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Having a varied upbringing both here and in Jamaica has helped to mould my culinary skills in more ways than I can imagine. My earliest memory of Caribbean Porridge lies with my grandma, in the Jamaican village of Content. Most days, before sun rise, emerging from our humble house, I would come across this beautiful dark lady hunched over a coal stove, about to serve breakfast. This porridge is exceptionally nutritious, possessing all the ingredients needed to sustain you during those back-breaking hours of hard labour on the farm. Being on the farm, you could also add any fruit topping as a substitute to sugar. Adding a European twist, allows me to share my experiences with my British kin-folks.
Put the water in the pan in which you want to cook the porridge. Add the spices and bay leaf. Put a lid on and simmer for 5 minutes. Now you can fish out the allspice berries and cloves with a slotted spoon if you don’t want them in the final porridge. Stir in the coconut milk and salt.
Add the porridge oats to the fragrant spiced liquid. Bring to the boil, then turn down the heat and simmer for 5 minutes, stirring often. I don’t like porridge too stiff, so I make sure it can still move around the pan, adding milk or more water if necessary.
Put the porridge into 4 bowls. Top it with whatever delights you like. Milk is good, cream is great. Chopped tropical dried fruits are colourful, or try banana. I like some pecans for crunch and extra nourishment. Then you can add some sugar, if needs be, remembering your ready-to-eat fruits may be sweetened already. Eat up and get going!