It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas here in The Bahamas, with holiday decorations decking every hall and the sweet aroma of the season’s most cherished dishes wafting through the streets. Downtown Nassau is abuzz with excitement, and while we won’t have a white Christmas, we do have a full day of celebration planned with gifts, family merriment, and all the food one can eat!
Of course, we’ll make our tables groan with the weight of holiday favourites like roasted turkey, sweet hickory ham, savoury stuffing, and pumpkin pie, but we still pull out the big guns with down-home Bahamian dishes perfect for winter feasts.
Maybe this year, you’ll want to add something tropical to the mix of seasonal staples. Then look no further, here are some of our favourite Bahamian-holiday recipes, and a list of others in case you’re preparing for hibernation…
Credit: Recipe Great
Even if Bahamians hadn’t already claimed it, the Bahama Mama is probably the best-known drink of the country, making it our signature cocktail. It’s fruity and dark, rich and smooth, and perfect as a festive beverage. Transport your celebrations to the tropics with this exquisite Bahamian cocktail.
2 oz orange juice
2 oz pineapple juice
1 ½ oz dark rum
1 oz coconut rum
½ oz grenadine
Cherries and pineapple pieces
Combine orange juice, pineapple juice, dark rum, coconut rum, and grenadine and shake well with ice. Serve in a tall glass, using cherries and pineapple pieces for garnish.
Even More Delightful Bahamian Cocktail Recipes:
Credit: Timothy Maguire
Lionfish aren’t indigenous to The Bahamas, but they’ve flourished in our waters and have made themselves right at home in our coves. So, just as we do with the proverbial lemon, Bahamian fishermen and chefs have taken the lionfish and come up with creative ways to eat it in order to keep the population under control and to capitalize on an amazing tasting fish! Our favorite rendition is Lionfish Tacos, which are a great introduction to a Bahamian-styled feast.
Oil for deep frying
1 cup flour
8 flour tortillas
¼ head cabbage
½ red bell pepper
1 green bell pepper
1 goat pepper
2 cloves garlic
½ cup fresh cilantro
½ cup sour cream
Preheat deep fryer oil to 350 degrees. Wash lionfish and cut into 8 fillets. Marinate fillets in lime juice, salt, and pepper. Coat fillets in flour, then deep fry until golden brown. Shred the cabbage and julienne peppers. Combine with garlic, cilantro, and sour cream. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Place one fillet and 2 tablespoons of cabbage mix on one flour tortilla. Sprinkle with extra lime juice, if desired.
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This entree is so good and so Bahamian, we even serve it on our Bites of Nassau Food Tour! Steamed chicken is a popular Bahamian dish that looks and tastes nothing like its name implies. Instead of using boiling water to steam the meat, we make a tomato sauce and braise the meat, creating a sultry dish that ideal for any occasion. Add some Caribbean flair to your next holiday feast with a heaping portion of steamed chicken.
1 lb shredded chicken (or 2 lbs chicken winglets)
1-2 tbsp canola oil
½ onion, diced
¼ green bell pepper, diced
⅛ goat pepper, diced
2 tbsp tomato paste
6 tbsp ketchup
14 oz diced tomatoes
1 tsp thyme
½ tsp garlic powder
1-2 bay leaves
½ tsp black pepper
Heat oil in a large pot, then sauté onions and peppers. Once sautéed, add shredded chicken. Once chicken is browned, add tomato paste and ketchup and heat for another 2-3 minutes. Add diced tomatoes to the pot, along with thyme, garlic powder, bay leaves, and black pepper. Let simmer for 30-45 minutes on low heat. Serve with pretty much anything!
Even More Hearty Bahamian Entree Recipes:
Credit: Homemade Zagat
If you’re looking for an easy, yet delicious side dish, this one is absolutely perfect. Fried plantains are a ubiquitous Caribbean favourite, but while many other island nations specialize in spicy, crisp chips, we here in The Bahamas like our plantains nice and soft and sweet! They pair well with most meats and you can eat all you want without feeling too guilty! Another great reason why they’re a staple part of any holiday feast in The Bahamas.
2 ripened plantains
4 tbsp canola oil
Choose plantains that are ripened enough to sport brown spots. This indicates that the plantain is ripe enough to be sweet, but not so ripe that they fall apart. Slice the plantains at an 45 degree angle along its length, each slice being about ¼-½ inch wide. Heat the canola oil and add plantain slices, frying until golden brown and crispy on each side. Serve immediately.
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Credit: Tru Bahamian Food Tours
For us Bahamians, as much as we enjoy this fruit in its pure form, the most common and celebrated way to eat guava is in our famed “guava duff”. This traditional Bahamian recipe combines guava fruit, a sweet dough and a special rum or brandy butter sauce to drizzle on top. It’s perfect for all seasonal celebrations!
12 guavas, peeled (or 14 oz canned guava shells)
½ cup sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp allspice, ground
4 cups flour
3 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
¾ cup shortening
¾ cup milk
1 egg, beaten
Rum Butter Ingredients:
1 cup confectioners sugar
¼ cup butter
1 tsp boiling water; dash of salt
2 tbsp rum or brandy to taste
Peel guavas, cut in half and remove seeds. Dice the guava and strain to remove juice, saving the juice to flavour sauce if desired. Place the guava in saucepan and cover with water. Add sugar, cinnamon and allspice, the simmer until fruit is soft.
In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking powder and salt. Cut in shortening. Stir in milk and egg to form a soft dough. Knead until smooth. Roll out like a jelly roll on a floured board. Place the guava pieces on the center of the dough and roll over until the dough is spiraled with guava. Seal edges carefully. Wrap dough in a cotton or linen bag, or foil and parchment paper, tie the top securely and put into a large pot of boiling water for 1 hour or more if necessary to set the duff.
Rum Butter Directions:
Cream butter until soft, but not melted. Beat confectioners sugar in gradually. Add boiling water, salt and rum or brandy. Beat until smooth and fluffy. Cut the guava duff into 1-2 inch slices with a 1-2 tablespoons of Rum Butter Glaze melted on top.
Even More Decadent Bahamian Dessert Recipes:
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