Tropical Sun

Food Glossary

                                                                        A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z


- is considered the national fruit of Jamaica. The fruit originated from West Africa and was introduced to the West Indies during the 18th century. This unique fruit is, to the surprise of many, eaten as a vegetable: in vol-au-vents, with rice, in quiches and most often in one of Jamaica's signature dishes - Ackee and Saltfish.
To a real Jamaican there is no substitute for the taste of Ackee, the national fruit of Jamaica - it is the true taste of home. The Ackee is found on a medium size tree that bears magnificent red and yellow pear shaped fruits. When ripe the pod naturally bursts open into three sections to expose three shiny black seeds, each attached to a yellow edible aril. It is this aril that is eaten after the seed has been removed.

All Purpose Seasoning - is probably the most popular seasoning in a Caribbean kitchen. It usually consists of salt, chilli, onion, coriander and black pepper. As the name implies it can be used to season any of your dishes whether it is meat, fish or vegetables. As with all of Tropical Sun's range, our seasonings do not contain any MSG.

Allspice - is an aromatic spice that looks like a large, smooth peppercorn (about the size of a pea), allspice is the dried berry of the West Indian allspice tree. It's also called Jamaican pepper or pimento and is one of the most important ingredients of Caribbean cuisine. The name Allspice arose because its taste is said to resemble a combination of cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg and black pepper.

Arrowroot - is a starch extract of the root of a tropical plant native to the Americas called maranta. Arrowroot is used for thickening sauces, juices and syrups; when heated the starch turns to jelly and so thickens the liquid. Its great advantage over cornflour is that it's completely tasteless (whereas cornflour can need cooking to get rid of its 'raw' taste) and gives a clear finish when used to thicken certain soups, fruit syrups or sauces.


- is a traditional Jamaican deep-fried cassava flatbread. It is made from grated cassava root flour and salt. The mixture is lightly fried (usually in coconut oil), soaked in coconut milk or water and fried again. Visitors to Jamaica have described it as "fried cassava cakes dripping in butter".

Black Bread - is a very dark rye bread made with various percentages of flour from rye grain. It can be light or dark in colour, depending on the type of flour used and the addition of colouring agents. Typically denser than bread made from wheat flour, it is higher in fibre than many common types of bread and is often darker in colour and stronger in flavour.

Black Bun - is a spicy mixture of nuts with dried and candied fruits in a rich pastry crust. The fruit mixture is usually prepared several weeks in advance to allow the mixture to ripen and develop its flavour.

Black Butter - is cooked over a low heat until it becomes dark brown. It is then flavoured with vinegar or lemon juice, capers and parsley and served with eggs, fish and vegetables.

Blue Draws - is a pudding made from cornmeal, bananas, coconut, herbs and spices. The mixture is wrapped in banana leaves and baked usually on wood or coal fires.

Black Pudding/Boudin - are sausages made from coagulated pigs' blood, thyme and scotch bonnet peppers.

Breadfruit - is a vegetable that can be eaten roasted (on a BBQ), baked, fried or boiled. The taste is similar to potato or freshly baked bread.

Bulla - is a flat round cake made from sugar and flour.
Bun and Cheese - is a sandwich of two slices of bun with a slice of processed cheese. This very popular snack is typically Jamaican although there are British versions also. The addition of guava jelly or chutney to cheese gives a sweet and tart taste.

Busta - is a hard to chew candy made from grated coconut and brown sugar.


- is the name given to the leaves of a variety of plants such as taro (dasheen), tannia (malanga) and amaranth (prickly callaloo). It is often used to make soup. The soup includes numerous other ingredients, such as crab or pig's tail, okra and hot peppers. Similarly to spinach, the leaves can also be cooked and served as a vegetable or mixed with rice.

Casareep - is the juice of the cassava root which is flavoured with aromatics and boiled to remove the toxins. It is used as a relish in soups and other dishes. Casareep is also used to preserve meat in tropical countries.

Cilantro - is the Caribbean name for coriander leaves.

Coco bread - is eaten in Jamaica and other areas of the Caribbean. Despite the name, the bread does not contain coconut. It is starchy and slightly sweet. It is often split in half and stuffed with a Jamaican patty to form a sandwich.

