Jamaican Festival Dumplings Recipe

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Why are they called Festival dumplings? I wish I knew. Perhaps someone can do a little digging and tell me the truth behind the name. All I know is that Festival is not something I grew up with. It wasn’t until I returned to Jamaica for a visit that I found it was all the rage! Festival is street food at it’s best and traditionally eaten on the beach alongside Escovitch Fish or the like. If you’ve never had it, it’s basically a fried cornbread fritter or dumpling. Unlike traditional Jamaican Fried Dumplings, Festival is sweet, crisp on the outside and dense. Most earlier recipes were very heavy with equal amounts of flour and cornmeal. But nowadays you’ll often find ones with just a hint of cornmeal. In my book that makes them too similar to regular dumplings. Instead, my recipe falls somewhere in the middle. It’s not too sweet and not too heavy … I’ll think you’ll find to be just right!

1 1/2 cups all-purpose Flour
1/2 cup Cornmeal
3 Tbsp Sugar
1/2 tsp Salt
2 tsp Baking Powder
1 Egg, beaten
1/2 tsp Vanilla
Approx 1/2 cup cold Water
1 cup Cooking Oil

If you prefer a lighter a Festival dumpling: use 3 Tbsp of cornmeal instead and adjust the amount of water needed to bind the dough

1. Mix dry ingredients together

2. Add beaten egg and vanilla and mix gently until combined

3. A  bit at a time, add water, kneading until dough holds together.

4. Knead dough until smooth and divide into 6 or more equal pieces; shape in long dumplings.

5. Heat cooking oil on High in deep frying pan and place the Festival Dumplings in the pan one at a time.

6. Reduce heat to Medium and turn Festival dumplings every few minutes until they are brown on all sides and are cooked through; they will expand as they cook.

Enjoy with Escovitch Fish, Ackee & Saltfish or whatever you like!

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Comments (11)
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  • nikki

    Hello fay my makes wonderful festivals too, but she doesn’t add egg just little butter can you tell what’s the difference in terms of texture and taste? I made your fried dumplin recipe and she (mom) loved it and said the dumplings were so flaky.

  • Verna

    Thanks Fay, I’m trying this tommorow

  • Darlene

    Thank you, Fay. I can’t wait to try this delicious recipe and impress all my Jamaican friends. ;-)..

  • Oba Lumumba

    I just recieved your email moma and I can’t wait to try this recipe. I’ll let you know how it turn out when I do.

    God Bless you

  • Ria

    Hi Faye,
    I once saw an interview of the Rastafarian who said he came up with the name “Festival” ( for the current popular fried cornmeal dough). As far as I can recall, he was selling fried fish on the beach of Hellshire (-St Catherine/Kingston border) He also made this versions of fried dumplings to accompany the fried fish instead of the usual bammy . He exclaimed that they tasted so good , they were as nice as Frestival ( Independence celebration , most likely) . After it became popular with beach goers Jamaica Flour Mills bought the “rights ‘ to use the name . He expressed disappointment with the deal though now tht’s festival mix is packaged and exported .

    • Cook Like A Jamaican

      Hi Ria,
      Thank you so much for sharing this story. I’ve also heard that it’s like a festival in your mouth, but I like your story better. Blessings, Fay

  • Mabel

    I had a craving for festivals the other night so I tried this recipe. They were so easy to make and so delicious! I only wish I knew how to make these years ago! Thanks again for another great recipe!!

  • Jessica

    Hi Fay
    I tried your festival recipe for breakfast today and it tasted great
    my husband and son love them also. Thank you for great recipes
    the coconut cake is on my list to do next.

  • Pete

    ‘Festival’ is a brand name of a ready made dough , which you just add water too. I bought some when I was with My Jamaican friend, at the Shop in Granby Street, Liverpool, UK. They where easy to make and tasty, best when the dough mixture is left in the fridge overnight, before frying.

  • Penelope

    Tried your recipe tonight. It does remind me of the Festivals we just had at a place called Scotchies in MoBay a couple of weeks ago during a port stop on our cruise. Our driver was kind enough to give me his recipe and he didn\’t mention the use of vanilla but this is quite good and reminds me of the ones we ate there…love the flavor! Thank you for the easy recipe.

  • Terry

    I tried your festival recipe yesterday and it it was really good!!! The egg made it really light and fluffy. Went further and mixed up another batch using half and half whole wheat flour and regular white flour and the festivals were still good. Thanks for this recipe.