Recipe: Ital Stew


Ital stew is a Jamaican dish aligned with the Rastafarian movement. The word “ital” is derived from the word vital, and is similar to the concept of kosher. Specifically, ital food should be vegetarian, unprocessed, and from the earth. Some believe that even iodized salt should be avoided, and only pure sea salt is acceptable. Since meat is considered dead, it is not ital, although some Rastafari are known to eat small fish.


  • ½ yellow plantain
  • 2 cup collard greens, sliced
  • 2 cup pumpkin or squash
  • ½ tsp thyme
  • 3 carrots
  • 1 tbsp lime juice
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tsp whole allspice
  • 2 cup water
  • 3 green onions
  • 2 cup coconut milk
  • sea salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 handful cilantro
  • 1 cup okra
  • 2 cup taro
  • 2 cup potatoes
Prep your ingredients

Step 1

Prep Your Ingredients

Cut your ingredients into bite-sized pieces. In a stockpot, warm the olive oil over medium heat, then add the onion. Sauté until translucent and softened, about 4 minutes. Add the garlic, allspice, and thyme, and sauté until aromatic, about 1 minute.

Step 2

Make The Soup

Add the green onions, bay leaves, coconut milk, and water. Bring to a simmer, then add the pumpkin and taro, and cook for 5 minutes. Reduce heat if it turns into a boil – you’re looking for a lively simmer, but not a full-on boil. Add the potatoes and cook for another 3 minutes. Stir in the okra, plantain, and carrots, and cook for another 5 minutes. Finally, remove the green onions (and any bay leaves and thyme sprigs you can find), then add the collard greens; simmer until darkened and bright green, about 4 more minutes. At this point, all of the vegetables should be easily pierced with a fork.

put it all together

Step 3

Put It All Together

Remove from heat, and add the lime juice. Add salt and pepper to taste; once it tastes good, stir in the cilantro and serve.

Step 4

Tips And Tricks

** This stew is traditionally made with split peas, which I omitted to save time and because many people avoid dried peas on a Paleo-style diet. To cook this dish with peas, you’d want to soak them for 10-12 hours, then add the peas when you add the coconut milk and water, and cook until soft, about 1.5 hours, before moving on to the next steps. ** Be sure to tell your dinner guests not to eat the whole pimentos. If you’re serving this to children, consider using 1/2 tsp ground allspice instead of whole berries. ** To give the stew a little bit of a kick, you can add a scotch bonnet (or habanero) pepper when you add the coconut milk and water, and remove it before serving. For more spice, burst the pepper in the stew before removing it.

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