Coconut - refers to the seed of the coconut palm. Coconut palms are grown throughout the tropics for decoration as well as for their many culinary and non-culinary uses; virtually every part of the coconut palm has some use. The "nut" of the coconut is edible and is located on the inner surface of the shell. The juice of the coconut can be sweet or salty or both sweet and salty. The oil from the coconut possesses healing properties and is extensively used in traditional medicine.

Coconut Cream - is also known as creamed coconut and is sold in hard blocks. It can be diluted with hot water before using or added straight to simmering liquid in the pan. It will give a distinctive taste and smoothness to curries, sauces and rice without adding further water.

Coconut Milk - isn't the liquid from inside the nut, but is actually the extract of freshly grated coconut flesh. The flesh is first soaked in hot water, then allowed to cool, after which the liquid is strained off. Premium coconut milk have a higher concentration of coconut fat, and hence produce a stronger and more desirable coconut flavour. (See also Rundown).

Cornmeal - is a grainy flour which has been ground from the dried kernels of yellow or white corn. Dried corn kernels come in one of three textures - fines, medium or coarse. Yellow cornmeal has slightly more vitamin A than white.

Curry - is a generic term for a variety of spiced dishes. Some distinctive spices used in many, though certainly not all, curry dishes include turmeric, cumin, coriander, fenugreek, and red pepper. The word "curry" is derived from the Tamil word kari it literally means 'side-dish', which can be eaten along with a main dish like rice or bread.


- is a starchy tuber that is usually served boiled or used as a thickener in soups. The dasheen is known as coco or tannia in some Islands. (See also Callaloo). 

Dumplings - There are various names for Jamaican dumplings: Johnny Cakes or Festivals or just dumplings. Jamaican dumplings are made with flour and fried in oil. You can also add other ingredients to the flour to spice the dumplings up a little. It is believed these dumplings originally were called "journey cakes" since they were easy to carry on journeys: the name "journey cakes" then became Johnny Cakes.

Egusi Seeds
- are the seeds of a highly nutritious type of water melon found widely in Africa and often used in soups from the region. It is a flat ovoid seed with a tapering pointed end, milky to white in colour.

Elubo - is the Yoruba word for yam flour which is made by cutting yam into small bits, drying them and then grinding them into smooth brown flour. The flour is used in preparing amala or lafun, a mash meal which is eaten much like the way mash potato is eaten in the Western World.

Escallion - also known as scallion, green onion or spring onion, is an edible plant that is milder than most onions. It may be cooked or used raw, in a salad. A versatile ingredient, diced scallions are often used in soup, noodle and seafood dishes.


- can best be described as a slightly sweet, crispy cornmeal fritter that is frequently served in Jamaica with any Jamaican dish. Festivals go very well with Jerk dishes and spicy fish recipes where the sweet festivals provide a deliciously complementary taste. (See also Dumplings).

Farina - is made from cereal grains and is mild-tasting. In the West the word usually refers to semolina flour or Cream of Wheat made from soft wheat. The word farina comes from either the Italian word for "flour", the old Romanian word for flour, "farina", or in Portuguese, "farinha". Wheat farina is a carbohydrate-rich food, often cooked in boiling water and served warm for breakfast, or cooked with milk and made into semolina pudding. It is used as an ingredient in many dishes and in foods such as breakfast cereals and pasta. It is also one of the single best sources of dietary iron available, especially for vegetarian diets, offering as much as 50% of the recommended daily value in a single 120-calorie serving.

Fufu - is a traditional dish which is made by boiling starchy foods such as cassava, yam, plantain or rice. The fufu is then pounded into a glutinous mass, usually in a giant, wooden mortar and pestle. This dish is a favourite in West African groundnut stews.

Gari - is made from fresh cassava tubers (root), which are cleaned after harvesting grated, , left to ferment after the water and starch has been squeezed out and then fried with or without palm oil. Gari serves as a major staple food in West Africa;it constitutes a daily meal to some 150 million people worldwide. It can be eaten as a snack in cold water on a very hot day, or cooked in hot water to make a dough-like meal called eba or gari foto which can be eaten with any African vegetable, soup, fish or meat. It is a popular Ghanaian, Sierra Leonian and Nigerian food.

