Cooking With Chef Sian: Home is Where the Heart is

In the Caribbean, you will find countless varieties of cooked and fried dumplings to satisfy every appetite. A recent conversation sent me to dig up pictures of some stuffed dumplings I made a couple of years ago and of course nostalgia soon interfered. I shared the pictures on Facebook and the next thing I knew I had received a flurry of recipe request, including an inbox message from my baby brother in Pennsylvania. He wanted a recipe for dumplings stuffed with Jerk Chicken.

So, rather than add yet another item to my lengthy to-do list, I decided to use the proverbial stone and kill about 12 birds. The following Festival & Jerk Chicken recipe combines two, authentic Caribbean favorites and gives you a two for one treat.

Sian's Cooking














Festivals are a sweeter, cornmeal version of the very popular Jamaican fried dumpling. Festivals are usually served with spicy meats like jerk chicken or pork. Jerk is the Jamaican process of marinating meats with a variety of spices that include Scotch Bonnet pepper and allspice then grilling or smoking the meat with pimento wood.

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  • l b boneless skinless chicken breast, cut into 6 – 8 pieces
  • 1 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp black pepper
  • 1 TB jerk marinade
  • ½ sm. onion, chopped
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • Scotch Bonnet pepper, optional
  • 1 ½ C self-rising flour
  • 2 TB sugar
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • ¼ C. Cornmeal
  • ¼ C. milk + ¼ C. water, combined
  • 1 ½ C. vegetable oil
  • *substitute self-rising flour with 1½ C. all-purpose flour + 1½ tsp baking powder.


Jerk Chicken Instructions

Wash the chicken in cold water. Drain the water from the chicken. Combine all ingredients in a deep bowl. Mix well to coat the chicken. Heat a skillet over medium heat and add chicken to pan. Let the meat sear for 2 minutes before you add ½ cup of water. Reduce heat to med- low. Cover the pan and let the chicken cook for 10 minutes. After the chicken cooks remove from the pan and use 2 forks to shred the chicken.


Combine dry ingredients in a large bowl. Slowly add liquid while mixing with a spoon. When all the liquid is absorbed put aside spoon and knead dough. Dough should be soft but dry and not stick to your hands. If dough is sticky, add flour 1tablespoon at a time until dough is soft and dry. If flour is not fully absorbed add water 1 teaspoon at a time and mix. Break dough into 12 pieces and roll into long wide strips on a cutting board. Add 1 TB of chicken to center of each piece of dough. Carefully fold over dough and seal. Be careful to not make holes in the dough. Repeat until festivals are formed. Heat oil in a skillet, for about 2 minutes, over medium heat. 

Carefully drop pieces in hot oil and let dumplings fry until they are golden on all sides. About 5 minutes. Use slotted spoon or fork to remove dumplings from oil. Rest on paper towel for a few minutes before serving.

Cuisine: Jamaican |


be careful to add little or no gravy to the filling. The dumplings may leak and gravy and hot oil are not a friendly combination.


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These stuffed dumpling give you the flavors of a complete meal in one, or two bites. When you make them be careful to add little or no gravy to the filling. The dumplings may leak and gravy and hot oil are not a friendly combination. If you are a gravy lover serve it on the side as a dipping sauce.


 Sian Rose is an award- winning Chef who has appeared on the Food Network. Her first cookbook Nyammings: 88 Authentic Caribbean Recipes, can be found on in print and Kindle. Visit Sian’s website at   to stay up to date with all her culinary adventures.



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