Bajan Cou Cou

Bajan Cou Cou

Cou cou, which is typically served with flying fish is the national dish of Barbados. So as a Bajan, I grew up on this stuff. I must say that I did dislike it with a passion as a child, but as I got older I grew to appreciate it, and absolutely love it, sans the fish of course. Cou Cou is somewhat similar to polenta and is made with cornmeal and okras, so if you like cornmeal and okras, then you most likely will enjoy Cou Cou.

I’ve made a vegan alternative to the fish gravy, using chickpeas instead. Hope you try it and you like it! Sound off on the comments below and let me know your thoughts!


Author Vegan Bajan


  • 1 cup corn meal
  • 2/3 cup thinly sliced okras
  • 1 medium onion chopped
  • 3 tbsp vegan butter
  • 3 cups water
  • salt to taste

For gravy:

  • 1 medium yellow onion cut in thin circles
  • 1 large tomato sliced in circles
  • 1/3 cup vegan friendly ketchup
  • 1 tbsp Bajan hot pepper sauce
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1 tbsp garlic minced
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 tbsp fresh thyme
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp vegan butter
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 15 oz can chickpeas


  1. In a bowl, combine the cornmeal with sufficient water to cover the meal. Set aside.
  2. Place the sliced okras in a saucepan with water, chopped onion and salt. Bring to a medium boil for a few minutes until the okras soften.
  3. Strain the okras into a bowl, setting aside the liquid.
  4. Add about a quarter of the okra liquid back into the saucepan and add the soaked meal . You'll need a whisk or wooden stick to stir the cou cou as it cooks. In Barbados we use a flat wooden spoon known as a 'cou cou stick'. Stir constantly to avoid lumping.
  5. Add more of the okra liquid gradually. You can tell you're nearly finished when the cou cou starts to bubble gently at the surface. At this point add in the cooked okra slices and continue stirring for another 2-3 minutes.
  6. Remove from the heat and stir in the vegan butter. Make into flattened circle balls for serving.

For gravy:

  1. In saucepan, add oil and sweat the onion and garlic for about 2 minutes, then add all remaining ingredients and stir and cook for about 10 minutes on medium heat. Pour gravy over the Cou Cou when serving.

1 Comment
  • wiseassvegan
    Posted at 03:27h, 10 July Reply

    Looks very tasty,will try! Veganizing traditional and loved dishes should be considered an Olympic sport. Thanks for sharing.why is it called cou cou?

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