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What is Bammy Bread?

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  • Written By: Tricia Ellis-Christensen
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 21 September 2016
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Bammy bread is a Jamaican flatbread that uses the cassava root, what we might know more familiarly as tapioca, as the essential starch ingredient. Bammy bread has been compared to pancakes, and it can either be fried much like a flatbread, or baked, and turned over to brown both sides. Unlike the American pancake, bammy bread is often an accompaniment to savory foods, and most popular served with fish dishes.

Bammy bread is made with grated cassava, which is pressed in cloth or paper to remove most of its moisture. You’ll find it in great supply in Jamaica, and its popularity has additionally migrated to the US, especially in the southern states. Finding cassava root is often the trickiest part of making the bread. Check specialty grocers if you want to make your own bread.

The cassava root for bammy bread has to be prepared specially, since in raw form it can contain some cyanide. The root is normally grated, and rinsed at least once. It is then usually dried before being salted and formed into small cakes about 4 inches (10.16 cm) in diameter.

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You can find dessert forms of bammy bread that are definitely delicacies. Sometimes after the cake has been cooked, it is cooled, and then dipped into coconut milk. The bammy bread or cake is then fried again, and may be served with sweet syrup or as a breakfast food. Still, it is more common to find bammy bread served with savory foods, most especially fried fish.

Bammy bread frequently has to be special ordered from Jamaica, or online Jamaican food store sites. You’ll note that it looks quite similar to small flour tortillas, and is fairly inexpensive to buy. You may find it in the occasional Jamaican or Cajun restaurant, and will more typically find it offered in the Southern US. It is very difficult to find the bread in the Northern States, unless you’re lucky enough to have a Jamaican restaurant close by.

Of course, one way to try bammy bread in its most authentic incarnations is to travel to Jamaica. This would probably guarantee you the freshest bammy bread possible, as well as providing a fantastic vacation destination. On the other hand, not all people have the luxury of making such a trip, no matter how much they’d like to. In this case, try Internet stores, international grocery stores or try your hand at a number of bammy bread recipes available on the Internet or in Jamaican cookbooks.

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Monika
Post 6

There's actually an international grocery store near me that sells bammy bread at the bakery. One thing I love about the United States is that you can get all kind of food here, whether it's at a restaurant or a specialty store.

Anyway, I enjoy bammy bread every now and then. The first time I saw it, I did think it was some kind of tortilla, because of how it looks. However, I definitely wouldn't try to use bammy bread as a tortilla. It's definitely the wrong consistency.

indemnifyme
Post 5

@strawCake - That does sound scary, but I doubt people would still be using cassava if cyanide-related accidents happened frequently.

I've never tried bammy (yet) but I really like most kinds of flatbread. I find it interesting you can have bammy bread as a desert, because it's been my experience that most flatbreads are served with some kind of spicy sauce or on the side of a meal. I've never had flatbread as a desert before, but I think I would like to.

I'm not sure if I'm up to making bammy bread, but I might try using some other kind of flatbread and making it into some kind of sweet fried dessert.

strawCake
Post 4

I used to live near a Jamaican restaurant, and I would eat there every now and then. They served bammy bread at the table before the meal, and it was one of my favorite parts of eating there. They would also serve it on the side with some dishes.

I always liked bammy bread, but I've never thought about trying to make it myself at home. I'm a little disturbed by the fact that cassava root contains some cyanide.

Imagine what a disaster if would be if you tried to make bammy bread and didn't prepare the cassava right? I'm not sure if I'm willing to take the risk. Usually if I mess up in the kitchen, at least no one gets poisoned!

fify
Post 3

@alisha-- Well, they're similar but not quite the same. Bammies are much thicker than casabe. Casabe is really thin, light and almost cracker like as you said. Bammies are bread, they're soft and moist. I think they're more like chappati bread than casabe, except with cassava root.

And I've never heard of casabe eaten sweet or dipped in coconut milk. I think it's usually eaten with meals unlike Jamaican bread which can double as dessert.

Both casabe and bammy have a long history though. They were eaten by the original inhabitants in both places before and they left a huge impact on new arrivers and conquesters. Bammy bread and casabe bread are probably more than 500 years old.

discographer
Post 2

Is bammy the same as casabe bread then?

Casabe bread is also made with cassava root and it's eaten in the Dominican Republic. My mom's side is Dominican and when my grandmother comes to visit, she always makes us casabe bread. They're thin, small and round. My mom says that in the Dominican Republic, the bakeries make them very large and one is enough for the whole family.

We have them for breakfast with coffee and along with lunch and dinner sometimes. I like to eat them as crackers with dips and cheese. Yum!

bear78
Post 1

I have bammy Jamaican bread all the time at my Jamaican friend's house. The ones that she makes are actually pretty thick, much thicker than Mexican tortillas or Indian chapati bread. It is also very fluffy inside. It might be her style of making it and she does fry them rather than bake them. In fact, they are more like fritters than bread to me but they are really tasty, that's for sure.

My friend usually serves it with fried fish but she said that it's also very popular as breakfast food. I think it would be great for breakfast, with coconut milk and syrup. Kind of like french toast but better. I could have it as a mid-afternoon snack with some tea or coffee too, if I could make them! Thankfully, I get some almost every time I visit my friend, I'm really lucky!

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