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Indian Food in Jamaica

Passage to India – Ocho Rios

First of all if you’ve never been to Jamaica you might not know that its as multi-cultural as they come!  On my first trip way back in 2003 I was very surprised that the first shop owner I saw was Chinese.  Of course since then I’ve learned a LOT more about Jamaica and that its very much populated by Asians and East Indians.

Lunch at Passage to India, Ocho Rios

Lunch at Passage to India, Ocho Rios

There’s a shopping plaza in Ocho Rios called Soni’s Plaza and there’s a wicked Indian restaurant there called Passage to India.  I went there this past Easter Monday to meet a long lost friend for lunch.  She works on a cruise ship and its her favorite place to eat when she ports in Ocho Rios.  I’m SOOOO glad she suggested it or I would have never eaten some of the best food I’ve ever tasted!

Passage to India is located on the second level in Soni’s Plaza and is a really nice atmosphere.  The service was great and the prices were reasonable for a tourist.  I don’t normally eat at nice restaurants in Jamaica, I go more for local food but this place is definitely an exception.

Indian Food in Jamaica

Indian Food in Jamaica

My dish above was some deep fried veggies which happened to be REALLY spicy!  I loved it even though I sweat the whole time I was eating it.  The picture far above is what everyone ordered and we pretty much all sampled each other’s dishes.  There’s some butter chicken in there, and God knows what the rest of it is.  I forget what everyone had but I kid you not, it was ALL soooo good!  I highly recommend trying this place!

The following video is just something that made me laugh LOL.  I have no clue why there was a random marching band in the streets or that Jamaica even had marching bands!!  We heard it coming for miles so I had to go lean over the second floor railing to watch since we couldn’t hear each other talking over the noise anyways LOL.  Interesting entertainment for an Easter Monday lunch.

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  1. I’ve never had Indian food…but that looks sooooo good! Who’d have thought you can get great Indian food in Jamaica, lol.

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  2. Jeeeez you’re fast at posting LOL!!! I just hit “submit” and already a comment.

    I never had a clue about this place, I don’t shop around for restaurants. But I’m so glad my friend took me!

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  3. That looks delicious. What’s that white stuff? Is it rice?

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  4. Ah! The food looks delicious.

    Among the pic at the top: the red dish is “butter chicken”, it is also referred to as the “Kadai butter chicken… “kadai” indicating the “wok” or “vessel” or the “cooking pot” it is served in. The green one is “Paalak Paneer”…”Paalak meaning “spinach” and “paneer” is “Indian cheese” or “Cottage cheese”.

    The 3rd dish seems like the “Dum Aloo”… it is a “potato” (aloo) curry made of young and small white potatoes simmered in Spices (Garam Masala) and Coconut Milk.

    “Garam Masala” is an aromatic Indian spice blend. This easy-to-make spice blend is the heart of most Indian dishes. The word has come from the “Urdu” language. Garam means “hot” and masala means “paste”, it is a basic blend of ground spices to be used alone or with other seasonings. “Garam masala” is not ‘hot’ in the sense that chillies are, but is fairly pungent. “Garam” refers to the term ‘hot’ as applied to temperature.

    Usually “garam masala” differs according to the region. There are a variety of garam masalas… that you will find in India. Some common ingredients are black and white peppercorns, cloves, bay leaves, long pepper (also known as pippali), black cumin (known as shahi jeera), cumin seeds, cinnamon, black, brown and green cardamum, nutmeg, mace, and star anise, coriander seeds. Varying combinations of these and other spices are used in regional variants of garam masala. There are numerous ways in which “garam masala” is prepared in different regions of India. There is no way of determining which of them are more authentic than the others!!!

    Some recipes blend spices with herbs. Yet others grind the spices with water, vinegar or other liquids, such as coconut milk, to make a paste. In some recipes nuts, onion or garlic may be added. Usually a masala is cooked before use to release its flavours and aromas.

