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. It has several versions throughout Italy, the Caribbean, and Africa.  In Italy, a similar version is called polenta.


Fine Cornmeal for Turn Cornmeal

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 this dish. However, when she did I enjoyed my mother’s turn cornmeal recipe very much. It 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 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

Cook 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 10 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.