Turn Cornmeal

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This version of Turn Cornmeal is a Jamaican style seasoned cornmeal cooked in coconut milk with pigeon peas, aromatic herbs and, spices. It is flavorful and quite a tasty dish on its own or served with a stew or curry.

Turn Cornmeal


Fine Cornmeal for Turn Cornmeal

What is Turn Cornmeal?

Turn Cornmeal is basically a savory dish of boiled cornmeal or polenta, this boiled cornmeal can be made as simple with water and salt or seasoned with herbs, spices, vegetables and even meat. Turn Cornmeal has several versions throughout Italy, Caribbean, and Africa.  In Italy, a similar version is called polenta.

In Barbados,  it is called Cou Cou, their national dish along with fried flying fish. In Antigua, Barbuda, Virgin Islands, St. Martin, Curacao it is called Fungi.  On some of the islands, okra is substituted with the local cactus.

In African countries, similar versions of turned cornmeal, are called, Pap, Nsima, Ugali and, polenta in Italy.

Cornmeal is cooked in seasoned coconut milk, it is similar to cooked to polenta. It is popular in Jamaica and throughout the Caribbean.

Growing up in Jamaica, my mother rarely made turn cornmeal. However, when she did I enjoyed my mother’s turn cornmeal recipe very much. Turn cornmeal was loved by many people in Jamaica but unfortunately, it was shunned by some people because it also had a stigma for being food for the poor and dogs.

Now that I’m grown, I’m proud to prepare this flavorful turn cornmeal dish. It brings back fond memories of my childhood. I have also enjoyed eating Turn Cornmeal Aka Fungi or Fungee in Antigua and Curacao.

Turn Cornmeal Step by Step Photos

How To Make Turn Cornmeal Jamaican Style

It is easy to make turn cornmeal recipe, place water, coconut milk in a large saucepan. Add seasonings, onion, garlic, green onion, thyme, allspice, pigeon peas, salt and bring to a boil.

This method is similar to how I make Jamaican Rice and Peas, except that I add cornmeal instead of rice.

I added the pigeon peas for added protein and flavor. You can find pigeon peas in Caribbean grocers or online. It is also called gungo peas or gandule in Puerto Rico.

As soon as the seasoned coconut milk starts boiling, I slowly pour cornmeal in a steady stream into the boiling liquid with my left-hand while,  I’m constantly stirring.with my right hand.  I keep stirring making sure all the cornmeal is fully coated without dry spots.

Next. I cover the saucepan and reduce heat to the lowest setting and allow turn cornmeal to cook for 10 minutes. After the first 10 minutes, I stir the cornmeal and cover and cook for another 10 minutes. Grain should be swollen, soft and taste cooked.

I served mine with Curry Cabbage and it was enjoyed by all even my hubby who doesn’t really care for it since he was affected by the stigma attached to it.

Jamaican Turn Cornmeal With Curry Cabbage

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(Per portion)
  • Energy: 305 kcal / 1275 kJ
  • Fat: 16 g
  • Protein: 6 g
  • Carbs: 36 g

Cooking Time

  • Preparation: 10 min
  • Cooking: 20 min
  • Ready in: 30 min
  • For:
  • 8 Servings



  1. Pour coconut milk, water, pigeon peas, garlic. onion, green onion, thyme, allspice, garlic powder, butter, salt and pepper in a large saucepan on medium-high. Bring to boil.
  2. Slowly pour cornmeal while stirring constantly with a large spoon until thickened. Reduce heat to low, cover and allow to cook for about 10 minutes. Uncover, stir and cover again to cook for another 110 more minutes.
Recipe author's Gravatar image

Michelle Blackwood, RN

Hi, I’m Michelle, I’m the voice, content creator and photographer behind Healthier Steps. I share vegan and gluten-free recipes because of past health issues. My goal is to help you make healthier choices and show you how healthy eating is easy and delicious.

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  1. Nicole
    February 6, 2021

    In Curacao this dish is called “Tutu”. Its made with less ingredients and we mash the pigeon peas before adding the cornmeal. I will have try this recipe. Keep it coming!

  2. shan
    January 28, 2021

    My mother use to cook this for me as a child. I am grown now with my own family and going to try this for the first time hope it turn out good

  3. Joan
    August 8, 2020

    Stumbled on your site, going to try cooking the Jamaican style Turn Cornmeal. Looking for more vegan style recipes. Thanks for sharing!

