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Common Starches Used In Caribbean Cuisine

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Every cuisine has different starches that are typically used in that cuisine. Most Asian cuisines feature rice as the primary starchy food, for example. One unique thing about Caribbean food is that there is quite a variety of different starches used. You will see a lot of rice dishes at Caribbean restaurants, but you will also see dishes made with or served with the following.

Cassava Root

Cassava is a root vegetable that grows underground in a manner similar to a potato. It is long and tubular, and it has a very starchy texture. It is often boiled and added to soups and stews. Cassava root can also be ground up and used as a thickener or an ingredient in baked goods. It does not have a lot of flavor on its own, so a lot of spices and seasonings need to be added to it. Jamaican bami is a flatbread made with cassava, and in Cuba, it is sometimes served with a savory chocolate sauce in a dish called cassava y mojo.

Taro Root

Taro is another starchy root vegetable similar to cassava. In some regions, it is called dasheen. Taro is usually boiled and mashed before being used. In Haiti, it is the base for deep-fried fritters called accra, and in Jamaica, it is used in the traditional pepper pot soup.


Corn is a hardy crop that has adapted to the Caribbean climate over the years, and thus, it has become quite common in the regional cuisines. It is usually baked or boiled into more complex dishes, rather than being served on its own as it is in the U.S. Corn pies are a traditional holiday food in Trinidad. In Barbados, corn is typically ground into cornmeal and then used to make either dumplings or a porridge.


The boniato is a sweeter tuber root often seen in Caribbean dishes. Sometimes, it is referred to as a batata. White on the inside, but red on the outside, it has a striking appearance. Its flavor is nutty and complex, and its texture is a bit firmer than that of the average yam. Boniato frito, or fried boniato, is popular in Cuba. In Jamaica, these tubers are often used to make hearty stews.

The next time you visit a Caribbean restaurant, keep your eyes out for these starchy ingredients on the menu. Each one is unique and adds something a bit different to the cuisine.