Ducana is a type of boiled sweet potato dumpling from the Caribbean island of Antigua. Variations are also popular in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Trinidad and Tobago, and surrounding islands. Grated sweet potatoes are mixed together with grated coconut, sugar, raisins (optional), spices, and flour. The mixture is folded in banana leaves or foil and boiled until firm.
For a full meal, serve this sweet dish with saltfish (here is a recipe for Saltfish Buljolde) or other stewed fish and chop-up (spinach, eggplant, and okra or other vegetables). This meal is particularly popular during the Easter season on Good Friday.
Leftover Ducana can also be sliced and pan-fried for a nice crispy texture on the outside.
I grated the sweet potatoes using a food processor. This still made the pieces a little too long for my liking, so next time I will switch the blades to pulse them for a more fine and uniform mixture. You can also manually grate the peeled sweet potatoes or use a blender with some water added.
I used fresh, grated coconut located in the freezer section of my local grocery store. Finely grated carrots may also be added.
If the dough is too dry, mix in just enough water to form a cohesive dough (I needed about 1/4 cup). The exact amount will depend on the water content of your sweet potatoes and coconut.
I wrapped the dumplings in banana leaves, then aluminum foil for an added layer of protection. You can use one or the other. If using only banana leaves, secure them with twine before adding to the boiling water. Here is a video showing how to make the ducana and wrap them. I found the banana leaves in the frozen section of the International market specializing in Latin American/Asian ingredients. Rinse the leaves under hot water or lightly toast over an open flame to help make them pliable.
Boil the Ducana from 30-45 minutes based on personal preference. 30 minutes will keep them a bit softer. 45 will make them firm enough to slice and fry if desired.
I halved the original recipe for our family. The ingredients can easily be doubled.
Ducana (Antiguan Sweet Potato Dumpling) Recipe
Adapted from Ruby Deubry
Ducana (Antiguan Sweet Potato Dumpling)
- 1 cup finely grated sweet potato
- 3/4 cup fresh grated coconut
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter room temperature
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 3/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- 1/4 cup raisins optional
- 1- 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
- 1/4 cup water
- Banana leaves and kitchen twine/foil for wrapping
Bring a large pot of unsalted water to a boil.
In a large bowl, combine the grated sweet potato and coconut. Mix in the sugar, butter, cinnamon, vanilla, nutmeg, and raisins.
Mix in just enough flour to form a cohesive dough. If it is too dry, add about 1/4 cup water.
Cut the banana leaves into squares, 6-10 inches depending on how large you want your Ducana. Rinse the banana leaves under hot water or heat lightly over an open flame until they are pliable. Transfer some of the dough into the center of a banana square and form into a rectangle/cylinder. Fold the banana over the dough to cover on all sides, then wrap with the twine to secure or wrap with foil. Repeat with remaining dough.
Reduce the boiling water to medium-high for a gentle boil. Add the packets of dough and cook to desired doneness, 30 minutes for slightly soft and 45 minutes for more firm. Remove from the pot and allow to cool for 10 minutes before unwrapping.