This Jamaican cornmeal dumplings recipe is quick, easy using 4 ingredients. Dumplings are a great carbohydrate enriched addition for soup and stews.
Just like any other culture out there dumplings play a crucial role for many Caribbean islands. The good news for you is that they aren’t overly complex to make and only require a small amount of ingredients. It is simply a case of making a dough ball and then shaping it and then boiling it alone or as part of a cuisine.
What is a dumpling
A dumpling is a ball of dough made primarily from flour, water and baking powder (although this is optional for some) that is either boiled or fried. In the Jamaican cultural there are a few variations of dumpling.
- Fried dumpling (this can be sweet or savoury) (known as johnny cakes)
- Boiled dumpling – cassava, green banana, cornmeal or a Plain Flour Dumpling
Fried dumplings can be eaten alone as an appetizer or used to accompany a recipe i.e Saltfish and callaloo or the Jamaican national dish Ackee and saltfish . Boiled dumpling are more dense in texture, for that reason they aren’t generally eaten by themselves.
If you are making a stew i.e chicken, stew peas you want to may include them, alternatively, soup is a more popular choice for their addition .i.e mutton soup, manish water, Chicken Soup etc…
Today I’m going to be showing you a basic tutorial of how to boil some wheat free, no gluten cornmeal dumplings. This will give you an idea of what they are and how to use them accordingly.
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Ingredients you will need
- Gluten free flour (I recommend Bob Red Mills 1 to 1 flour)
- Cornmeal (fine)
- Himalayan pink salt
How to make Jamaican cornmeal dumplings
- Fill ½ of a large pot with water, sprinkle in ¼ tsp of pink salt and bring it to a boil then reduce the heat to medium (picture 1).
- Grab a medium sized bowl and place the flour, pink salt and cornmeal (picture 2)
- Mix all 3 ingredients together so the cornmeal is blended in with the flour.
- Slowly pour in the water, a bit at a time, and use your hands to mix the flour to make a big ball of dough. The dough should be pliable, not too sticky and not too stuff/flour based. Add more water (1tbsp at time or flour 1tbsp at a time if needed) (picture 3-5).
- Once you have formed a huge dough ball, break off a piece of the dough and use both hands to form into a ball about the size of a golf ball (picture 6).
- Flatten the ball to about ½” thick disc into one hand and use your thumb to make a dip in the middle (picture 7-8).
- Carefully lower the dumpling into the pot (use a slotted spoon if you aren’t feeling confident) and then repeat the same process (picture 9).
- Once all of the dumplings have been added use a wooden or silicon spoon to give the pot a stir. This will stop them from sticking (picture 10-11).
- Bring the pot to a boil then reduce the heat to medium and simmer for 15-20 minutes.
- Once the dumpling have cooked use a slotted spoon to remove them (picture 12).
Notes and tips
- Make sure your finger nails aren’t excessively long has this can inhibit making satisfactory dumpling.
- Use a fine texture type of cornmeal as this takes a lot quicker to cook then coarse cornmeal.
- Make sure the water is pre-boiled and continued to boil throughout the preparation
- If the dough is too sticky you can save it by adding a small amount of flour at a time. Alternatively, dry dough can be leveled out with a splash of water
- DO NOT use cornstarch this is NOT the same as cornmeal. Cornstarch is a thicken and doesn’t serve the same purpose as cornmeal.
- This recipe makes roughly 6-8 dumplings, depending on the size
Frequently asked questions
I am Caribbean, but not gluten free. Can I still make this recipe?
Yes, follow the steps accordingly but use regular flour instead
I am making the dumpling for soup, when do I make them?
Add them when you are boiling/simmering your soup. Keep in mind that the dumpling alone will take around 15 minutes to cook.
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Can I use just cornmeal without flour to make this recipe?
No. I have tried making flourless dumpling with cornmeal alone and it doesn’t work because you need something else to bind it together which is why a ratio of 50/50 works best.
Why do you only recommend fine cornmeal and not coarse?
Coarse cornmeal takes longer to cook so you will run the risk of having a dumpling with hard grain/grainy texture if undercooked. I grew up using fine cornmeal so recommend to follow suit by using the same texture.
Where can I buy cornmeal?
Online, try to purchase organic is possible. Caribbean supermarkets sell it but they aren’t usually organic.
Caribbean recipes you may want to serve dumpling with
- Caribbean curried butter beans
- Jamaican ox tail stew
- Escovitch fish
- Jamaican steamed cabbage
- Jamaican steamed fish
- Gungo peas soup
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