Jamaican Beef Patties (Beef or Veggie)
A Jamaican Patty
These flaky Jamaican meat patties contain curried ground beef with great flavor. This includes onion, garlic, and Scotch bonnet pepper, plus a slew of aromatic herbs and spices. Eating them is almost as good as an actual trip to Jamaica.
What is it?
The Patty is a pastry that contains various fillings and spices baked inside a flaky shell, often tinted golden yellow with an egg yolk mixture or turmeric. It is made like a turnover, but is more savory and filled with meat.
As its name suggests, it is commonly found in Jamaica and is also eaten in other areas of the Caribbean, such as the Caribbean coast of Nicaragua and Costa Rica. It is traditionally filled with seasoned ground beef, but fillings can include chicken, pork, lamb, vegetables, shrimp, lobster, fish, soy, ackee, mixed greens, or cheese.
In Jamaica, the Patty is often eaten as a full meal, especially when paired with coco bread. It can also be available as bite-sized portions called cocktail patties. Among the Jamaican diaspora in the UK, the pastry is more like that of a suet crust. Margarine or butter then makes it a flaky pastry. Flavors come from curry powder containing turmeric, which provides the flavor.
The beef patty is a product of colonialism and migration developed after the introduction of the Cornish pasty in the Caribbean, mixed with cumin and curry seasonings of Indian indentured servants in Jamaica and cayenne pepper from African slaves. “The firecracker taste of the Scotch bonnet, a hot pepper indigenous to Jamaica, sealed the flavor.”
Jamaicans brought recipes for the patties northward in the 1960s and 1970s. Thereafter went to the United States as hospital orderlies, home health aides, and nurses. The patties were then found in restaurants in areas of the New York Metropolitan Area with high West Indian populations. The patties are equally famous in UK cities with large West Indian communities, such as Birmingham Manchester, and London.
Why the Patty?
Their popularity is spreading in the UK, and they are becoming available in many mainstream outlets. They are also popular in Toronto, Montreal, Washington, DC, and numerous other areas throughout the American northeast and Canadian Great Lakes regions; in many of those areas, they are available in grocery stores, delis, corner stores, and convenience stores. For the past few years, the Jamaican meat patty has been pre-made and frozen. This makes it possible for mass selling in Britain, Canada, and the United States.
In many areas in Canada and the US, Jamaican beef patties are at pizza and convenience food restaurants and supermarkets.