Gizzada - is a Jamaican coconut confectionary made from grated coconut and sugar adorned in a flour base made to look like a shallow cup. They are usually brown in colour but can also be white with pink on top.

Green Bananas - look very much like ripe yellow bananas but are very different in several respects. Most notably their flesh is firm and tastes of starchy rather than soft and sweet like yellow bananas. Green bananas are eaten boiled and usually with some form of meat or relish. The bananas can be boiled with the skin or peeled and then boiled.

Guava - is a fruit which is usually round or oval shaped. The outer skin may be rough, and taste bitter, or soft and sweet. The skin can vary in thickness and is usually green before maturity, but becomes yellow, maroon, or remains green when ripe. The fragrance is similar to lemon rind but less sharp. Guava pulp may be sweet or sour, and the colour off-white ("white" guavas) to deep pink ("red" guavas), with the seeds in the central pulp of variable number and hardness.
The fruit is used to make compotes, pastes, jams and jellies. It complements soft cheeses and is a scrumptious spread on cassava or other crisp breads and crackers. Our Tropical Sun Guava Jelly is the first Caribbean Guava Jelly to be awarded three gold stars at the UK Great Taste Awards.

Jerk Chicken & Corn

Irish Moss
- is a sea weed found along the coast of Jamaica. The weed is dried and used in cosmetics, medicines and as a thickening agent for puddings, ice creams and some soups. Irish moss is also used to make a very popular drink which is said to have aphrodisiac qualities.

Ital ("eye-tal") Food - is the food of the Rastafarians, a vegetarian cuisine that does not make use of salt. Look for the red, green and gold Rasta colors on dining establishments as a clue to locating Ital restaurants.

Jaggery - has a sweet, wine like taste and gives a distinctive taste to any food it to which it is added. Dark, course, unrefined sugar, jaggery is made from either the sap of palm trees or from cane sugar juice. As a form of honey butter, it is typically spread on breads and confectionaries. Solid jaggery is often crushed and then sprinkled over cereal or mixed in while cooking savoury dishes

Jerk - is a style of cooking native to Jamaica in which meats are dry-rubbed with a fiery spice mixture. The term jerk is originally referred to the process of rubbing spices and acidic hot peppers onto strips of meat in order to tenderize and preserve them. There are many jerk seasoning combinations in the islands, most of which call for scallions, thyme, allspice, hot peppers, onions and garlic. Some jerk recipes use citrus juice or vinegar to add tartness while others use molasses to add sweetness. While jerk also complements fish dishes, it is traditionally used to prepare chicken or pork dishes.

Jollof Rice - is also called 'Benachin' meaning one pot in the Wolof language, is a popular dish all over West Africa. It is thought to have originated in Ghana but has since spread to the whole of West Africa, especially Nigeria and Gambia, amongst members of the Wolof ethnic group. There are many variations but the most common basic ingredients are: rice, tomatoes, tomato paste, onion, salt and red pepper. Beyond that, nearly any kind of meat, vegetable or spice can be added.

Jonkanoo - is thick and extremely hot pepper sauce which is made with a blend of red peppers and spices used to flavour savoury dishes.

Johnny Cakes - see Fried Dumplings.

June Plum - is an oval shaped fruit that has a green skin which turns yellow when ripe. The fruit contains a large, spiky seed.

Kebab/Kabob - are small chunks of meat or fish that are marinated, threaded on a skewer and grilled over coals. Pieces of vegetables are often added to the skewers for a more balanced meal.

Kola Nuts - look similar to coffee berries and may be used as a remedy for upset stomach or an antidote for some poisons.


- is an herb which has long, thin, gray-green leaves. It is considered one of the most important flavourings in Caribbean cooking.

Lemon Balm - is a lemon scented herb with mint-like leaves which is generally used to brew an aromatic tea and to flavour salads, meats and poultry.

Lemon Verbena - is a lemon flavoured herb used to make tea but is also used to flavour salads and some sweet dishes.

Limes - are one of the most important ingredients in sauces and marinades and are used to perk up any savoury or sweet dish. Unlike the popular green limes with which we are most familiar, ripe Caribbean limes have light yellow skins.

Mackerel Rundown - is a popular Caribbean dish made by cooking mackerel in coconut milk which has been seasoned with herbs and spices. It is generally served with boiled green bananas, yam and dumplings.