    The spices to be included in a “garam masala” will vary according to region, and personal choice. The basis of a North-West Indian garam masala usually comprises cloves, green and/or black/brown cardamom, cinnamon, cassia, and mace and/or nutmeg. Black pepper can be added if the mix is to be used immediately, but if kept, the fragrance will diminish, and may change in character. Also typical of the region is the use of black cumin (not white cumin) and caraway. The components of the mix are ground together, but not roasted. It is common in Indian, Pakistani and Bangladeshi cuisines.

    The rice above… seems to be of 2 kinds… one is a white or plain rice and the other perhaps a ghee rice (the off-white coloured one). From the look of the grains… seems to be “Basmati” rice. This variety of rice is fragrant and hence the name “basmati”.

    The Basmati rice is an aromatic long-grain rice from India… [Hindi b?smat? means ‘fragrant’, from b?s , ‘fragrance’, ‘perfume’, from Sanskrit v?sa.]

    For the life of me… I am unable to recollect the name of the deep fried veggies in the 2nd pic. Put it down to the advancing years!!! :)

    The food has been served in the typical North-Indian or Punjabi style… in a “wok” or “kadai” with a burner at the bottom… this keeps the food heated throughout… and therefore tasty!!!

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  5. Here is an easy way to “make” Garam Masala… Here is a basic one, that is!!! Garam Masala is best made fresh just before you begin cooking, but if you haven?t got the patience, make a batch ahead and store for several months in an air-tight container in a cool, dark place.

    Prep Time: 0 hours, 10 minutes
    Cook Time: 0 hours, 4 minutes


    4 tbsps coriander seeds
    1 tbsp cumin seeds
    1 tbsp black peppercorns
    1 tsps black cumin seeds (shahjeera)
    1 tsps dry ginger
    tsp black cardamom (3-4 large pods approx)
    tsp cloves
    tsp cinnamon (2 X 1? pieces)
    tsp crushed bay leaves


    1. Heat a heavy skillet on a medium flame and gently roast all ingredients (leave cardamom in its pods till later) except the dry ginger, till they turn a few shades darker. Stir occasionally. Do not be tempted to speed up the process by turning up the heat as the spices will burn on the outside and remain raw on the inside.
    2. When the spices are roasted turn of the flame and allow them to cool.
    3. Once cooled, remove the cardamom seeds from their skins and mix them back with all the other roasted spices.
    4. Grind them all together, to a fine powder in a clean, dry coffee grinder.
    5. Store in an air-tight container in a cool, dark place.

    Once you get a feel for the taste… it gives your cooking an interesting edge. You can alter it to suit your needs as well… !!!

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  6. Since there are many folks with South Indian roots in Jamaica… do try out the masala dosa, paper masala dosa, idli, appam, neer dosa and the filter coffee. And of course the fish (and crab masala)… if you like fish, that is…

    Also the mughlai dishes… if you can.

    In case the place is an eatery serving North Indian dishes… do try out the ‘chat’. If it serves East Indian stuff… the sweets and the fish as well.

    They are simply D.E.L.I.C.I.O.U.S…!!!

    Bon Appetit!!! :)

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  7. And… Oh… Before I forget…

    “A Passage to India” (1924) is actually a novel penned by E. M. Forster… it is set against the backdrop of the British Raj and the Indian Independence Movement in the 1920s.

    It was selected as one of the 100 great works of English literature by the ‘Modern Library’ and won the 1924 “James Tait Black Memorial Prize” for fiction. The Time Magazine included the novel in its “TIME 100 Best English-language Novels from 1923 to 2005″ as well.

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  8. @ STUART – LMAO!!!!! You’re a funny one aren’t you :D Yea it was special Indian rice LOL.

    @ Roshmi – First of all you amaze me with your knowledge and second, you’re making my mouth water!!!! I’m definitely gonna try that recipe, and then close my eyes while I eat it and pretend I’m back in Jamaica. :-)

    Thanks for posting!!!

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  9. I wonder how many jamaican locals eat Indian food. I have to assume jamaican eat there since they have a resturant in ja? Did you see mostly tourists or jamaicans eating there?

