Margarita's International Recipes



cou cou

Cou-cou, along with fried flying fish is the national dish of Barbados. Perhaps a sibling to North African cous-cous, it can be found throughout the Caribbean as a staple, an accompaniment to fish and stews and a meal in itself. What makes it unique and distinguishes it from its now more fashionable cousin the Italian polenta, is the addition of okra. In some islands, cou-cou is spiced up by peppers and yellow-butter, but most Bajan recipes I found for it are very simple and contain only the ingredients below. That's a pity, because this recipe resulted in very bland, very boring cou-cou. It was edible, but not particularly worth eating.

The original recipe calls for the cou-cou to be placed in a buttered bowl and then unmolded into a serving dish. I didn't do that because I didn't think it was necessary and it meant dirtying yet another dish. You can, of course, if you'd like.

Note: Since posting this recipe for cou-cou I've gotten many messages about how I messed up. You can read them, and their suggestions here.



  • 4 okras
  • 4 cups water

  • 2 cups corn meal
  • 2 cups cold water

  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp butter


    Put water to boil in a medium-size pot. Thinly slice okra and add to boiling water. Cook for 10 to 12 minutes, until soft. Lower the heat.

    Meanwhile, combine corn meal with cold water and mix well.

    Add corn mixture to the okra. Add salt. Mix well and cook on low, stirring constantly with a flat wooden spoon or "cou-cou stick". The cou-cou will be ready when it's fairly stiff and it clean breaks away from the sides of the pot.

    Place the cou-cou in a serving dish and put the butter on top.

    Adapted from a recipe at the Traditional Bajan Recipes website.

  • Bajan Recipes | Margarita's International Recipes | E-mail