Food in the Caribbean can be thought of as a great fusion of cultures. The Caribbean includes The Bahamas, Jamaica, Cuba, Puerto Rico, Saint Lucia, Antigua and Barbuda, Trinidad and Tobago, Guyana and Suriname among other countries. Many ingredients such as fresh fruits and vegetables, only found in this region, were used to cook by the natives, but the colonization led by the Europeans played an important role in the formation of the cuisine of the Caribbean as we know it nowadays.
Pre-Columbian and colonial times
Before colonization, the natives had plenty of ingredients at their disposal. They used to hunt wild animals, gather wild plants and cultivate fruits and vegetables. The weather had a great impact on locals’ diets: corn, cassava, peas, yams and herbs such as lemongrass and bay leaves were harvested when available depending on the season, so meals varied a lot depending on the time of the year. Hunters would cook meat in the humid forests and they would also use salt and spices to preserve them, a key and vital move in the tropical heat.
In 1493 Cristopher Columbus led a number of voyages dedicated to exploring the Caribbean. These journeys led to a cultural meeting of flavors. The Spaniards introduced some of their staple foods such as olive oil, garlic, radishes, chickpeas, carrots and rice and even brought with them their livestock like pigs, goats and sheep, which spread and multiplied quite quickly in the islands. These foods fused together with the natives’ ingredients, giving birth to the Caribbean cuisine as we know it today.
However fascinating the history of savory cuisine in the Caribbean may be, we owe ourselves to get to know and try some of their delicious sweet desserts. A variety of puddings, cakes, custards and ice-creams can be found as staple desserts of this region. Almost all of their recipes will include sweet and fresh fruits like mangoes, pineapple, papayas, or coconuts since they are in great abundance all over the Caribbean. Some of the most popular desserts include toto, which is a popular cake from Jamaica made with spices, rum, raisins and grated coconut. Soursop ice cream is another example, made with condensed milk, cornstarch, water and soursop and a number of different puddings like sweet potatoes or rice puddings.
Today, we present you with the best rice pudding recipe for you to try. Not only you’ll love how easy and quick this can be made, but also you’ll be able to bring some of the heat and the fun of the Caribbean to the comfort of your home!
Sweet Rice Pudding
- ¾ cup of white rice.
- 2 cups of milk of choice.
- ⅓ cup Cane sugar.
- 1 egg.
- ⅔ Cup of raisins.
- 1 tablespoon of butter.
- 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract.
- 1 pinch of salt.
- First, you have to start by rinsing your rice. Clean it thoroughly under running water and drain it using a strainer.
- Place the rice in a large-sized saucepan and pour one and a half cups of water. Bring this to a boil, and stir the rice so that it does not stick to your pan.
- Once the water boils, lower the heat to low, cover with a lid and let it simmer for about twenty minutes. Wait until the rice is fluffy but not completely cooked. Leave it aside.
- Grab another saucepan and add one and a half cups of milk of your choice, sugar cane, the almost-cooked rice and a pinch of salt. Let this mixture heat up again. Cover it and wait until the rice absorbs the milk and rice completely (about 15-20 minutes). The mixture should be creamy and thick now.
- In a separate bowl, crack an egg and beat it. Add this beaten egg together with the raisins and the remaining half a cup of milk to the mixture. Stir constantly. After about two to three minutes, take away from the heat, add the vanilla extract and a tablespoon of butter. Cover it and set it aside.
- Serve warm and enjoy!
You may also try caramelizing some nuts in a saucepan and adding this to your dessert to give it an extra crunchy texture.
This will yield about four servings and it is a delicious Caribbean-style dessert ready to be enjoyed by yourself after a pleasant dinner or at a special gathering with all your family or friends!