What Is Festival Jamaican Food?

Despite what the name may imply, festival Jamaican food is not served just at festivals! A real Jamaican classic, festival Jamaican food is the festival dumpling, which is a sweet and versatile treat that is great to eat whenever you want, with whatever you want!

Let’s take a look at what exactly a festival dumpling is, how it differs from any other fried dumpling, some of the best ways to enjoy it, and where to get your hands on them when visiting Jamaica.

What Is a Festival Dumpling?

A festival dumpling is characterized as being crispy on the outside and soft and fluffy on the inside (as many of the world’s best foods are!).

They have a sweet taste and are suitable for people of all ages to enjoy alongside their main meals.

Commonly served as a side dish and a form of street food, these dumplings are both easy to find if you’re traveling in Jamaica or easy to make if you’re stuck at home!

Jamaica jerk chicken

Festival Dumplings vs. Fried Dumplings

While fried dumplings and festival dumplings may, at first glance, appear to be very similar, there is one main difference between the two: cornmeal.

When it comes to fried dumplings, these are typically created with plain flour, salt, and water. However, festival dumplings use a flour and cornmeal combination and include brown sugar in their recipe. These ingredients are key when it comes to creating the perfect Jamaican festival dumpling. 

The cornmeal is what ensures a perfect crispy coating on the outside of the dumpling and makes the texture more dense, while the brown sugar gives it the famously sweet taste.

How to Eat Festival Jamaican Food

Jamaican festival dumplings are at their best when served warm, so if you’re cooking them at home, be sure to eat them while fresh. After a day, they can become dry and chewy; this is really not how you want to experience them! So to enjoy them to the fullest, it’s best to serve up some authentic Jamaican food alongside them and eat while they’re hot.

Yep, you heard me, they’re served alongside other traditional Jamaican foods.

While these dumplings may be sweet, this doesn’t mean they’re reserved as a snack or an after-dinner treat. Instead, they’re often eaten as an accompaniment for a multitude of traditional Jamaican foods, such as saltfish dishes, escovitch fish, or jerk chicken.

Where to Find Festival Dumplings in Jamaica?

Festival dumplings can be found all over Jamaica, at many restaurants, street food stalls, snack bars, and beachside cafes. 

As they’re such a staple and served as a side dish to so many popular meals, they’re super easy to find.

So next time you head out to Jamaica, why not try some alongside your jerk chicken or saltfish? You’re sure to love it!

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