With its golden flaky crescent crust, stuffed with meat seasoned with onions, thyme, garlic, cumin and scotch bonnet pepper, the patty pitches Jamaicans fiercely in the corners of their favourite patty shop.The origin of the patty is unclear, but just like Jamaica’s motto, “Out of many, one people,” the patty can claim that culinary right. The shape is similar to the one of the turnover, a type of pastry introduced by European colonists. The familiar blend of curry and cumin seasoning was first introduced by indentured Indian servants, making it a delight known to the world over. The crust’s trademark golden texture is from an egg yolk mixture (which accounts for most of the calories) or a turmeric spice mix.
This lunchtime favourite is cheap, but a delicious snack, and is often served between cocoa bread, to make it a complete meal. You can tell when someone has had a patty by the golden flakes that often decorates the corners of their mouths and their clothes. At lunchtime, you can be certain to expect long lines at Jamaica’s top three most popular stores: Tastee, Mother’s Patty, and Juici Patties. Here’s the rundown on the 3 Jamaican classic Patty shops:
Established in 1966 by returning resident Vincent Chang, Tastee is the oldest of the three chains. Chang, who saw a business opportunity in the growing demand for patties, modified the recipe as well as introduced new machinery to meet the demand. Tastee has stayed true to their patty roots and sells about 150,000 patties island wide. The flake is very crusty, guaranteeing a lip-smacking crunch in every bite. Tastee’s patties are very flavourful and if you’re the type to savour your patty, you can see bits of scallion and onion in the meat. The meat’s texture is stew-like with firm clusters encased in the pastry making every bite a taste of heaven.
Founded in 1981 by Adrian B Foreman, Mother’s Patty started out as a patty shop in Kingston’s Half Way Tree. The small shop has now expanded to a chain, and has turned up the patty game by offering an array of patties flavour including beef, fish, soy, chicken, bacon, pork, and curry goat. You can even have these patties fully loaded with lettuce, cheese and tomato if the usual coco bread complement is too simple for your elevated palate. You can definitely taste the Indian spices of curry and cumin in their beef patties, leaving Mother’s Patty as the go-to choice for comforting take on a Jamaican classic.
Juici Patties was sixteen year old Jukie Chin’s way of securing employment after graduation. Twenty years later, the franchise is spread across Jamaica serving patties, snacks, and hot meals. Their other factory is located in Toronto, Canada Side note; their breakfast porridge is very popular. Without a doubt, Juici has the most meat filling out of all three franchises and is the choice for patty lovers looking for the biggest bite for their buck.
The patty has seen many creative twists from the vegan Rastafarian inspired yatti to the fried dough technique mainly practiced in Negril. Vegetarian patties stuffed with ackee, callaloo, saltfish, curried chickpeas are available at smaller eateries across the island. Whatever its composition, one thing is sure, the patty makes for one delicious meal!