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Jamaican Porridge...The Anytime Meal Issue #005
August 17, 2004

Do you remember the story about Goldilocks and the Three Bears? Remember when the Bears ate up all the porridge? Well one of those bears must have been a Jamaican.

No, it’s not the hair! Say porridge and you have the answer.

Porridge is one of the main foods that Jamaicans eat anytime, for that matter. We eat porridge for breakfast, lunch, dinner, supper, and as an in-between-meal.

Okay, while I may not cover all the different types of porridges we make, rest assured you will get the low down on the main ones that we usually eat.

The most common porridge is Cornmeal Porridge. The old folks call it “Pop” or “Cog.” And this porridge is known as a sort of cleanser because the cornmeal is supposed to be rough enough to mildly pass through your digestive system. Honestly, I can’t agree or disagree with this belief, because I really don’t know if it’s true. I never checked. Never! I am only concerned about the taste of the porridge. Yah Mon!

Well here goes, Porridge Lovers:

1 cup Yellow Cornmeal (coarse or fine)

4 cups Water

¼ cup Half and Half (or Milk)

½ cup Sweetened Condensed Milk

2 tbsp. Sugar

¼ tsp. Nutmeg (ground)

¼ tsp. Cinnamon (ground)

Vanilla Flavoring (2 drops)

Add cornmeal to a bowl, and then pour enough water in the bowl to cover the cornmeal. Use a fork to mix the cornmeal in the bowl to let the water and cornmeal mix loose and watery.

Bring the 4 cups of water to boil in a saucepan. Turn the heat to medium. You must be careful from this point on. Slowly pour the water and cornmeal in the saucepan while stirring with a fork. You will have to stir the mix continuously for about 3 minutes. Make figure eight patterns if you like; this will stop the cornmeal from forming lumps. Be careful from this point on.

The porridge will splash and burn your hand if the heat is too high. Turn the fire down even more if the splashes from the pot become large. Cover the pot and let simmer for about twenty minutes.

Turn off the fire but do not remove the pot from the stove. Now add all the ingredients, except the nutmeg. Stir to sweeten the porridge and then taste it. Add more ingredients of your choice to get the desired taste. Serve in small soup bowls and sprinkle with ground nutmeg.

All right, if you are not able to digest milk you could substitute soymilk for regular milk in this porridge. Would like to go strictly Ital with this brew? The real Rasta man style? O.K. Remove the sugar, ground cinnamon, and all milk products.

Replace the milk and half & half with coconut milk, the sugar with honey, and the ground cinnamon with cinnamon leaves.

Ital Cornmeal Porridge tastes a little bit different from the “regular” type, but who cares, you da boss.

There is this fascination with oatmeal that one can only wonder why so many Jamaicans swear by this porridge. Oatmeal is regarded as one of Jamaica’s premier health foods. It is also used as an aphrodisiac in many local drinks that are responsible to “put it back.”

Eh, eh, eh…Yah Mon! So be it!

Oats Porridge (Oatmeal): 1 cup Oatmeal (minute Oats)

3 cups Water

2 tbsp. Half & Half

¼ cup Sweetened Condensed Milk

4 tbsp. Sugar Vanilla Flavoring (2 drops)

Pinch Nutmeg

Ground Cinnamon (pinch)

Bring water to boil in a saucepan and add oatmeal to boiling water. Reduce the heat to medium and let simmer for fifteen minutes. Sweeten this porridge using the same method as cornmeal porridge.

Green bananas are one of our major staple foods. They are usually eaten in combination with some animal protein like fish or meat. But somehow we’ve found a way to make this potato-tasting vegetable into porridge. Watch out Irish potato…you may be next!

Green Banana Porridge (or Green Plantain):

3 Green Bananas

¼ cup Half and Half (or Milk)

½ cup Sweetened Condensed Milk

4 tbsp. Sugar

5 cups Water

¼ tsp. Nutmeg (ground)

¼ tsp. Cinnamon (ground)

Vanilla Flavoring (3 drops)

Pinch Salt

Wash green bananas to remove dirt or foreign matter. Cut off the tips of each banana and make an incision along the whole length of the banana. Slowly slide your thumb along the incision and remove the skin from the vegetable.

Chop the bananas into small pieces and place them into an electric blender. Add the flour and ½ cup water. Turn the selector to chop for about 2 minutes.

You have to try to make the banana and flour mixture process until it is smooth.

Bring 4 ½ cups of water to boil in saucepan. Slowly add the mixture to the boiling water and stir the pot with a fork constantly for about 3 minutes. Remove lumps if there are any.

Let the banana porridge simmer for about 15 minutes and then sweeten and flavor the same as cornmeal porridge above.

Rice Porridge:

1 cup Rice

1 tbsp. Butter

¼ cup Half and Half (or Milk)

½ cup Sweetened Condensed Milk

2 tbsp. Sugar

5 cups Water

¼ tsp. Nutmeg (ground)

¼ tsp. Cinnamon (ground)

Vanilla Flavoring (1 drop)

½ tsp. Salt

½ cup Flour

Add rice, salt, butter, and 1 cup water to a saucepan. Bring ingredients to boil and immediately reduce heat to medium. Cover pot and allow rice to simmer for 12 minutes. Use a fork to stir rice and then taste it. Add the rest of the water to the rice, cook for another 12 minutes. Add water to the flour in a bowl to make a watery paste.

Beat the flour with a fork to make a smooth solution of flour and water. Slowly add the water and flour mix to the pot while stirring. Now add the half &half. Keep stirring the pot to make sure you have no lumps. Simmer for another 12 minutes and then sweeten and flavor.

Serve in bowls.

Cooking Tip:

You can add butter and/or raisins to any of these porridges to enhance the flavor.

Did you know that cinnamon is a false sweetener? Yes, cinnamon will trick your taste bud into thinking that some thing sweeter that it is, actually. So you can sometimes increase the cinnamon and decrease the sugar in your porridge; you’ll get a nice light flavor instead of that heavy sugar taste.


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