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  10. I think I mostly saw tourists there. The owners were Indian but it was kinda funny seeing Jamaicans work there. I wonder if they like the food if they eat it on their breaks or something?

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  11. @Melissa, Jamaicans eat a lot of curry (goat and chicken mostly), but I don’t know if Indians would consider our curry dishes to be Indian food.

    @Jamaica, hmm, I think that in this case, I will pretend I was trying to be funny (or did you mean funny as in peculiar? I can’t find one of thos smiley faces, so I guess :) will have to do).

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  12. LOL no I really thought you were crackin a joke about the white stuff being rice. :D

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  13. Thanks a bunch! Am flattered to say the least… :-)

    But do try out Indian food whenever you can… India comprises of 28 states and 7 Union territories… and each one of them have several signature cuisines…

    … And if a South Indian cook is preparing North Indian stuff, it will become a different kind of cuisine altogether… !!! But… delicious, nonetheless :-)

    And vice versa. Ditto for an East Indian cook preparing North/South/West/North-West/North East….. dishes and vice versa…

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  14. Do try out the recipe above… and be teleported back to Jamaica… :-)

    Really, seems to be such a lovely country… very much like a picture postcard.

    A note on “Garam Masala”… this is GOOD for health. Some of the ingredients are anti-carcinogenic, anti-oxidant, anti-tumorigenic, anti-inflammatory. Some help in keeping the blood pressure under control, others have anti-cholesterol properties while some others have cleansing qualities… and so the list goes on… :-)

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  15. Mmmmmm…yessss. My mom is Indian, and we eat a LOT of Indian food when I go home to Jamaica. There is an Indian restaurant in the Port Henderson Plaza in Portmore that I have been dying to try. Next time I go home, I’ll take a stroll and check it out. Meanwhile, I’ll continue licking my computer monitor at those pictures…

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  16. You have got to be my favorite commenter!! I love it when I see you’ve been on here LOL!

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  17. You can count me in for a Digg. Thanks for posting this on your blog!

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  18. If I like my computer monitor at work, my co-workers are really going to look at me strange! lol.
    I’ll stay with drooling – lol.
    This is another ting to add to my Ochie to do list – thanks again JC!

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  19. I am an indian from jamaica,in jamaica there are indians called indo-jamaicans or jamaican indians,we are indian with jamaican culture,just like you get a jamaican chinese,jamaicas moto is out of many,one the 1800s indians brought curry into jamaica that is why curry goat exists today,jamaican is a nationallity not a race so you will find all cultures there

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  20. Thanks for posting Michael. I learned what you said early in my visits to Jamaica when the first shop owner I ever saw was Asian. I was surprised back then but now I’ve come to find it’s normal all over the island. And THANK YOU to the Indians for bringing curry to the island!! LOVE it!

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  21. I will be in Jamaica the whole month of August, this coming August . I can not wait to try this dish out.. Thx! :)

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  22. Hey Fancy, enjoy your trip and definitely try this food!

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  23. Hi guys,
    Do try Mystic India ….Indian Restaurant located in Whitter village,Ironshore ,Montego bay…. It’s the best Indian Restaurant in Montego bay.

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  24. Thanks for that tip Jamrock! I wish I would have tried it when I was stationed in Ironshore for 2 months last year. I will go check it out.

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  25. As a Jamaican I can tell you many of these dishes are practiced by us… Especially currying food. Jamaians love to explore different cultures of food. Especially Indian, Chinese and our own of course. Our meals are sometimes combined with different foods from different cultures..

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  26. I totally agree Chani. When I lived in Ochi my neighbor was Indian from Guyana and his cooking was a fabulous mix of Jamaican and Indian food. SO great.

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  27. don’t speak of Jamaica like we are least advanced in modern things. a band like seriously.

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  28. Niqua, I was speaking of Jamaica from the point of view of a person who never saw a marching band there up until that day. Marching bands have nothing to do with advancement or modern things. It’s a band, not a space ship lol.

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