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Cooking with Chef Sian: Pot Water, Is it a Jamaican Ting?

Is pot water a Jamaican ting?

That is the question I found myself pondering last week, as a sipped on a cup of hot pot water.
I can think of nothing comparable to a cup of steaming hot pot water generously flavored with bits of ground provisions, banana, and dumplings. For as long as I can remember I have watched my grandmother and just about every ‘older’ Jamaican woman, and some men too, I know sip on the water left from boiling a pot of ground provisions (food), before dinner.

Pot water
Just imagine the burst of flavor in this cup. this cup of pot of water is generously flavored with bits of saltfish, ackee, banana, yam and dumplings tinged with a burst of hot pepper

A simple country ritual from long ago?

Borne possible form the habit of drinking a hot beverage to ease gas/ hunger pains before meals. Pot water always seemed to be a dinnertime alternative to hot tea or coffee. Whatever the reason a steaming hot cup of pot water was a given when we boiled food for dinner. By virtue of being a ‘foreigner’ or some such foolishness. Whenever I go home I now find myself doing like other tourists and get waited on. So, I haven’t taken much notice to see if this custom is still practiced.


Flavor, Nutrition & Variety

My grandmother liked to add a carrot or 2 to her pot water. She believed carrots were a visual aid. There is some truth to that since:
” …Because carrots are rich in vitamin A and lutein they provides many benefits for healthy vision, but eating carrots every day will not restore vision to 20/20. Still, eating Bugs Bunny’s food of choice, are always a good choice for a nutrient-packed snack…” KEEP READING. There is also the proven fact that some of the nutrients cooked from the food, remains in the water. So you see, pot water not only tastes good. It’s good for you too.

Some folks add a whole uncut pepper for a little flavor, some pierce it with a fork for a little kick. I don’t add the carrot very often but I do appreciate a little spice. The day I took these pot water photos I happened to be cooking ackee & saltfish so the saltiness from the fish added extra flavor to a water already enhanced with bits of ackee, banana, yam and cornmeal dumplings. A few slices of hot peppers made it even tastier. Kinda like a poor man’s soup or ‘long wata’ another Jamaicanism used to describe soups that are less hearty.
And that brings me back to my original question.

is pot water a Jamaican ting or no?

pot water alongside ackee & saltfish with food
All the flavor on your right, in thatt 1 little cup on your left.

1 thought on “Cooking with Chef Sian: Pot Water, Is it a Jamaican Ting?”

  1. Oh, wow! Never would I’ve ever imagined that hot pot water would become a staple of Jamaican cuisine. I have a friend who seems interested in trying some Caribbean food next weekend. I’ll bring her to a nice restaurant so she can enjoy good dishes.

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