FOOD | Duckunoo, Blue Drawers or Tie-a-Leaf

FOOD | Duckunoo, Blue Drawers or Tie-a-Leaf

Duckunoo, aka Blue Drawers,  or tie-a-leaf, is a Caribbean dessert made with sweet potato, flour, coconut, spices and raisins, brown sugar, all boiled and wrapped up in a banana leaf. After about an hour of cooking this gift-wrapped delicacy, inside becomes a sweet, delicious mush.

Jamaican blue drawers was originated from West Africa. It was called duckunoo in Ghana by the Asante tribe. The method of cooking corn dough in banana leaves was brought to the Caribbean by the enslaved Africans.

IngredientsBlue Drawers or DuckunuBlue Drawers or Duckunu

  • 1 cup grated green banana
  • 2 cups grated (Jamaican) sweet potatoes
  • 2 to 3 cups coconut milk
  • 1 cup cornmeal or flour
  • 1 to 2 cups brown sugar
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 3 tsp. vanilla flavoring
  • 3 tsp nutmeg
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 tsp allspice
  • 2 cups raisins
  • ½  cup coconut oil
  • 1 cup Jamaican white rum (optional)
  • 6″x 6” banana leaf (8 pieces)
  • culinary cord for tying

(Note: Banana leaves are sold in some supermarkets in the freezer section.)


Bring water to boil in a deep, heavy pot. In a large mixing bowl add: the grated bananas, sweet potatoes, flour or cornmeal, coconut milk, salt, sugar, vanilla, spices, raisins and cooking oil. Use a large spoon to mix the ingredients. Spread banana leaf pieces out on a table and add three spoonfuls of the mixture to the center of the banana leaf.

Fold the leaf around the mixture, taking care not to rip it. Tie each securely and put each packet carefully on a large plate. Continue until all the mixture is used. Place all the wrapped mixture (using a very large spoon or spatula ) into the pot of boiling water.

Allow to cook for about 45 minutes to one hour. Remove each from the boiling water and allow to cool to room temperature. Untie each from the banana leaf and serve as is, with rum cream or with vanilla ice cream.

Chef Minna Lafortune 


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