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Monday, 26 May 2008


These tasty snacks arrived in the Caribbean islands by way of South America, where they use banana leaves as a wrapper. The leaves are available, frozen, in Asian markets. To soften them for use, thaw them out and pass them over a gas flame, or place them in a bowl and pour boiling water over them.


At a glance
Cooking Method
Heat Level
Appetizer/Hors d'oeuvre
Side Dish

For the Filling:

  • ½ pound ground pork

  • 1 large onion, minced

  • 1 clove garlic, crushed

  • 1 habanero chile, seeds removed, minced

  • 1 cup diced yams

  • 1 cup cooked black beans

  • 1 teaspoon minced thyme

  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar

  • 1 teaspoon minced basil

  • 2 tomatoes, peeled and chopped

  • 4 tablespoons capers, chopped

  • 4 tablespoons raisins

  • 3/4 cup beef stock

For the Dough:

  • 3 cups coarse cornmeal

  • 2 tablespoons shortening

  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil

  • 2 teaspoons salt

  • 2 3/4 cups boiling water

  • 3 to 4 banana leaves, cut in 8- by 10-inch rectangles


Sauté the pork in a skillet until it is browned. Add the onion, garlic, and habanero and sauté for an additional couple of minutes. Add the remaining filling ingredients, bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer for 45 minutes. Remove and cool.

To make the dough, cut the shortening into the cornmeal using a pastry cutter or two forks. Stir in the oil and salt. Pour the boiling water over the cornmeal and mix well to form a smooth dough. Form the dough into 18 balls.

Place a ball of the dough in the center of a banana leaf and press to form a circle 1/4-inch thick. Spread 2 tablespoons of the filling in center. Fold half of the leaf over, bringing the cornmeal with it. Flatten into a rectangle, then repeat with other half of the rectangle so that the dough encloses the meat. Fold up the leaf rectangle to make a package and tie together with string.

Place in a pan of boiling salted water and simmer for 1 ½ hours. Remove and drain.

Serve with your favorite Caribbean hot sauce.


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