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September 30, 2007

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Rasta Pasta

The other day Mavis and I had a conversation about Rasta Pasta and its origin. We could not come up with the origin of the dish, even though we served it many times at our restaurants, for years. Although we had a cult following for this dish, we were always amazed at the compliments and kudos from the same people all the time who continued their never- ending support for this fare.

With all that said, the name Rasta Pasta was still a mystery to me, as I know many Rastas would not associate with this dish because, after all, it is not ITAL. In addition, pasta is not an integral part of the Jamaican Rastafarian diet. As most of us Jamaicans are exposed to eating noodles in soups or eating macaroni with saltfish and/or bully beef, Rastafarians know that these foods are ‘Babylon food’ and will shun the very thought of including them in their diet at anytime…at least in my neck of the woods.

Well, back in ’93 when Mavis worked at Rosemarie’s Caribbean Café in Atlanta, she served this vegetarian dish, Rasta Pasta. It was merely another choice in the vegetarian section of Caribbean Café’s menu. Before that, Mavis had never heard of this dish…even in Jamaica. In addition, you may not know this, but Jamaican restaurants generally did not serve Rasta foods. You would have to go find a Nyabinghi (another name for Rastafarian) cook if you want eat like that. Even though I regard Rastas as the coolest people on the planet, some of their ways are a bit unnerving, too. Such as refusing to eat from females, that they don’t know…that behavior has alienated them and their delicious foods from many Jamaican restaurants.

In essence, they have not properly protected their brand (foods) from misinterpretation, misrepresentation, and other subjective leanings. This inaction has led to numerous spin offs on Rastafarian culinary authenticity, too. Among them,.. Rasta Pasta. This is so because Rastas usually don’t have any single leader, or hierarchical figure, who would strongly oppose the misuse of their name for commercial purposes.

Another shocking revelation to the already pasta surprise then, was that some people ordered this dish with shrimp… JAH KNOW. This is adding insult to injury because the Rastafarian food laws prohibit eating shell food…no crustaceans at all..No Iya.

So, now you know why I could not come up with the origin of this vegetarian dish that breaks the Rasta’s food laws. It is not orthodox Jamaican Rastafarian, or has anything to do with their creating it.

So is Rasta Pasta a farce? No Mon!. Here’s why. This dish has to do with the colors of the vegetables one uses to make this dish-Red, Gold, and Green. Another thing about this is, it is usually a cooked vegetarian dish with pasta added. The name Pasta also rhymes with Rasta…some of the coolest people on the planet, of course. And, in my opinion, to give kudos to some these cool people…hence Rasta Pasta.

Auntie Mae Mae's Rasta Pasta

½ green Bell Pepper (sliced or diced)

½ Red Bell Pepper (sliced or diced)

½ Yellow Bell Pepper (sliced or diced)

2 Cloves Garlic

1 Medium Onion

1 tsp Ginger (ground)

4 tbsp. Cooked Red Kidney Beans

Cooked Pasta

Coconut Oil

2 tbsp Jamaica Curry Powder

1 tsp Black Pepper

1 tspSalt

1 tsp Seasoned Salt



1 oz. Butter

Turn the fire to high and then add about ¼ cup of coconut oil to the skillet. Wait until the oil is hot and then turn the down the fire to medium. Add the curry powder to the warm oil.

Use a cooking spoon to stir the curry around for about a minute or so, and then add the onion bell peppers, garlic, and ginger. Add ¼ cup of water to the skillet now (be careful with the water because hot oil and water don’t like each other). Add salt to taste. Sauté and then add the broccoli and cauliflower. Now add ½ cup of water to the pot and cook the ingredients for five minutes.

Add the pasta all other ingredients and simmer for another five minutes. Now taste the pot.

If you still have too much water in the pot and you want to get thick gravy, drain the gravy into another skillet or saucepan and thicken it by evaporating.

If the precooked pasta is too soft, you may not want that. So be careful when you cooked the pasta at first that you don’t overcook them.


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