, give steamed sausages a try. This dish is effortless to make and requires very few ingredients, including sausages, onions, bell peppers, goat pepper, thyme, and garlic in a tomato-based sauce. Follow the recipe below to recreate this truly authentic Bahamian dish. However, if you you’d like to opt to have it prepared locally, we recommend visiting Nesbitt's Restaurant & Lounge.
Steamed Sausages Breakfast Ingredients:
- 4-6 sausages cut into quarters
- ½ onion, sliced
- ½ bell pepper, sliced
- 2 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1 sprig of thyme
- ¼ teaspoon goar pepper
- ¼ cup water
- Salt to taste
- Oil for sautéing
Heat a bit of oil over medium heat in a large skillet or frying pan. Add the sliced onions and bell peppers. Sauté them until they soften and turn golden brown, about 5-7 minutes.
Add the minced garlic, thyme, and goat pepper to the skillet. Stir everything together and cook for another 1-2 minutes until the spices become fragrant. Push the sautéed aromatics to the sides of the skillet to make room for the sausages in the centre. Place the sausages in the skillet. Pour the water around the sausages in the skillet. This will create steam to cook the sausages and help to infuse them with flavour. Cover and Steam.
Souse, Chicken Souse!
Another staple of Bahamian breakfast is chicken souse. While we often enjoy chicken souse at breakfast time, you can eat it 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. While most people enjoy having a slice on the side and eating it separately 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!
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 by saying it is a Bahamian classic. It is the go-to lunch for Bahamians. It's fried chicken, thighs and breasts, served over a bed of french fries. The following condiments are essential: ketchup, plenty of hot sauce, and mayo! One of the best places to grab a plate of chicken in da bag is at Bamboo Shack. 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. Locals make this soup during the summer when the crabs are abundant.
Call da Fire Engine, Tell Them Come Quick!
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". This meal is corned beef, white rice, and canned corn — not canned cream corn! The colour combination of white, yellow, and red gives the dish its name. This dish's ingredients mix salty, savoury, and spicy flavours. 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 flavour. If you don't believe us, try the recipe below for yourselves. And just to note, you can also enjoy corn beef 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
On medium-high heat, sweat the onion, green bell pepper, garlic, and thyme in a large frying pan with vegetable oil until translucent.
Add all remaining ingredients into the frying pan, stirring regularly until the corned beef is heated throughout and becomes a smooth consistency.
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.
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