On November 19th in 1802, the first boats carrying the Garinagu landed on Belizean shores. These people were escaping slavery plantations from Caribbean islands. With them, they brought a wealth of culture — touching every element of society from music to food and language. Today, this culture and its people are stronger than ever. An estimated 17,000 Garifuna people, or Garinagu, reside in Belize today comprising about 6 percent of the population. Their arrival to Belize and influence on the country each year is celebrated as a national holiday on 19 November as Garifuna Settlement Day.
Throughout the country, there are re-enactments of their arrival, infectious punta beats and traditionally, a wealth of celebratory events. Of course, food is a large part of this. As we look forward to this Belizean celebration, we share a recipe for one of the most popular Garifuna dishes – sere. Green-ripened plantains boiled, mashed, and served with a fish broth made of coconut milk, boiled okra, garlic, habaneros, and fresh herbs. For those that want to celebrate Garifuna Settlement Day at home or in the kitchen, try this recipe from Flavors of Belize: The Cookbook.
Garifuna Fish Sere Recipe
- 4 large green plantains, peeled
- 2 large ripe plantains, peeled
- 2 cups coconut milk
- 1 cup onion, sliced
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 whole habanero peppers, deseeded
- 1 bunch fresh basil
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 4 medium snapper filets
Place green and ripe plantains in a pot of salted water and boil until ripe plantains are soft, approximately 20 minutes. Drain. Purée while still warm, adding water to keep the consistency of porridge and set aside. Place coconut milk, onion, garlic, habanero and basil in a stockpot and bring to a gentle simmer, stirring occasionally for 15 to 20 minutes. Add snapper filets to the rich coconut broth, and continue to simmer until the fish is cooked. Add salt to taste. Drop spoonful’s of purée into bowl of hot soup.
Serve 4 to 6
In Belize and want to learn more about the Garifuna culture? Head to Seine Bight or Hopkins that both have a tight knit Garifuna community. Here are our top picks for things to do whilst there. Throughout the month, we’ll be celebrating Garifuna Settlement Day with articles dedicated to the rich culture, people and traditions. Make sure to keep an eye out on Caribbean Culture + Lifestyle.