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Museumand recipe contribution: Duckanoo, Blue Drawers, or Tie-A-Leaf

Duckanoo is a boiled pudding also named ‘tie-leaf’ or ‘blue drawers’. A variation on the African Ducana, Duckanoo can be made using green bananas, cornmeal or even pumpkin. This dish is associated with the days of slavery. Traditionally, it was cooked by wrapping the mixture in a piece of banana leaf, tied with banana bark. The banana leaf gave the pudding a blue tinge, while the shape of the parcel was said to resemble an item of ladies underwear, hence the name blue drawers. Today, cooks often substitute banana leaf for aluminium foil, and tie the parcel with string.

Ingredients ​​

  • 2 cups cornmeal

  • 1/2 tsp salt

  • 3/4 cup brown sugar

  • 1/2 tsp grated nutmeg

  • 1/2 tsp mixed spice

  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon powder

  • 1/4 cup raisins

  • 1/4 cup grated coconut

  • 1 1/2 cups coconut milk

  • 1 tsp vanilla

  • Banana leaves or aluminium foil

  • Banana bark or string


  • Mix all dry ingredients and grated coconut together.
  • Add coconut milk and vanilla, and mix well.
  • Place about 1/2 cup of mixture unto the banana leaf or foil.
  •  Fold up the sides to make a secure parcel.
  • Tie with banana bark or string.
  • Drop into boiling water. There should be enough water to cover the parcels.
  • Simmer for about an hour.
  • Remove banana leaves (and foil, of course) before eating.

Recipe provided by museumand as part of their ongoing research into Caribbean cooking and traditions.

Carmen Dunwell

Helping around the house and looking after her younger siblings was the training that helped Carmen become focused and disciplined. She is now a great cook with a countywide reputation as a party and event caterer in Nottinghamshire. She has prepared celebration cakes and food for weddings, birthday parties, christenings, baptisms and funerals. Her culinary skills, learned from her mother at a very early age, included making two very popular Caribbean drinks – sorrel and ginger beer. Even today, Carmen, a member of the Windrush generation, is still trying to meet the local demand for these drinks, mainly because many Caribbeans have lost the time & patience needed to let them brew. Carmen recalls that getting the right ingredients in the early years of her arrival in the UK to ensure their authentic taste was difficult. It took a couple of years before the ingredients were imported by UK food retailers.