Jamaican Fried Dough | Festival

Slightly sweet and very moreish fried dumplings, called festival, from Jamaica, these are traditionally served with jerk meats.–Virginia Burke

LC More on Moreish

For those of us who aren’t Brits–or literate in utterances that commonly escape Brits’ mouths–the term “moreish” means, quite literally, something that’s sooooooooooo darn good, it makes you want more. ‘nuf said.

Jamaican Fried Dough | Festival Recipe

  • Quick Glance
  • 20 M
  • 40 M
  • Makes 12

Ingredients

  • 1 cup cornmeal
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Enough cold water to make a soft dough
  • Oil for frying

Directions

  • 1. To make the festival recipe, mix the cornmeal, flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt in a bowl. Add just enough cold water to make a stiff dough.
  • 2. Flour your hands well and knead the dough on a lightly floured surface for just a minute or so. Divide the dough into 12 portions. Roll each portion into a small cigar or sausage shape that’s somewhat tapered at the ends.
  • 3. Pour enough oil into a skillet to reach about 1 inch deep. Heat the oil over medium-high heat until shimmering but not smoking. Carefully slide a few of the dumplings into the oil and fry, turning as necessary, until golden brown on each side, adjusting the heat if necessary, about 8 minutes total. Transfer to paper towels to drain. Repeat with the remaining fritters. Eat ‘em hot.
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Testers Choice

Testers Choice
Testers Choice
Carol Anne Grady

Dec 19, 2011

I really enjoyed these fritters, and they were a snap to make. I needed a half cup of water to bring the dough together, and they came out crisp on the outside but dense and soft on the inside. They’re quite plain, making them a great accompaniment to strongly flavored jerk chicken — keep some sauce aside for dipping. Don’t try to use a knife and fork on them — better to use your fingers!


Comments
Comments
  1. D B says:

    While these are *often* served with “jerk meats”, they are *traditionally* served with fish.

    • Renee Schettler Rossi, LC Editor-in-Chief says:

      Many thanks, D B. Appreciate the clarification. We’ve been served festival with all manner of meat and fish at tiny dives in Jamaica, and been told they go with both, but interesting to learn this…

    • Beth Price, LC Director of Recipe Testing says:

      Hi DB,

      Yes, the sweet festival are a perfect counterpoint to a spicy fish dish. They serve them at the hot bar at my local grocery store, along with fried plantains and callaloo. So good!

      Beth

  2. Danielle says:

    Can I use whole wheat flour instead of white ?

    • Beth Price, LC Director of Recipe Testing says:

      Hi Danielle, it should be fine to use whole wheat flour. I’ve seen the festival made with both white and whole wheat.

      • Rob says:

        Hey Beth I can make some festival for you :) Is baking soda the same as baking powder?

        • Beth Price says:

          Hey Rob, I would love some festival! My favorite jerk shop in Cayman just closed and I desperately need a festival fix. To answer your question, baking powder and baking soda are different.

  3. Jo S says:

    Hiya, I recently went to a Caribbean friends BBQ and she served these yummy treats with some jerk chicken: I was craving them so much at home that I used this recipe to make some as soon as I got back home but mine came out quite hard on the outside and not soft on the outside like my friends. Any tips? Am I using the wrong flour or leaving them in too long? Any ideas?

    • Beth Price, LC Director of Recipe Testing says:

      Hi Jo, it sounds like the festivals may have cooked a little too long, or the oil may be a tad too hot. Next time you might want to check your oil temperature with a deep fat thermometer- it should hover around 350. Let me know if you are still having problems- I have a very willing tester who would love it if I made some festival, and some jerk chicken, and Jamaican patties…..

  4. Cory says:

    The ratio of flour to cornmeal is a bit off. You should only be using half the amount of cornmeal at most, otherwise the dough will be far too dense.

    • Beth Price, LC Director of Recipe Testing says:

      Hi Cory, the amounts do vary from recipe to recipe. It can be a 1:1 ratio, as in this recipe, or I’ve seen as little as 1 ½ cups flour to 3 tablespoons of cornmeal. This recipe is so easy to put together that you can vary amounts until you find the perfect proportions for your festival.

    • Dianne says:

      Cory, the festival recipe in Jamaica is mainly about the cornmeal, that is what separates it from our fried dumplings so the proportion is perfect.

  5. Mark says:

    Enjoyed this recipe…made ackee and salt fish and added these to the breakfast for my wife and daughter today.

    • Beth Price, LC Director of Recipe Testing says:

      Oooh, Mark, can I come eat with you? I love ackee and salt fish! It’s one of my favorites.

  6. Jo says:

    What is a good dipping sauce to compliment the festival? I’ve looked and can’t find a solid recipe, can you help?

  7. bri says:

    What is the spicy sweet red dipping sauce for jerk chicken recipe?

    • Beth Price says:

      Hi Bri, are you thinking of a mango salsa? I sometimes see that served alongside jerk chicken in a restaurant. More often than not though, it is usually just a piece of chicken and a bag of festival from a roadside jerk shack.

  8. Clark b. villareal says:

    Hi! Can i use acorn flour instead of corn meal???

    • Beth Price says:

      Hi Clark, I can honestly say that I’ve had no experience working with acorn flour. My sources tell me that it can be used in place of all purpose flour so now I’m curious. Please report back, we would love to hear of your results.

  9. tammy says:

    Do you use self rising flour or all purpose??

    • David Leite David Leite says:

      tammy, thanks for pointing this out to me. It’s all-purpose flour. (A tip: When you see flour plus a leavener, such as baking powder or baking soda, it’s all-purpose flour.) All recipes on the site use all-purpose, unless otherwise noted. But I will change this for future readers.

  10. Mary Beth says:

    Sorry, but this recipe has a lot of problems. First of all this does not make 12 festivals unless your festivals are tiny (they are typically about 5-6 inches long and 2-3 inches wide). These were way more dense and doughy and not sweet enough. Also, there is absolutely no way that it only takes half a cup of water to bring the dough together. I used 1.5 cups. That’s a big oversight to not include that measurement in your recipe (at least an estimate!). I’m also pretty sure that these are better deep fried, but it would be nice to hear from a Jamaican cook to know for sure. Didn’t like this recipe at all, sorry.

    • David Leite David Leite says:

      Hi Mary Beth, I’m so sorry you didn’t like the recipe. A few things: festivals vary in size; I’ve seem some 4 long by 1 1/2 inches wide, some larger, but there’s no hard and fast rule). And festivals are supposed to be dense. As far as sweetness, I agree with you, and you can add more sugar. As far as water, but the recipe doesn’t specify an amount because your dry ingredients will determine that. (I think the mistake here in the cookbook is to say make a “soft dough.”) And these are fried! If these are made into 12 festivals, there’s plenty of room in the oil for them to be deep-fried.

      That being said, my job is supply you with a great recipe, and I failed. So take a look at this recipe and video I found for traditional festivals. There are similarities between this recipe and ours. And perhaps you might like it more. Let me know what you think if you make it. Best.

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