worldly wednesday: antigua and barbuda introducing a ducana recipe
The independent nation of Antigua and Barbuda is formed by Antigua, Barbuda and Redonda, located in the eastern Caribbean Sea. Antigua and Barbuda is a part of the Leeward Islands in the West Indies. And, as we learned when we “traveled” to Anguilla, these islands were first populated by Amerindian tribes. Christopher Columbus “discovered” Antigua and Barbuda in 1493, naming the island after the Church of Santa Maria de la Antigua in Seville
There were settlements by the Spanish and French and eventually the English, who formed a colony in 1667. Sugar plantations were the main source of income. With the English colonial plantation system came slavery.
Before slavery was abolished (in 1834) the sugar industry in British colonies was beginning to wane. These islands did not fare well and struggled to prosper. It wasn’t until tourism became a significant part of the economy that Antiguans prospered. With a strong labor movement that began in the 1940’s Antiguans sought independence. It wasn’t until 1981 that Antigua and Barbuda became fully independent.
Most Antiguans are of African lineage, descendants of slaves brought to the island centuries ago to labor in the sugarcane fields. But, the colonial British left their mark on the islands. The culture of Antigua and Barbuda is an example of a Creole culture which came from the three primary peoples who resided there: Amerindian, West African and British (along with other Europeans). But, most cultural habits are primarily British, such as Cricket being the national sport.
While the food of Antigua and Barbuda is mostly imported, the Creole influence is ever present. Some of the most common foods are: Fungie, pepper pot, ducana and salt cod. We chose the ducana for two reasons: it is a delicious representative of Antigua and Barbuda’s cuisine and it is a fantastic food for this time of year.
Ducana is versatile as it is the perfect food for a breakfast meal or a dessert. But, if you are truly into the island experience, prepare the ducana and serve it with prepared salt fish. We omitted the salt fish because the cook is highly sensitive to the smell and would much rather eat the ducana on its own. However, if you’d like to try that combination you might want to stop by Cutlass and Cane for a salt fish and ducana recipe that seems worth the effort. If you aren’t in the mood for salt cod try our recipe for sweet ducana.
2 sweet potatoes, peeled and grated*
½ cup shredded coconut (unsweet)
½ cup sugar
2 cups all purpose flour
1 tablespoon coconut milk
½ teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon nutmeg
1. Fill a large pot ½ ways with water and bring to a boil.
2. In a large mixing bowl add all the ingredients. Mix with your hands.
3. Form the mixture into dumplings about 1×1 inch. Wrap each ducana in aluminum foil ensuring that the foil is sealed well.
4. Place the ducana packets in the pot and boil for 15 minutes.
5. Remove from the water. Let cool for 5-10 minutes. Unwrap the dumplings and either sift cinnamon sugar over the ducana or roll the ducana in a bowl with cinnamon sugar, coating the entire dimpling. If the ducana are still very warm the cinnamon sugar forms a little bit of a syrup on the dumpling.
*Being east coast ladies, one of us from New Jersey, we decided to use Jersey white sweet potatoes for this recipe therefore the dumplings were not orange in color.