Caribbean classics from Mama Cynth's yard
- Credit: Sonia McDonnell
It has been a complete treat to have meals delivered to the house during this past year or so, especially when it is food I don’t know how to cook. This week I want to tell you about Mama Cynth’s Yard Food, aka Sonia McDonnell. As the chances of any of us going to Jamaica seems remote at the moment, I can heartily recommend Sonia’s home cooking instead.
You might recognise Sonia from the farmers' market stall that she ran for many years, which specialised in Caribbean-inspired cakes, chutneys and sauces. I have had delicious bakes from her over the years, including her vegan patties, which are hand-size pastries filled with vegetables and curry powder.
Early last year, Sonia decided to move towards home-cooked meals for delivery, and this has kept her very busy, especially with regulars from her stall.
The menu features classics such as curry mutton, jerk chicken, ackee and saltfish, run down cod or mackerel, ital stew peas and fried plantain.
We are a family of vegetarians and meat eaters, so we tried quite a range from the menu. My stand-out was the saltfish fritters (‘stamp and go’) which were incredibly moreish, crispy on the outside, and super-fluffy on the inside with a delicate fish flavour (£4 for three).
The jerk chicken drumsticks were a big hit with our youngest, who had not tried jerk seasoning before, and loved it. She described the chicken as “super-soft” and the sauce as “delicious”.
We all enjoyed the rice and peas, which for those new to Jamaican food, contains kidney beans rather than green garden peas. There was plenty on the menu for non-meat eaters, and the eldest enjoyed the ital brown stew with soya pieces, carrots and peas.
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Sonia is known for her baking, and I was glad to see homemade desserts on the menu. The mango and almond tart was excellent, with very thin pastry. Sonia suggested I eat it with crème fraiche, which worked well. She also makes a vegan sweet potato and polenta pudding flavoured with nutmeg, cinnamon, ginger and coconut milk, which sounds great too.
I love that Sonia has so many veggie and vegan options – this really is becoming the new normal in Herts.
You can order salads and slaw to go with. I noticed that Sonia is also doing patties, including meaty options, and you can order 12 for £30 which would make a lovely party or work meeting snack.
I asked Sonia about where the name Mama Cynth’s came from: “I wanted to express the great love and appreciation I have for my late mum and sister. Both my mother, was known as 'Mama Nelson' to all who knew her, and my sister Cynthia, or 'Cynth' as she liked to be called, were excellent cooks and they taught me how to make the dishes on my menu.
"We used to love spending time cooking, eating and chatting for hours on end – usually all at once!”
If you want drinks, Sonia can deliver sparkling fruit punch, still punch, sorrel with ginger (I wish I’d spotted that!), Guinness punch and fresh beetroot or carrot juice. As everything is made to order to avoid food waste, you need to contact Sonia at least a day in advance to place your order.
Food is delivered to you, chilled, ready for you to heat up. Delivery times are between 5pm and 7.30pm Thursday to Saturday. The website is very easy to use with clear descriptions of the menu. Head to www.mamacynths.co.uk for the full menu and prices. You can also message Sonia on 07508558967 with any queries.