12 Grenadian Foods Every Island Transplant Should Try


04.28.2021

Anyone headed to Grenada probably intends to enjoy some seafood here and there. However, Grenadian cuisine is known for much more than just that.

We’ve compiled a list of the dishes you should add to your taste-testing list. Whether you visit the island regularly, are visiting for the first time, or are becoming a temporary resident while going to school, you will want to dig into these Grenadian foods.

Your guide to Grenada cuisine: 12 foods to try

We spoke with Colin Dowe, Grenadian-born associate dean of enrollment planning at St. George’s University, to get his take on the must-try Grenadian foods to track down. Follow his advice to get a true taste of the island.

1. Start your day with bakes

Wake up the Grenadian way with this hearty breakfast. Preparations vary, but the bakes are a type of bread that can either be baked in the oven or fried in hot oil. They’re typically made from flour, water, baking soda, and salt, but Dowe says some people like to add a bit of sugar or coconut milk for flavor.

It’s common to pair this breakfast bread with souse-made salt fish. “You boil [the salt fish] a couple of times, and then you strip it and add tomatoes, green peppers, onions, and some people will boil an egg and cut it up in there as well,” Dowe advises.

2. Warm up with a cup of cocoa tea

If you enjoy hot chocolate, you’ll want to sip a cup of cocoa tea along with your bakes. This warm breakfast beverage is packed with flavor. “It will be stronger [than hot chocolate], and you can expect bay leaves and cinnamon added to it,” Dowe explains.

3. Get your greens with callaloo soup

Callaloo, also known as dasheen leaf, is an ingredient you probably won’t find outside the Caribbean, so take advantage while you can. The taste is somewhat similar to spinach, making it ideal for soup. The creamy concoction  often includes coconut milk and is a restaurant staple.

“If you’re looking for a must-have starter at a restaurant, I would say you don’t come to Grenada and start a meal without a bowl of callaloo soup,” Dowe says.

4. Grab a roti for the road

If you love street food, be sure to dig into some rotis while you’re in Grenada. These Indian-influenced wraps are filled with a curried meat or vegetable filling. You can find them all over—Fodor’s Travel says they’re even more popular than sandwiches, which means you can always grab one when you need a meal on the go.

Dowe provides a word of caution for first-timers: The meat preparations typically have bones, so be careful.

5. Try oildown for a taste of history

a href="https://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2016/09/11/493157111/this-hearty-stew-is-a-one-pot-lesson-in-grenadas-history%22 /t %22_blank">Oildown is Grenada’s national dish. This savory one-pot meal is usually prepared once a week or during anniversary of Independence celebrations across the island. The most essential ingredients are coconut milk, turmeric, breadfruit, and callaloo and you can add any meat, seafood or just stick with vegetables. “And then after that, it’s a matter of style,” Dowe says.

If you think oildown sounds like a little bit of this and a little bit of that, you’re right. “The history of it—and this is very common for national dishes as you move through the islands—tracks back to slaves on plantations whose meals were leftovers from the slave owners,” Dowe explains.

"It brings together friends. It brings together family."

Oildown is a staple dish at any type of celebration. If you attend any festivals or cultural celebrations, you’re sure to find this iconic one-pot. “It brings together friends. It brings together family. It keeps communities together,” Dowe adds.

6. Get adventurous with lambi

Known to some people as conch, lambi in Grenada is usually served in a stew or curry. It’s a Grenadian favorite that’s best for adventurous eaters. “This one is an acquired taste, of course, because of the texture,” Dowe says, referring to the somewhat toothsome quality.

7. Order crab back for a fun and flavorful dish

The land crabs in Grenada taste much like their sea-bound cousins. Crab back is a popular preparation. For this dish, the crab is mixed with spices, stuffed back into the cleaned shell, topped with breadcrumbs, and then baked. The dramatic presentation makes crab back a perfect dish for a fun night out.

8. Try pelau for a new spin on chicken and rice

Many cuisines have some sort of chicken and rice dish, and pelau is Grenada’s version. Though it can be as simple as seasoned chicken and rice, pigeon peas, corn, and carrots are also common ingredients. “You might add some coconut milk to the water as well—for flavor,” Dowe explains.

9. Celebrate with sorrel drink

This vivid red beverage is a must during the holiday season—when sorrel flowers are in bloom. Recipes typically include a handful of spices and some type of sweetener to offset the tartness. Dowe notes most versions contain alcohol as well: “If you’re going to someone’s home, nine out of ten times, there will be white rum in the sorrel drink.”

10. Try out your baking skills with sweet potato pudding

This dessert probably sounds appealing if you enjoy sweet potato pie. In fact, the combination of cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger in this dish gives it a similar flavor. Those who aren’t afraid to take on the kitchen will feel pretty comfortable making this one themselves.

11. Taste local chocolate to satisfy your sweet tooth

Cocoa tea is just the beginning for chocolate lovers visiting Grenada. The island has a number of companies that make delicious dark chocolate. You can opt for plain bars, but Dowe suggests trying the nutmeg-spiced version from Jouvay.

12. Grab nutmeg ice cream to cool down

Grenada grows and exports a significant amount of nutmeg, so it only makes sense that the spice frequently appears in popular dishes. Nutmeg ice cream is a Grenadian favorite, which you can find at most restaurants. You can also make it yourself if you have an ice cream machine.

A taste of Grenada

Every year, thousands of students make their temporary home in Grenada to attend St. George’s University. If you’re one of them, trying these Grenadian foods is a great way to immerse yourself in the culture.

If you’re looking for other ways to spend your time on the island, check out our article “10 Fun Things to Do in Grenada in Your Spare Time.”

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