Jamaican Festival – the bread that is fun to eat

The third Jamaican dish I tried as part of my experimentation this last weekend with Jamaican Cuisine is called “Festival.” A “Festival” is a slightly sweet, fried bread. It reminds me of a larger, sweeter version of a “hush puppy” probably because of the cornmeal in the recipe and because it is fried. They also resemble cornmeal fritters.

Jamaican Festival Bread
Two had already disappeared before I could take this picture.


Why is it called a ‘Festival?’ From what I understand it is because in Jamaica it is said eating one is like having a Festival in your mouth. Festivals are served with a variety of Jamaican dishes and provide a marked contrast and complement to the spiciness of Jerk seasoning commonly used in Jamaican meat dishes.

I think you will enjoy making and eating Festivals as much as I and my family have.

Here is the recipe:


1 1/2 c Flour, all purpose
3 T Cornmeal (I highly recommend Lamb’s Stone Ground)
1/2 t Salt, kosher
3 T Sugar
1 t Baking powder (I used ARGO*)

3/4 c Water
1 t Vanilla

Mix all dry ingredients in a bowl. Stir water and vanilla together and add to dry ingredients. Blend together until combined. The dough should be slightly sticky; add more water (up to 1/4 cup) if necessary. Cover in plastic wrap and let stand for one hour on the counter.

Divide the dough into 8 pieces, roll into small sausage shapes, then coat in a half and half mixture of flour and corn meal. Fry in vegetable oil (300 to 375 degrees) until golden brown (internal temp s/b 190 – 200 degrees).

Festival Bread - frying

* They expanded significantly when cooked. I attribute this to the ARGO Baking Powder I used which I have found to be superior to other commercially available brands. For more information, see my previous post on Baking Powders and the results of the first Baking Powder Experiment conducted in the Lukewarm Legumes Test Kitchen.