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Otley Carnival | mid June

Carnival food hideme

A major feature of the Leeds West Indian Carnival is the huge selection of mouth watering West Indian cuisine that is available from stalls throughout the event. The streets are full of the irresistible smells – from the Carnival ‘must taste’ jerk chicken, to festival (Jamaican dumplings), from West Indian curries with rice and peas to mango coleslaw – and lots more besides. 

In the resources on this page, we look at how you can link the study of the delicious food of Carnival with the cooking and nutrition study requirements of the national curriculum. 

Curriculum links

Design & Technology (Cooking and Nutrition); History (Black History; Local Study), Geography, Visual Art, Literacy, Maths

Design & Technology (Cooking and Nutrition); History, Visual Art 

Aim of resources 

The resources on this page give children an understanding of West Indian food, where it comes from, how it represents a healthy and varied diet and how to prepare and cook a variety of savoury West Indian dishes using a range of cooking techniques. 

Learning objectives

  • Knowledge of West Indian food and what is on offer at Carnival. 
  • Understanding of how West Indian food is produced and prepared. 
  • Skills – preparing and cooking a variety of West Indian dishes, including hot and cold dishes, meat, vegetables, desserts, etc. using a variety of cooking equipment, scales, knives, utensils. Researching. Drawing. Creating a quiz. 

Discussion ideas:

  • What food is available at Carnival? How is this different from food available other festivals in the UK? Why is it different

  • Read these descriptions of Carnival food and discuss how you feel about the food.

    Jerk Chicken and Festival (West Indian Dumplings) – it’s BBQ chicken amped up by being steeped in secret blends of spiced marinades and rubs for at least 24 hours. Watch out for the hot pepper sauce – when we say hot we mean HOT! Try with the deep fried sweet cornmeal based festivals. Delish!

    Curry goat with rice and peas
    – this Carnival staple is traditionally served across the Caribbean. More likely to be mutton in the UK, it is seasoned with flavour packed herbs and spices and scotch bonnet pepper. Comes with rice and red peas fragrant with coconut, garlic, thyme and pepper.

    Sugar Cane
    – looks like a piece of bamboo but by the time it’s stripped and expertly chopped into chunks you’re good to go. Just chew, enjoy the sweet cane juice and get rid of the husk as politely as you can!

  • Look at the food produced in the Caribbean. How does this differ from food produced in the UK? Do you think that farming techniques are different in the Caribbean?  

  • Look at the food available at Carnival. Which is the healthiest? How would you work these foods into a balanced diet? What would a West Indian balanced diet look like? 


Activity ideas:

  • Prepare and cook a dish in the classroom. There are lots of recipes on the Internet. Don’t worry if you don’t have a teaching kitchen in school – simple recipes are available to practice techniques like peeling, chopping and mashing; or to use portable facilities like an electric hotplate; or to prepare food in the classroom that can be cooked at home. Search for West Indian Pumpkin Soup, Festival, Jerk Chicken, Mango Coleslaw, Goat Curry, Rice and Peas.

  • Imagine you are a street food vendor and write your shopping list of ingredients. Make a poster, a menu and a price list for your stall. Make model food from tissue paper, clay, foam, etc. Set up a stall in the classroom and sell your food.

  • Taste test different foods

  • Using a selection of West Indian foods, study the food labels discuss what this teaches us about culture, nutrition, farming, etc

  • Grow your own mangos!  – when you make the mango coleslaw plant the seeds found inside the pit.

  • Research these ten West Indian fruits. Draw them and label the drawings. Create an identification quiz - Passion fruit, green bananas, noni, cherimoya, ackee, bread fruit, sapodilla, chayote, guava, coconut. 
Jerk chicken plate
Goat soup in Jamaican cuisine