The annual Notting Hill Carnival is just around the corner, with celebrations happening from Saturday August 29 to Monday August 31.

The Carnival celebrates Caribbean culture, and what better than cooking a delicious meal to get you into the festival spirit?

Getwestlondon's Emily Chudy caught up with the author of Creole Kitchen, Vanessa Bolosier, and she was kind enough to share some of her favourite recipes ahead of the Carnival... So go on, get cooking!

What is your favourite aspect of Caribbean and Creole cooking?

"Caribbean cooking is filled with so much meaning – it has food to comfort, food to impress, food to feed a tribe and even food for romance.

"Everyone can relate to Caribbean food as it pretty much represents the majority of continents. What I love about Creole cooking particularly is its versatility. Its Caribbean, cross-cultural nature means it has the rustic-ness and authenticity of the food in the region, along with some of the French cuisine refinement used in some of the techniques."

What is your personal favourite dish in your cookbook?

"Hard one! I'd say Creole cassoulet in the savoury and peanut cake (and coconut cake, and coconut flan…) in the dessert."

How long have you been cooking and inventing dishes for?

"I can't remember a time when I didn't cook - it's a family affair. I think inventing dishes comes naturally to anyone that is a cooking enthusiast. You switch it up, try things a different way, fail a few times and end up getting it right eventually.

"I invented recipes on a serious level when I started my supper club in 2012."

Where do you get your inspiration from?

"Going to a market in the Caribbean is the best place to get inspired. You see the live fish in the boat with rainbow colours; the arrays of spices; the colour; the freshness of the ingredients – my soul awakes and I start to think about the things I could create in the kitchen.

"I also like cooking with other people - to see what they do and how they do it differently. Knowledge exchange is important in the kitchen I think, especially when it's cross-cultural."

Are there any dishes in particular that our readers should try out ahead of the Notting Hill Carnival this year?

"I'd definitely focus on the cocktail section of the book, all rum based and all recipes for fun! Also, the corned beef bokits and the carnival fritters recipes."

What is your cooking philosophy?

"Cook with some nice tunes playing in the background and the rest will flow. I like dancing in the kitchen while cooking, I strongly believe cooking shouldn't be stressful, so my advice is to take it easy, pour yourself a bit of a rum drink and whatever you cook, make it so tasty that even you can't resist pinching bits of it while you make it!"

What ingredients could you never go without?

"I can't live without garlic, lime and hot chillies! Just can't."

Corned Beef Mini Bokits

Recipes are from Creole Kitchen by Vanessa Bolosier, published by Pavilion.

"This is what I call a 'hard times recipe'. Processed meat and fried dough wouldn't strike anyone as gourmet food, but they are delicious. This is the type of food you’d cook if you were trapped in your house during a hurricane or in the aftermath of a flood after a tropical downpour."

Makes 15–20 mini bokits.


½ tbsp fast-action dried (active dry) yeast

1 tsp salt

3 tbsp milk

200ml/7fl oz/scant 1 cup water

375g/13oz plain (all-purpose) flour, plus extra for dusting

1 litre/1¾ pints/4 cups vegetable oil


3 tbsp vegetable oil

1 can (about 350g/12oz) corned beef (canned pressed beef), chopped

1 onion, very finely chopped

1 spring onion (scallion), very finely chopped

3 garlic cloves, crushed and
very finely chopped

1 Scotch bonnet chilli, deseeded, very finely chopped

2 sprigs thyme, leaves only

2 sprigs parsley, very finely chopped

1 tbsp white vinegar

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

  1. To make the bokits: in a small bowl, dissolve the yeast and the salt in the milk. Pour the yeasty milk into a large mixing bowl and add the water and flour. Knead for at least 10 minutes, until the dough is smooth and elastic. Shape into a ball, place in an oiled bowl, cover and leave in a warm place to rise for at least 5 hours.
  2. To make the filling, heat the oil in a frying pan (skillet) over a medium–high heat. Add the corned beef and cook for about 2 minutes. Add the onion, spring onion, garlic, chilli, thyme and parsley and cook, stirring frequently, for 3–4 minutes until thoroughly cooked and slightly crisp.
  3. Add the vinegar and stir to deglaze the pan. Add salt and pepper to taste, cook for another minute and then remove from the heat.
  4. To shape the bokits, pinch a small ball of dough about 5cm/2in wide and 2mm/ ¼ in thick. On a lightly floured work surface, roll out the dough to a thin circle about 15cm/6in in diameter. Place 2 tablespoons of the corned beef mixture on one side of the circle and fold the other half over the corned beef. Press down the edges. Repeat until you have used all the filling.
  5. In a deep pan, heat the oil over a medium heat until it reaches 180°C/350°F, or until a cube of bread browns in 3 seconds. Gently lower a bokit into the oil and cook for about 1 minute on each side, until golden and crisp. Scoop out of the oil and drain on paper towels. Eat while still hot.

Coconut Punch

Recipes are from Creole Kitchen by Vanessa Bolosier, published by Pavilion.

"Having punch coco for Christmas in the Caribbean Creole islands is a tradition, like having eggnog in the USA or mulled wine in the UK. From the time I was eight years old, and my brother was five, we were allowed a finger of coconut punch every Christmas, which we loved not for the rum, but for its deliciously creamy taste."

Serves 8–10.

200ml/7fl oz/scant 1 cup white rhum agricole

400ml/14fl oz/1⅔ cups coconut milk

200g/7oz/scant 1 cup condensed milk

150ml/5fl oz/⅔ cup cane syrup

2 pinches grated cinnamon

1 pinch grated nutmeg

Grated zest of 1 lime

1 vanilla pod, cut in half lengthwise

  1. Put the rum, coconut milk, condensed milk and cane syrup in a large mixing bowl. Stir with a wooden spoon until rich and thick.
  2. Add the cinnamon, nutmeg and lime zest. Using a small knife, scrape the seeds from the vanilla pod and add to the bowl. Stir until evenly mixed.
  3. Using a funnel, pour the coconut punch into an empty rum bottle and place in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours.
    You can keep it in the refrigerator for up to 2 months.
  4. Shake well before serving.

Tip: This is best made with freshly grated cinnamon stick and whole nutmeg, and a fresh vanilla pod. However, you can use ground cinnamon and nutmeg, and replace the vanilla pod with 1 tablespoon vanilla extract.

For all the amazing pictures and action from last year's Notting Hill Carnival, check out our gallery!