Bajan Seasoning: The Barbadian Spice Blend

Bajan seasoning is a combination of herbs and spices that reflect the tastes and culinary traditions of people from Barbados. Bajan is a shortened term Barbadian, which denotes residents of Barbados. Barbados is a small island on the western side of the West Indies.

The ingredients in Bajan seasoning show the island’s long colonial history and its ties to Europe. As such, it has a lot in common with Jamaican jerk seasoning. All of the blend’s constituents originate in Europe, mostly from the Mediterranean region. While some Bajan seasoning blends do contain allspice, many do not. Allspice is native to various parts of the Caribbean and scotch bonnet peppers are from the Americas, but none of the other ingredients originate in the West Indies.

The history of Europe’s influence in Barbados began with a Portuguese explorer named Pedro a Campos. He discovered it on the way to Brazil and gave it the name that it holds to this day. The name Barbados translates to Bearded Ones. Mediterranean herbs and spices used in Bajan cuisine likely emerged from the island’s connection to the Portuguese.

Bajan seasoning flavor profile

The herbs most often included in Bajan seasoning blends are:

As with many other traditional seasoning blends, the ingredients in Bajan seasoning and the proportions of those ingredients will differ depending on who is making it. It is not uncommon for Bajan cooks to have their own personal blends. This means that the flavor profile will also vary. In most cases, what you can expect is a blend that is very similar to that of jerk seasoning. The emphasis is on savory aromatic (and spicy) spices that will provide a mild bitterness as well as woodsy herbal notes from the thyme and marjoram.

Health benefits of Bajan seasoning

Each of the spices in Bajan seasoning brings its own set of nutrients to the table. Among the health-enhancing compounds in Bajan seasoning are:

  • Minerals: Cloves provide several minerals including iron, magnesium and calcium. It is a great source of the mineral manganese. The green onions in Bajan seasoning provide smaller amounts of calcium and iron.
  • Capsaicin: Capsaicin is the compound that provides the heat in hot peppers. While not an essential nutrient, it has numerous health benefits.
  • Dietary fiber: With the exception of the salt included in some blends, every ingredient in Bajan seasoning blends provides some amount of dietary fiber.

By including Bajan seasoning in your dishes, you may help to treat or prevent certain health problems. Those problems include:

  • Constipation: By providing a decent amount of fiber, Bajan seasoning may help to shorten the time it takes for food to pass through the gut.
  • Food poisoning: The antibacterial properties of both clove and thyme may be beneficial for preventing foodborne illness.
  • Marjoram: Marjoram is beneficial for improving digestion. Aside from the fiber it contains, it can also stimulate the production of digestive enzymes to break food down.

Common uses of Bajan seasoning

It’s used as an all-purpose seasoning blend for a variety of different proteins. The national dish of Barbados is fried fish seasoned with Bajan seasoning and accompanied by cou-cou. Cou-cou is a cornmeal-based dish made with okra. Bajan seasoning may also be used to marinate meats like chicken or beef or as a base seasoning for meats that will be used in a curry dish.