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Turn Cornmeal
Jamaican Tun Cornmeal Recipe

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Jamaican Turn Cornmeal (Tun Cornmeal)Jamaican Turn Cornmeal (Tun Cornmeal) With Mixed Vegetables

by Venesha Johnson | Associate Writer

A traditional Jamaican, Turn Cornmeal or "Tun Cornmeal" is made with refined yellow cornmeal cooked in coconut milk with herbs and spices. It has existed for a very long time not only in Jamaica but also in other Caribbean nations and other regions of the world.

It is referred to as "Cou Cou" in Barbados. It is actually the national dish of Barbados and is served with fly fish. Okra and cornmeal are used to make it. The word "polenta" is also used in Italy.

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What’s very interesting though is turn cornmeal is looked down on in Jamaica as a “poor people” food. There are people who would go as far as saying that turn cornmeal is only to be prepared for their dogs. While in other countries, Polenta is served in fine dining restaurants.

It can be eaten alone or with other foods including steamed or fried fish, curry chicken, butter beans, and saltfish. Turn cornmeal can eat with pretty much anything you choose.

You can make Turn Cornmeal with only your standard herbs and spices by heating it with coconut milk. To give the dish an extra taste, there are some additions you can make.

These are the usual choices:

  • Mixed vegetables 
  • Okra
  • Cooked Pigeon Beans 
  • Saltfish

Tips for cooking Turn cornmeal

  • Combine the water and the golden cornmeal. Don't combine the hot liquid mixture with dry cornmeal.

  • When the heat is high, do not stir the cornmeal into the hot liquid mixture. When the heat is on low, only add it.

  • For the following 30 minutes on low heat, stir it while it cooks every 10 minutes to keep lumps from developing.

Jamaican Turn Cornmeal (Tun Cornmeal) Recipe


  • 2 tablespoons of vegetable or coconut oil
  • 1 Roma tomato and 1 small onion- finely chopped
  • 2 finely cut green onion (scallions) stalks
  • 1 thyme sprig
  • chopped finely half a green bell pepper
  • 2 minced garlic cloves
  • Allspice, 1/8 teaspoon
  • Yellow cornmeal, 1 1/2 cups
  • 2 cups of coconut milk and 1 teaspoon of salt per 1 1/2 cups of water.
  • two teaspoons of butter
  • 1/4 teaspoon Red Pepper Flakes or 1 Scotch Bonnet Pepper


  1. Place the water and cornmeal in a small bowl.

  2. Make sure the water is properly integrated into the cornmeal by whisking the mixture.

  3. The coconut oil must be heated in a medium pot.

  4.  On medium heat, add the bell pepper, onion, tomato, and garlic and sauté for about 2 minutes.

  5. Stir in coconut milk, scotch bonnet pepper or red pepper flakes, salt, butter, allspice, and thyme. Put a lid on top and let it boil.

  6. After turning down the heat, stir in the cornmeal mixture.

  7. The cornmeal mixture shouldn't be added to the pot while the heat is high. This will cause it to quickly get hard and form several lumps.

  8. As you slowly add the cornmeal mixture in, stir vigorously.

  9. Cook for 30 minutes on low heat with the lid on the pot.

  10. Check and stir at least once every ten minutes.

 Take the saucepan off the stove and let it cool. Serve warm and take pleasure in.

Turn your Turn Cornmeal into a snack by making using deep frying.

  • Spread out your tun cornmeal in a flat baking tray.
  • Place in the freezer and allow to harden.
  • Remove the tray of tun cornmeal and grab your favourite shaped cookie cutters and cut out as many as possible.
  • Dust them in some flour, then egg wash, then flour again. 
  • Fry until golden brown.

Is polenta a corn meal?

Yes, it is. The dish known as polenta, which was invented in Northern Italy, is made from coarsely ground yellow cornmeal. It is incredibly adaptable and has a huge variety of preparation options.

Are grits and polenta the same thing?

Yes, ground corn is used to make both grits and polenta, but the primary distinction here is the kind of maize. Grits are typically prepared from white maize, but polenta is typically made from yellow corn, as you can obviously tell from the colour (or hominy).

Despite the negative connotations attached to polenta in Jamaica, it is a tasty, hearty and very filling dish that is definitely worth a try.

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References & Sources For Jamaican Turn Cornmeal

  1. Turn Cornmeal: An Authentic Jamaican Dish - A YouNique Journey,
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