How to Make Conkies


Ins & Outs of Barbados

November 24, 2020

The conkie or “stew dumpling” is a traditional delicacy of corn meal with sweet potato, pumpkin and other ingredients. The broad leaf of the banana plant is “quailed” in boiling water to make it supple, and the dough is wrapped in these leaves and steamed until cooked.

When Guy Fawkes Day (5 November) was celebrated in Barbados (Guy Fawkes was an Englishman who plotted to blow up the British Parliament in 1605, and the day was celebrated to commemorate his failure), conkies were the delicacy for the occasion, since it is around this time that the Indian corn ripens to produce the flour used.

With independence in November 1966, celebration of Guy Fawkes’ Day was discontinued; conkies are now eaten mainly around Independence. A similar delicacy is known in Ghana as “kenkey”, evidently the origin of the local name, and among the Ashanti as “dukunoo”. In other parts of the Caribbean it is referred to as “dukuna”, or some variant, while the odd term “blue drawers” is used in Jamaica.

This excerpt was taken from the A to Z of Barbados Heritage available from


2 cups 12oz/375g cornmeal
1/2 cup 3oz/100g flour
3/4 lb/375g pumpkin
6 oz/185g butter
1/2 lb/250g sweet potato
4 oz/125g raisins
3/4 lb/375g brown sugar
1 cup 8floz/250ml milk
1 tsp mixed spice
1/2 tsp grated nutmeg
1 tsp almond essence
1 tsp salt
Banana or plantain leaves, steamed and cut in 8” squares


  1. Grate coconut, pumpkin and sweet potato.
  2. Mix in sugar, liquids and spices.
  3. Add raisins and flour last and combine well.
  4. Melt shortening before adding with milk etc.
  5. Fold a few tablespoons of the mixture into an 8” piece of banana or plantain leaf. Fold edges over to make a neat parcel and tie securely with string.
  6. Place conkies on a rack and steam in a large saucepan for one hour, cover  plantain and banana leaves.

This recipe was taken from Bajan Cooking in a Nutshell, visit to learn more or order a copy.

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