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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.
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.
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- 2 cups coconut milk
- 2 cups water
- 1 1/2 cups pigeon peas/gungo, cooked
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 small onion, finely chopped
- 2 green onions, chopped
- 4 sprig fresh thyme, or 1 teaspoon dried
- 1/4 teaspoon allspice
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 tablespoon Vegan Butter, (I used Earth Balance Buttery Spread)
- 1 teaspoons salt
- 1 Scotch Bonnet pepper
- 2 cups fine cornmeal
- 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.
- 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.