Foodie Tuesday: Blue Drawers

Welcome to another #FoodieTuesday linkup!

 

Would you eat something called blue drawers?

Don’t answer just yet. Read on then let me know later.

Cornmeal cooked in banana leaf to make blue drawers
Cornmeal pudding wrapped in banana leaf

Jamaicans have a knack for christening people and things with more descriptive names. Some members of my family did it. If someone reminded them  of something else or if the person had a prominent feature, they’d call that person, behind their backs, of course, by that name.

That’s what happened with Blue Drawers. But no one seems to know how this little pudding ended up with this colorful moniker since it’s not blue – though during the cooking/steaming process the banana leaf turns the water a slightly blue color – and it’s not drawers either.

Blue Drawers, also called Tie-a-Leaf or Dukunnu came to Jamaica from West Africa.  Dukunnu, in the Akan language, means boiled maize bread.

Blue drawers on a plate
Ready to eat – blue drawers from my family reunion

Blue drawers is typically made from cornmeal, but it can also be made using green bananas, cassava, sweet potato or yam, which is grated and mixed with sugar and spices. It is then cut in squares, wrapped in banana (or plantain) leaf. tied in small packages with a string (or banana bark, hence the name tie-a-leaf) and boiled or steamed. It can be eaten at anytime.

I hadn’t thought of, or seen, Blue Drawers in several years and was surprised to see it this past weekend at my family reunion. It wasn’t on the official menu but there it was, stacked three or four deep in an aluminum container, next to the usual breakfast items. I didn’t try the blue drawers right away. When I returned later, the container was empty.

How to Make Blue Drawers

Ingredients

1 pound cornmeal
2 ounces white flour
1/2 pound sugar
1/2 cup grated coconut
1 tsp. cinnamon powder
1 cup raisins
1 tsp. salt
1 tbsp. molasses
2 tsp. vanilla
2 -1/2 cups coconut milk

Banana leaf or aluminum foil
Banana bark or string
Water

Method:

Cut the center vein of the banana leaf. Soften or ‘quail’ the leaf by holding it over an open flame or boiling water until the green leaf turns dark. Set aside.

Put water in a large pot to boil.

Blend dry ingredients and grated coconut thoroughly. Mix wet ingredients, then add to dry ingredients. Stir briskly.

Place enough of the mixture into the center of banana leaf to make a 4-6” square. As if you’re wrapping a gift, fold each side of the leaf to the center; making sure it overlaps to keep the parcel waterproof. Use twine to wrap the bundle lengthwise and crosswise. Repeat until the batter is used up.

Place each package gently in simmering water that should be just enough to cover all the parcels. Cook for about 40 minutes, or until filling feels firm to the touch.

Plate and serve blue drawers.

Serves 8.

Here’s a video demonstrating how to make blue drawers. (As you can imagine, as young people, we would’ve only been able to use name with our friends. In front of parents and adults, it’d be either dukunnu or tie-a-leaf.)

So would you eat blue drawers?

 

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23 comments on “Foodie Tuesday: Blue Drawers

  1. Oh, that makes my mouth water, Marcia. We’ve had a similar sounding/looking treat of a slightly sweetened rice in banana leaves in Hawaii. I love eating anything cooked in a banana leaf! Yummy post.

  2. I’d love to taste blue drawers, though I don’t understand how they get their colour. I suppose they are nice and sweeeeeet in the North African kind of way.

  3. Now that I’ve read your post, the answer to your question is an emphatic \”Yes\”! Sounds really tasty and I think they look like beautiful little gifts artistically wrapped.

  4. I’ve had a somewhat similar thing in Belize. It was more of a savory item while this one seems sweeter, but they were wrapped in banana leaves and steamed the same way. These looks delicious too though!

  5. I’m sure you could try it with foil, Mette, instead of banana leaves. With raisins and sugar, it can be a bit sweet so you could cut back on one or both, to your liking.

  6. I’ve seen it, Jackie, but haven’t tried it. Co-workers of mine who’re Chinese brought it in one day. I was fascinated — I didn’t realize they cooked with banana leaves as well. I’d love to try it.

  7. Marcia, this is amazing! I’ve seen variations of this made by locals at whatever destination travel show I may be watching and I never, ever considered thinking I could make one. Then, I read your recipe and instructions and said hey….hang on, I can do that! Thank you so much for this post! And thank you back for your post to my blog as well. I’m going to Subscribe to your blog as soon as I get home and get a decent computer 🙂

  8. ‘Blue drawers’ sound absolutely delicious, Marcia. I thought it might be like a tamale and then read the recipe and found out that it was sweet. Is this something local eateries or food stalls would sell? I’ll bet it’s not available at resorts…

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