I’m just returning from a wonderful vacation in Jamaica W.I., where I discovered and absolutely fell in love with and tried all types of dishes – all true authentic Jamaican cuisine!
The most important part of the day is always breakfast! This is where one staple item became my recent love …,,,they are called bammies.
A bammy or bami is a traditional Jamaican cassava flatbread descended from the simple flatbread eaten by the Arawaks, Jamaica’s original inhabitants. Today, it is produced in many rural communities and sold in stores and by street vendors in Jamaica and abroad.
Bammies have been consumed since pre-Columbian times and is believed to have originated with the native Arawak people. For centuries, it was the bread staple for rural Jamaicans until the cheaper, imported wheat flour breads became popular in the post-World War II era.
Researching the facts while sipping my rum punch by the pool, I found out in the 1990s, the United Nations and the Jamaican government established a program to revive bammy production and to market it as a modern, convenient food product! So bammies are very, very important!
So what is a bammy made of? So I had my Aunt Vadney with me to tell me all about it in her British accent…. which was so special!
“Bammy is made from bitter cassava (also called yuca and manioc in other American cultures). Traditionally, the cassava is grated and placed in a press bag (woven with thatch leaves) and placed in an outdoor press where heavy stones are loaded on.
Once completely drained, but still a bit moist, the cassave is beaten in a mortar then sieved to a fine flour texture. Salt is then added to taste. The actual baking of bammies varies across Jamaica!
Spreading a handful of the flour evenly in a baking ring on a flat iron or griddle on the open fire. While baking, the top of the bammy is patted with a flat board and then turned over.”
The baking process takes about 3 minutes and the final product is a thin, foldable bread about 10″ in diameter. This is similar to traditional tortillas of Native American cultures. It can then be eaten with whatever fillings are desired.
For a more modern (and popular) approach is to bake thicker bammies about 6″ in diameter, mass-produced in factories. When home-baked, the flour may be store-bought or made by hand-pressing.
The bammy can be baked on griddles or in baking pans on a stove top. Some choose to bake it inside an oven, add butter and other spices before baking.
Baking takes longer due to the thickness, and the final product is then cut into halves or wedges for freezing. When ready to eat, the wedges are soaked in coconut milk and then fried to a golden brown and served with meat, fish, avocado or other side dishes. Aunt Vadney mentioned a little honey with a spot of tea is quite nice!
Bammies, like wheat bread and tortillas, are served at any meal or consumed as a snack. I fell in love with them and had it with my breakfast! Here’s the simple recipe!
1 pound Sweet cassava
A pinch of salt
1 tin of coconut milk
Peel the cassava
Wring out as much of the toxic juice as you can and discard the juice.
Divide the mixture up in to one-cup sized portions.
Flatten each portion in to a thick disc shape.
Add to a greased frying pan.
Fry each side of the Bammies over a medium heat for 8-10 minutes on each side.
Take out of the frying pan and soak in coconut milk for 5 minutes.
Place the Bammies back in the pan and fry until they are a light brown colour.
Then came the roasted yam with salt fish !!!! All I can say is HEAVEN! Hope you are now hungry!