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Mar 9, 2008 01:48 PM

Jamaican or Caribbean Yellow Spice? What is it called?

When I lived in San Francisco, I purchased a small yellow tin of a very, very, very bright yellow-orange powder (I wouldnt call it a spice, since I dont think it had much, if any, flavor) that I would add to rice to make it (almost neon) yellow.

Somehow along the way, I threw out the tin and now want some.

Does anyone know what this item is or where I can buy it?

I tried Google, but nothing seemed right. I do not think it was annatto, asofedita or tumeric, since it really was much brighter yellow.


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  1. I don't know. I would have guessed it was tuermic. Seems pretty neon yellow to me. It is used in Jamaica. And it's flavor is very subtle.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Miss Needle

      It maybe had tumeric as an ingredient for sure, but Im almost certain it wasnt just straight tumeric. To be honest, it may have been a blend of tumeric and food coloring for all I can remember...

    2. Could be achiote, gives an orange color and low level taste effect.

      1 Reply
      1. re: LRunkle

        If it's Caribbean, it probably was achiote (annatto in English), which is the coloring ingredient for the ubiquitous Yellow Rice that one finds throughout the region. But you're right, it isn't the color you described.

        That color fits the description of turmeric, which might have a place in Jamaican food given their love of curries. I'm not sure what you're seeing in pictures, but don't forget that computers represent colors differently. The bottle of turmeric I have in my cabinet is indeed a very bright yellow.

      2. Sounds like food coloring. Which wouldn't be used much by English and Spanish speakers in the islands but might have a following in T&T or Guyana. Unless you just like neon-yellow rice, you can just skip it. Or go to an Indian market where they have those small containers in both yellow and red (I've never seen other colors but they may exist.). Or use saffron which does lend flavor as well as color, albeit not so garishly neon.

        Whatever you do, DON'T try to sub asafoetida for it, I promise, you won't be happy! :(

        1. Turmeric comes in many strengths and can be an intense bright yellow orange color depending upon the curcumin levels. When it is fresh it has a nice peppery taste that disappears when it is old and stale.

          Then it's good for using as a dye or paint. I once painted my bedroom with spices. Turmeric on some walls and cinnamon on others in a sort of a wash effect, then sealed with a clear coat. Looked great.

            1. re: ldkelley

              I'd never heard of it, but a little googling suggests you hit the nail on the head. Perhaps not ironically, the main ingredients seem to be annatto, filler and food coloring. :) There's also an existing thread on CH about bijol if anyone's curious: