Traditional Paime (payme) Recipe

A sweet cornmeal pie, filled with flavorful spices, rolled up in a banana leaf and steamed to perfection. This recipe will take you back to a Caribbean Christmas.

Recipe for making payme

We are how many days away from Christmas? Time sure does fly! Thanksgiving is next week. That means all the food has started to be planned for the season. Because preparation is important.

There are some foods that are intrinsically thought of as Christmas foods and one of them is paime (pronounced Pay-Me). This is a simple sweet cornmeal dessert, whose combination though can vary from island to island, but can unanimously be said that it is an island favorite.

As a child, the concept of Christmas was exciting. Putting up the tree, receiving gifts, family coming over. Basically me doing no work but enjoying the festivities.

As a young adult it got a bit tedious for the same reasons and now along with the added task of assisting in the prep work. Eventually I begged to eliminate the tree process ha. The food prep part was not avoidable.

I really hate the dishes that have a long process. Like making pastelles. The process of mixing, pressing, filling and boiling is the main reason why the pastelle pie was created. Same great flavor in a much simpler process.

How to make Payme

Paime, some times spelt payme, consists of cornmeal, raisins, coconut, sugar and some spices and then wrapped up in some banana skin.

Like a lot of our foods, there are different names for this depending on where you come from. One island calls it paime/payme, in Guyana, it is known as conkie, it is called blue drawers in Jamaica and is also called tie-a-leaf, duckoono or boyo.

Regardless of the different names, the steamed dish is an all-around favorite.

It is not too difficult to make. The wrapping may seem hard but it is not. As you can see it's wrapped in banana leaf, which acquiring was a mission in itself. I would love to thank my Dad for being a trooper and getting it to me from my Aunt.. in Tobago.

Step by step for wrapping paime payme

If you happen to not have access to banana leaves, foil is a great substitute. In fact, when boiling I sometimes wrap in the leaf then again in foil to make it more secure when boiling. Sometimes even though you have made the leaves as pliable as possible it still cracks a little. The additional use of foil makes it more secure and avoiding leaking while boiling.

Then we plop them into some boiling water to have them steam for a bit until they are nice and firm and cooked. The cornmeal is steamed to perfection and the smell of the spices when you open up that envelope is...

Though I might say this is a dessert, this is eaten anytime. Breakfast, lunch, snack, dinner. Some people don't make it very sweet (in fact it can be considered savory then) and might eat it along with some meat or fish.

Making Payme

However you eat it and whatever name you want to call it, paime is surely a treat that captures the full essence of the Christmas season in the Caribbean.

Yield: Makes

Traditional Paime Recipe

A sweet cornmeal pie, filled with flavorful spices, rolled up in a banana leaf and steamed to perfection. This recipe will take you back to a Caribbean Christmas. Also known as conkie, tie-a-leaf, duckoono. blue drawers or boyo.
prep time: 40 MINScook time: 40 MINStotal time: 80 mins


  • 3 cups cornmeal
  • 4 tablespoons shortening
  • 1/2 cup grated pumpkin
  • 1 1/2 cups grated coconut
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon 
  • 1/4 cup raisins
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Fig leaves or foil 
  • Twine for tying leaves


  1. Mix grated pumpkin and coconut with rest of ingredients (to a thick consistency adding a little water if necessary)
  2. Wipe leaves then cut them into 6" squares
  3. Dip leaves in hot water to make them pliable
  4. Add a spoonful of mixture onto each leave and tie into a parcel using twine
  5. Add to boiling water and boil for about 30 - 40 minutes
Created using The Recipes Generator

Other Caribbean Christmas favorites:

How to make Paime

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