  4. Roger Williams
    June 16, 2020

    Michelle, I stumbled on your Turn Cornmeal recipe while looking for something to use pigeon peas and cornmeal together. I haven’t done it yet (this weekend), but I can tell it will be good.

    Tell your husband this: The poor people in Maine didn’t eat lobsters a long while ago. It was seen as poor peoples’ food. They put lobsters on the crops. Now, I think you might agree, we think differently. Moreover, something like this recipe is so good for your health! My microbiome is going to be happy! And if the microbiome ain’t happy, ain’t no body happy (to coin a phrase…)!

    I look forward to checking out the rest of your website. I lived in Haiti for 2 years, and still make pikliz, soupe joumou, and rice and beans. But I’d like to know others, or know other takes on these recipes.

    • Michelle Blackwood, RN
      June 16, 2020

      Roger, I’m so happy you found my recipe and website. I can’t wait to hear your feedback. Thank you for sharing your background stories, ain’t that something about lobsters! I find that so many of the dishes throughout the Caribbean are similar!

    October 19, 2019

    I had fungi in St. Croix in 2001. I was eating vegetarian to vegan at the time and found it easy to eat out in St. Croix. I think there is or was a community of 7th Day Adventist there when I visited. I love your recipe btw, but skipped the hot chili because of GERD. I plan to cook more tomorrow with a fried plantain. Thanks for sharing this.

    • Michelle Blackwood
      October 19, 2019

      Celeste,that’s awesome. I realize a version of this dish is throughout the Caribbean. I’m also a 7th Day Adventist.I’m happy you are enjoying my recipes and please share my website with your friends and family. Thank you for your feedback.

      • Lily
        February 9, 2021

        I’m 7th day too! I had no idea you were. I recommend your site to everyone! Since 2019 when I stumbled on it. <3

        • Michelle Blackwood, RN
          February 9, 2021

          Lily that is so awesome, I’m so happy you found my website, and thank you so much for sharing it, I really appreciate your support.

  6. Debbie
    May 11, 2019

    Dear Michelle my favourite corn flour sister meal of starch is South african phuthu I love it.

  7. Nicole
    July 9, 2018

    Wow! Thanks for the info! I went to South Africa once and they had something similar and I think it was called “pop”. I would try this.

  8. Vaishali
    July 9, 2018

    Wow..this is a completely new recipe as well as a concept for me. I will try it with brown chickpeas.

  9. sri mallya
    July 8, 2018

    This is something new to me. Love the flavor and color. Sounds so interesting!

  10. Sharon
    July 8, 2018

    This dish sure looks phenomenal! Can’t wait to try this with our next curry night.

  11. Claire
    July 8, 2018

    I’m not very familiar with turned cornmeal, but I am just loving all the colours and flavours in this dish!
    Can’t wait to give it a try :D

  12. Leslie
    July 8, 2018

    I’ve never heard of turn cornmeal, but it sounds delicious. I love the heat from the Scotch bonnet in this dish.

  13. Saima
    July 8, 2018

    Turn Cornmeal sounds like a really interesting recipe. Not familiar with Jamaican food, but I enjoyed reading about the history behind it (both personal and otherwise). It was a beautiful window into another culture, time and place.

  14. Kiki Johnson
    July 7, 2018

    WOW! This is different! I think I have eaten something similar in Jamaica once and it was delicious! I love the coconut milk and all the spices in this one! I will defs try this out!

  15. Veena Azmanov
    July 6, 2018

    You added coconut milk and that alone sounds so delicious with cornmeal. I have never made turn cornmeal but this sounds so wonderful. Saving this for later. Got to try. Love it.

  16. Christine
    July 6, 2018

    I’ve never had turn cornmeal before, but this looks delicious! I would definitely love to try it out. So yummy!

  17. Jenni LeBaron
    July 5, 2018

    I love polenta so I’m positive I would love this. The coconut milk sounds great in this!

  18. Nicoletta Sugarlovespices
    July 3, 2018

    I know polenta, being Italian, and I can imagine the flavors of this Turn Cornmeal when cooked in coconut milk and additional herbs and spices! Yum!!