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Dukunu – A Traditional Jamaican Dessert With an Easy Recipe

by Deon Clarke | Associate Writer



Tasty Jamaican Dessert - Dukuno
Photo: Tasty Jamaican Dessert - Dukunu (Blue Draws)

Who is in the mood for some “dukunu”, “duckoonu”, “duckunoo”, “dukunno”? Not too familiar with that name? What about “blue draws” or “tie-leaf” or “tie-a-leaf”? There are so many different spellings and different names, but all talking about the same delicious traditional Jamaican dessert made from generally green bananas and sweet potatoes. But how did we come to know about this treat anyway? Let’s take a look at what it is and its origins before I go on to tell you how you can make it for yourself and believe me, it’s pretty easy, just a little patience is needed.

What Exactly is Dukunu?


Dukunu is simply a sweet boiled pudding made from grated green bananas, grated sweet potatoes, cornmeal, grated coconut, coconut milk, along with some other easily available ingredients right there in your kitchen, and wrapped or tied in banana tree leaves. Don’t worry, I will be sharing the recipe with you. You will also find some variations to the recipe such as flour, cassava, coco, and even pumpkin, which are used as the base at times or as a combination as preferred.

Where Did Dukunu or Blue Draws Come from?


This tasty treat had its origins in Ghana, West Africa. So how did it get to Jamaica? You guessed it - it was brought here by the African slaves. Since then, it has formed a strong part of our heritage. No one seems to know how it got the name “blue draws” however, this leaves a lot to the imagination, lol. But can you believe, it still exists in Ghana today and the Asante people of Ghana still call it “Dukunu”?

Dukunu is not only popular in Jamaica but many other Caribbean countries such as:
Belize (where it is called dukunu), Trinidad (called payme or paime), Barbados (called conkies), and also in Antigua, Barbuda, and many other islands.

How Do You Make Dukunu?


Now we’re getting to the fun part. Yes, how do we make this tasty treat? I’m sure by now, you’ve figured that you probably have all the ingredients required in your kitchen. So I’ll share one recipe with you. Now remember there can be variations, so use what you have. After all, “variety” is the spice of life.

The Recipe


Ingredients:
  • 2.5 cups (grated) sweet potatoes
  • 3 cups (grated) green bananas
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 cup (grated) coconut
  • 1 1/2 cups brown sugar
  • 2 cups coconut milk
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp mixed spice
  • 1 tsp salt

Other Items:
  • Green banana leaves, parchment paper or aluminum foil paper (for wrapping the servings)
  • Baker’s twine, or string or banana bark strips (for tying the parcels)

The Method:
  1. Prepare the banana leaf by cutting along the middle section of the leaf and discard the vein. Cut the leaf into equal rectangular pieces. You will then wilt or quail the banana leaves. To do this, you can wave them over an open flame, or boil a large pot of water and just dip the leaves in the boiling water until they are wilted. Be careful to use a pair of tongs to remove them from the pot, and set them aside.

  2. Get a large bowl, and add the flour, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt, and mix until fully combined. Set this aside.

  3. Add coconut milk, green banana, sweet potato, and vanilla to a high-speed blender, or grate green banana and sweet potato using a box grater. Process until your mixture resembles a coarse batter.

  4. Stir mixture into the dry ingredients and mix until combined, then fold in the grated coconut.

  5. Place about 2 tablespoons of the batter in the centre of the banana leaf. Bring the edges of the banana leaf over the batter. Fold the edges under to make a tight package, then tie the dukunu or blue draws with strips of banana bark or baker’s twine. Repeat this process until all the batter is finished.

  6. Bring a large pot of water to boil over medium-high heat. Add the dukunu or blue draws parcels, return to a boil, then reduce and simmer for one hour.

When this is all done, your end result - a heavenly tasting dessert! Certainly worth the effort.

I’m sure once you’ve made this, you will never stop making it. But, don’t just take my word for it, why not try it for yourself and see!

I also recommend you read Discover The 11 Jamaican Dessert Recipes That Everyone Is Craving!

Regards,
DC

References:
  • Jamaican Duckunoo (Blue Draws or Tie-A-Leaf), My-Island-Jamaica, https://www.my-island-jamaica.com/jamaican-duckunoo-blue-draws-or-tiealeaf.html
  • Jamaican Blue Draws Recipe – aka Dukunu, Jamaicans, https://jamaicans.com/bluedraw/
  • Jamaican Blue Draws Recipe – aka Dukunu, https://goodnewsjamaica.com/index.php/2020/09/11/blue-draws/
  • Jamaican Blue Draws, Healthier Steps, https://healthiersteps.com/recipe/jamaican-blue-draws/

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A patriotic Jamaican who adore its culture, Wellesley has been using this medium to share what he calls 'the uniqueness of Jamaica with the world' since April 2007.  

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