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Pageant (Jamaican Fried Cornmeal Dumplings)

Why It Works

  • The addition of melted butter retains the dough moist inside and delivers a frivolously crispy exterior.
  • Frying the pageant in small batches will assist preserve the oil on the appropriate temperature and velocity up the general cooking course of. If the temperature of the oil is simply too low, you’ll find yourself with a greasy pageant. 

Pageant is a uniquely Jamaican fried dumpling, utterly completely different in texture and taste to a Johnny cake, one other Jamaican fried dumpling. Pageant (at all times within the singular) are outlined by their lengthy oval form and crisp golden crust, whereas Johnny truffles are spherical and don’t have the sweetness and crumbly texture of a pageant. The addition of cornmeal and sugar to the pageant dough is what makes them distinctive and provides a layer of density, texture, and sweetness.

Pageant are merely scrumptious; the crunchy, fried exterior is balanced by the moist, barely candy dough, making them very laborious to keep away from and an awesome companion to spicy, savory dishes. They are often eaten as a snack, however are extra generally served as a facet or accompaniment to quite a lot of Jamaican avenue meals.

Critical Eats / Karina Matalon


Pageant are just like hush puppies, the favored facet dish within the American South. And, as within the American South, cornmeal was an essential a part of the early Jamaican food plan and exhibits up usually in conventional country-style Jamaican cooking. Cornmeal’s recognition originates from the 18th century when enslaved employees had been provisioned with a weekly allotment of cornmeal and salted fish from plantation house owners. Naturally, this resulted in quite a lot of fashionable cornmeal dishes that vary all the way in which from savory to candy. Another examples of how cornmeal has been integrated into Jamaican cooking embrace: duckunoo, a candy cornmeal and coconut pastry that’s wrapped in a banana leaf and steamed; cornmeal porridge, a basic hearty, creamy, and candy breakfast dish; cornmeal pone, a candy and dense steamed pudding constructed from a mixture of cornmeal, vanilla, coconut, nutmeg, and brown sugar; and tun cornmeal, a savory polenta-type dish made with salt fish, coconut, okra, thyme, greens, and spices. 


Among the many many ways in which one can get pleasure from pageant, none is healthier than a meal of fried fish and pageant at Hellshire Seashore, in Kingston. Hellshire is a fishing village on the outskirts of Kingston, well-known for its superior tackle rustic beachside fare. Weekends are at all times hottest, with crowds lining as much as have their weekly repair, however on any given day of the week one can find Jamaicans keen to take the 40-minute trek out to Hellshire to devour a plate of fried fish or fried lobster with pageant.

Critical Eats / Karina Matalon



Pageant can be served sometimes with jerk pork and jerk hen. Lots of the jerk facilities across the island will provide quite a lot of sides, like roast breadfruit, roast yam, roast candy potato, or fried inexperienced plantains, to go along with the jerk, and pageant is at all times a favourite alternative right here. The crisp, candy, barely dense starch of the pageant is a superb stability to mood the warmth, spice, and saltiness of jerked meat or hen. Pageant additionally seems as a daily facet on the breakfast desk accompanying Jamaica’s nationwide dish, ackee and saltfish, together with steamed callaloo, Johnny truffles, and fried plantain.

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