Antiguan ducana

Antiguan ducana

  • serves 4-5
  • Easy

Evolving from Ghanaian ‘dokono’, this celebratory Caribbean dish calls for cornmeal, pumpkin or sweet potato, raisins and fresh spices, sweetened with sugar and coconut, then wrapped and steamed inside banana leaves

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Try Keshia Sakarah’s Antiguan ducana recipe for an alternative Christmas dinner, or try Original Flava’s jerk turkey.

Recipe author Keshia Sakarah, chef and owner of Caribe’, an authentic Caribbean street food restaurant based at Pop Brixton in London, is also a food writer and cultural commentator. “I celebrate food and how it is an important part of our culture and identity, starting with my Caribbean heritage,” she says.

“Caribbean culture is beautifully diverse and complex, rooted in West African tradition with influences from European colonial rule and Asian customs. Antiguan ducana, as well as many dishes from the islands, shares this narrative… St Kitts and Nevis, and St Vincent and the Grenadines also call this dish ducana, while it’s referred to as ‘conkie’ in Barbados, ‘kankie’ in Guyana, ‘tie a leaf’ or ‘blue draws’ in Jamaica and ‘payme’ in St Lucia and Trinidad. This recipe is special because the islands have adopted it as a celebratory dish. Many cook it during Christmas time, while Barbados makes it specifically to celebrate its independence. It’s a wonderful example of ingenious African cooking techniques, and how they’ve kept their essence but adapted to utilise available ingredients amid tragic circumstances. You will need a steamer for this recipe – you can substitute banana leaves for foil lined with a piece of baking paper. To make these vegan, substitute evaporated milk for plant milk and butter for vegetable fat.”

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Ingredients

  • fresh banana leaves for wrapping
  • plain flour 100g
  • cornmeal 150g
  • dark brown muscovado sugar 60g
  • ground cinnamon 2 tsp
  • nutmeg grated to make 1 tsp
  • pumpkin or sweet potato 120g, finely grated
  • fresh or desiccated coconut 100g, finely grated
  • evaporated milk 120ml
  • vanilla extract 1 tsp
  • butter 2 tbsp, softened
  • raisins or sultanas 50g
  • vegetable oil for the banana leaves

Method

  • Step 1

    Prepare the banana leaves by cutting them into 30cm x 20cm pieces, then rinse and set aside to dry.

  • Step 2

    Mix the flour, cornmeal, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and ½ tsp of salt in a bowl, then add the grated pumpkin and coconut, and combine well. Gradually add the milk and vanilla extract, mixing while you pour to avoid any lumps, until a wet mixture forms. Fold in the butter, followed by the raisins. Chill until you are ready to fill the banana leaves.

  • Step 3

    Prepare the steamer and let the water start to boil on a low-medium heat.

  • Step 4

    To fill the banana leaves, put a prepared leaf on a flat surface, pour a little oil on your hands, then rub lightly onto the leaf. Add a few spoonfuls of the mixture into the centre of the leaf. Shape the dough into a log shape with your hands, keeping it in the centre of the leaf. To seal, fold the longest horizontal sides into the centre, covering the dough entirely, then fold both ends into the centre. Tie across the centre of the parcel in a cross shape using kitchen string to ensure there are no open sides.

  • Step 5

    Repeat until all the mixture is used up, then put the parcels inside the steamer on top of each other for 30-40 minutes.

  • Step 6

    The ducana are ready when the dough is opaque and slightly firm. Enjoy by themselves or with stewed saltfish and antruba (chopped okra with aubergine).

Nutritional Information

  • Kcals 435
  • Fat 17.2g
  • Saturates 11.2g
  • Carbs 59.1g
  • Sugars 22.9g
  • Fibre 5g
  • Protein 8.1g
  • Salt 0.7g
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