This recipe was passed down by my mom. Before we had a food processor, we used a stainless steel grater. You know, the 4-sided type? Dad would crack open and shimmy out coconuts from the shell and my mom, sister and I took turns grating it with the sweet potato and carrots.
Needless to say, we always made a big batch at a time because no one wanted to grate on a regular basis! Luckily, Ducana freezes beautifully if wrapped well and put in a freezer-safe bag or container. If you don't need as much, you can definitely halve the ingredient. To re-heat, unwrap and steam until defrosted. Serve with traditional Saltfish and Chop chop for the best experience!
Makes about 12 Ducana
2 cups grated sweet potato
1 cup grated coconut, fresh or dry-shredded
½ cup grated carrot
3 ½ tablespoons softened butter or margarine
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 ½ teaspoon freshly grated or ground nutmeg
¾ cup sugar
½ cup raisins (optional)
3 cups flour
½ cup water (optional)
Fresh or frozen banana leaves and twine, or foil (for wrapping)
Specialty tip: you can find frozen banana leaves at most African, Asian or Latin groceries and other well-stocked supermarkets. Also, toasting the banana leaves lend a delicious flavour to the Ducana.
Variation: some people add vanilla extract. I never have but you could add 1 teaspoon vanilla extract when mixing the first 7 ingredients.
1. Bring a large pot of unsalted water to boil and keep at a simmer.
2. Prepare the banana leaves: if the banana leaves are not pre-cut, cut twelve 10 x 10 inch squares. Wipe well with a clean, wet towel then dry. Toast the leaves lightly over heat on both sides until they are flexible.
3. In a large bowl, mix the first 7 ingredients. Stir in the raisins if using. Add 2 ¾ cups of flour. Mix well but do not over mix - the mixture should drop easily from a spoon but keep shape. Note: the moisture content of the sweet potato, coconut, and carrot will determine how much flour you end up using. Add extra flour or water as needed to get the right consistency.
4. Place ½ cup ducana mixture in the center of a banana leaf and shape into a 5 x 2 inch rectangle. Fold the banana leaves over to completely encase the mixture and secure with twine. You can also enclose very well with foil.
5. Increase the heat so the water is at a gentle boil. Add each ducana ‘packet’ one at a time. Boil for 35 minutes for a softer texture, 45 minutes for medium, and 55 minutes for firm. Remove from the water. Allow to cool in the packet for at least 10 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature. You can leave whole or slice in desired shapes.