Caribbean Spices

Photo credit: © Chris Curtis |

From cultural influences to tropical innovations learn more about the savory spices that give Caribbean cooking it's signature kick.

Spices are perhaps the most distinguishing element of West Indian cuisine. Pimento, or "allspice," combines the essentials of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg, and pepper, and is a common seasoning in West Indian cuisine, as is ginger. Nutmeg is also popular on several islands; it's grown on Grenada, which produces nearly a third of the world's crop.

Peppers, hot sauces and "dry rubs" are frequently featured in island specialties. Jerk, a fiery spice rub that employs the extremely hot Scotch Bonnet pepper along with ginger, pimento and nutmeg, is a popular method of marinating chicken, fish, and pork in Jamaica.

Not all West Indian dishes are hot and spicy, though. Traditional Cuban cuisine, though often well-spiced and infused with lime and garlic, is considered mild. In essence, every island has its own specialized flavors that add to the "spice" of dining in the Caribbean.


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