A Delicious Belizean Dish: Dukunu
Many visitors arrive in Belize completely unsure what to expect from the local cuisine. But Belize is a melting pot society with each culture contributing to the gastronomic heritage of the country, ensuring a delicious mix of flavors and ingredients able to tempt even the finickiest palate.
One of the signature dishes you’ll find in Belize is dukunu. Pronounced doo-koo-noo, this is Belize’s local version of Mexican tamales. First perfected thousands of years ago by the ancient Maya, dukunu is a unique culinary treat that is usually made without meat. While Mexican tamales are made from masa corn meal, dukunu gains its robust flavor from roasted corn kernels perfectly blended with coconut milk.
Dukunu is a labor-intensive dish, but everyone can enjoy this Belizean staple right at home.
- Several corn husks, pre-soaked in water until soft.
- 2 tablespoons of water.
- 1/2 cup of coconut milk.
- 2 teaspoons of baking powder.
- 1/2 teaspoon of salt.
- 1 teaspoon of sugar.
- 6-8 ears of corn, shucked.
- 2 tablespoons of butter (melted).
- Pre-heat your oven to 375 Fahrenheit (190 Celsius).
- Use butter to coat corn.
- Wrap each corn in foil.
- Roast corn in oven for 25-30 minutes until tender.
- Remove corn from oven, and use a knife to slice off corn kernels.
- Mix corn kernels and water in a blender until liquefied.
- Add coconut milk, remaining butter, salt, sugar, and baking powder to blender.
Mix until smooth.
- Use 1-2 tablespoons of corn mixture to fill a corn husk.
- Fold over sides of husk towards the center.
- Repeat until all corn husks are filled.
- Steam “tamales” for 30 minutes in a steamer, and serve piping hot.
For added authenticity, replace mixing roasted kernels and water in a blender, and instead mix by hand in a bowl. Continue to mix ingredients by hand. The resulting corn mixture will be less uniform.
Note: Be sure to inform guests that they must remove the husks before eating. This can be done either by hand or with a fork.
Dukunu is sometimes spelled duckanoo or duckunoo and is widely enjoyed throughout the Caribbean. On some of the Caribbean islands, dukunu is eaten as a dessert as it is made with added sugar. Regional variations include using sweet potato or pumpkin instead of corn.