Guyanese: Pepperpot

If there was ever a dish which made me immensely proud of my Guyanese heritage, it would be this one. Pepperpot, the National dish of Guyana. Simply the bitter-sweetest, warmest, stickiest pot of stew you will ever taste. It has a taste like none other, and its all down to one main ingredient: Cassareep.

Cassareep was not as accessible in the 80’s when I was growing up as it is now; and even here, only certain West Indian shops sell it. I don’t know where we found the thick black molasses mixture when I was a child, but it was cherished like liquid black gold in our home: It would sit at the back of the cupboard, in a used Pepsi Bottle silently, waiting for the 25 December. I recall it being sealed with masking tape around its mouth and neck, as if smuggled out of the country, put on a boat destined for the Motherland…only to sit at the back of someone’s cupboard for 11 1/2 months of the year.

“Cass-a-reep” I was told by my mother as she would stir the pot of generous dark meat, was invented by the Native Amerindian’s of Guyana. They would extract the juice from bitter Cassava root which is in itself poisonous to eat if not cooked properly, and then boil, and boil and boil the juice down until eventually what remained was a thick black syrup. For more information on how Cassareep is made, follow this link.

“It always tastes better the next day…” she would add smiling.  Music to my ears. Because the Amerindian’s had no refrigeration,  Cassareep’s  natural preserving properties kept the dish going for days on end (that is why pepperpot can be left on the stove, re-heated daily for days and not spoil).

Pepperpot is traditionally eaten with thick, white home-made bread and made with several types of meat. For this recipe, I limited myself to Ox-tail, but feel free to combine it with Mutton if you wish.

If you would like this recipe – just drop me an e-mail: lovelorettaskitchen@gmail.com