Mamey Apple - The Mamey (Mammea Americana) is also known as Mammee Apple. This tropical fruit is related to the mangosteen and is the size of a large orange. The mamey has a thick, russet bitter skin and sweet, juicy reddish or yellow flesh, with a taste similar to an apricot. The raw fruit is often served in fruit salads or with wine, sugar or cream, especially in Jamaica. In the Bahamas, the flesh is first soaked in salted water in order to remove its bitterness.

Mannish Water - is also known as Goat head soup and would mostly be served at house parties or bought from street side vendors. It is a light soup made from goats head and seasoned with generous portions of garlic, escallion and scotch bonnet peppers. Dumpling, yam, cho-cho and green bananas are also boiled into the soup.

Mango - is a fruit which comes in many varieties size, taste and colours, from green to bright red. When ripe the flesh is yellow and sweet and can be eaten raw or cooked and used as part of many marinades, sauces, ice and sorbets. Green mangoes are used to make some of the best chutneys and are also used in vegetable stews.

Mush - is cornmeal porridge made with milk and water and served with melted butter, milk or maple syrup. Mush can also be cooled, cut into squares, sautéed until golden brown and served hot, sometimes with gravy as a side dish.

Ogbono - is the seed of a wild bush mango plant called dika or the African-mango used in preparing a protein rich delicacy called ogbono soup. The ogbono plant grows freely in the tropical rain forest of Africa and its fruit is eaten all across this region from Senegal to Nigeria and Angola to Uganda. Ogbono, also called ogbolo or etima seed, when ground and combined with vegetables and spices and cooked with fish and or meat, is used to make the popular ogbono soup in Nigeria, Ghana, Gabon, Equatorial Guinea and Sierra Leone.

Okra - are also known as Lady Fingers. This vegetable is a long green pod with a slightly furry skin, full of soft creamy seeds, and is often used to thicken soups and stews. During cooking, okra produces a glutinous juice which thickens any dish tow which it is added. Make sure you choose stems that snap cleanly and don't bend. It can be eaten raw in salads or cooked with curries, soups (Callaloo) or vegetable stews. Okra can also be lightly pan fried and served as a side dish (with a sprinkling of spices).


Palm Nut Soup
- is also called Banga soup and is made by extracting the liquid out of a palm fruit. It is widely eaten all over West Africa to the Cameroon and is traditionally made by boiling about 100-200 palm fruits in a pot of water for about 20 minutes until the pulp softens.

Patty - is commonly found in Jamaica. Patties look like turnovers but are savoury and are tinted golden yellow with an egg yolk mixture or turmeric. Patties may contain various fillings such as seasoned ground beef, chicken, mixed vegetables, ackee and cheese.

Papaya - or pawpaw, is a large melon with sweet yellow-orange flesh. It can weight from 8oz to 20lbs and range in shape from round to pear-like to long and thin and is a very popular ingredients in drinks, salads or desserts.

Peas - are the Tropics primary source of protein - even more so than meat. Gungo/pigeon peas, cow peas and black-eye peas are popular. Some beans such as Kidney, Lima, Butter and Broad (also called Fava) beans, are somewhat confusingly also called peas. Smaller peas are generally used in Rice and Peas while larger peas are used in savoury stews and side dishes.

Pepperpot Soup - is a peppery soup as the name implies. The main ingredient is spinach-like Callaloo which gives the soup its green colour The soup also includes pig tails, salt pork or salt beef, coconut milk, okra and plenty of spices.

Pick-a-Pepper Sauce - is a Jamaican mango and tamarind based spicy pepper sauce.

Peri peri - is an African word for chilli and is also a hot chilli sauce used in Portuguese, African and Brazilian cookery. The Portuguese introduced chillies to their African colonies after discovering them in Brazil, so peri peri plays a major part in the fiery food of Mozambique where chicken, fish, seafood and vegetables are all cooked with these chillies.

Plantains - are a staple across Africa and the Caribbean. Plantains look like larger versions of bananas. They must be cooked to be edible and therefore the green or ripe plantains are sliced, fried, boiled or baked before eaten.

Pounded Yam - is a smooth dough of mashed yam often eaten with vegetable soup or stew. It is sometimes called pounded Iyan the Yoruba word for pounded yam). It is much like mashed potatoes, but smoother, heavier and tastier. It is a very popular African food, especially in Nigeria, Ghana, the Ivory Coast, Benin and other parts of West Africa. Pounded yam is purchased as a powder before being mixed with water to make a dough.

Red Pea Soup - is another of Jamaica's famous soups. It is made from kidney beans, salted pig tails, beef and vegetables.

Rice and Peas - is nicknamed the Coat of Arms in Jamaica. Rice (white or brown) and either peas or beans are cooked together in coconut milk and spices. The most common beans used in this dish are red kidney beans and/or gungo peas (also known as pigeon peas). The beans normally give the rice a slight brown tinge, which makes many think that brown rice has been used.

Roti - is a round, thin, flat bread and is usually served wrapped around portions of curried chicken or goat, shrimp, pork or vegetables. Roti is especially popular in Trinidad and Tobago.


- is cod (usually), mackerel, herring or haddock fish that has been cured, preserved by salting and dried. Traditionally it was dried outdoors by the wind and sun. The tradition dates back to the 1700s when travellers from the island of Newfoundland brought dried and salted cod to Jamaica for the Jamaicans in order to trade for Rum. Ackee and Saltfish is, internationally known as Jamaica's national dish.

Scotch Bonnet Peppers - are very small chilli peppers but BEWARE they are considered to be one of the hottest chillis in the world! Part of the Habanero family of peppers, they are mainly found in the Caribbean, Guyana and the Maldives. The distinct taste of Scotch bonnet peppers helps give Jamaican Jerk dishes and other Caribbean dishes give their unique flavour. They can be light green, yellow or red. After preparing these chillies, it's important to avoid contact with the eyes or any sensitive skin - even hand-washing may not be enough to remove all the capsaicin, the volatile oil in the peppers that gives them their hot taste. If you don't always have fresh ones at hand, keep a jar of our Tropical Sun Whole Hot Peppers (in brine) in your pantry. It will ensure you have these peppers around any time a recipe requires it.

Sorrel - is a small plant belonging to the hibiscus family. It flowers with a fleshy deep red sepal which is used to make drinks, jams, jellies, chutney and sauces. The sepals are picked and soaked in water and blended with other flavourings such as ginger, allspice (pimento) and orange zest.

Soursop - is a large, elongated, oval shaped fruit which can measure up to 12" long and can weigh several pounds. The thin, inedible green skin is covered in knobbly spines that easily break off when it is ripe. This fruit is native to the West Indies and the large mass of cream coloured, fragrant, juicy flesh is processed to make drinks, ice-creams and sorbets.

Stamp and Go - is the name given to codfish patties which are fried in a heavy onion, annatto and chilli flavoured batter. These are very popular in Jamaica.

Star Apple - is a succulent round fruit about the size of an orange. It is native to Jamaica and the Greater Antilles. The skin of the fruit can either be a shiny purple or a matte green.

Suya - are West African shish kebabs (roasted skewered meat), but with a particularly African twist: a peanut-spice rub. Suya are usually made with beef, but chicken or veal can be substituted. Suya can be made with just meat, ground peanuts and cayenne pepper, but more elaborate spice mixtures are also used.

Sweetsop/Sugar Apple - is a fruit. The flesh of this fruit is actually a collection of black seeds surrounded by sweet white pulp. Though high in calories, sweetsop or sugar apple is a good source of iron.


- is a fruit that is popularly used in chutneys, curries and Worcestershire sauce. The fruit is a brown pod that bears in bunches on a very large tree.

Ugli Fruit - is from the tangerine and grapefruit family and ranges in size from that of an orange to a giant grapefruit. The extremely thick, yellow-green skin fits loosely over its large, juicy, yellow-orange pulp sections.

- is served boiled, mashed or baked in the Caribbean. The Caribbean yam is very different from the Southern sweet yam. It is nutty in flavour and its colour is similar to the potato.

Yuca - is a long, slim tuber with bark-like skin and very starchy flesh that becomes almost translucent when cooked. It can be eaten boiled, baked or fried and can be ground into meal to make bread. Yuca is also used to make casareep and tapioca.