All posts tagged: trinidad

Chargrilled Aubergine Pesto

“The flame-roasted aubergine imparts a deep, smoky flavour while the sun-dried tomato lifts the whole with its sweet, sharp zing. Excellent as it is on pasta, or as a dip with vegetal dippers, or as a base for a tomato and aubergine galette” – Dale Berning Sawa – Chargrilled Aubergine Pesto: Guardian Recipe Swap February 2016 Bajan Choka meets Basil Pesto. That’s the best way to describe the combination of these two classic dishes from Trinidad and Italy. Bajan Choka is a Trinidadian side dish . The intense flavour comes from being roasted on an open flame which rapidly cooks and flavours the flesh in its skin. The smokey soft pulp is then fried with onions, hot pepper and usually served with Paratha Roti. Most of us are familiar with basil pesto; I am especially from my years as a student. This was my go to jar to lift my pasta dishes out of the tuna mayo and sweetcorn era I found myself locked into. Nowadays I make my own from time to time, I love the fresh robust taste of the basil and raw …

The Classics: Brown Stew Chicken

  I grew up watching my Mum do all the cooking in our home. But when I was old enough to appreciate that my Mum had a job which sometimes involved working nights, I had to learn to appreciate my Daddy’s cooking. I say learn to appreciate, because there was only one dish my Daddy knew to do: brown stew chicken. I recall with almost near grief watching my mum hitch up her blue and white nurses uniform over her knee and perch herself gracefully on her brown and orange bike to ride through the quiet streets of Crawley, taking all the tasty food ideas with her to the nursing home where she worked. About 15 minutes into her journey I’m sure the smell of something burning must have reached her nose as far as she was from home. My Dad loved brown stew chicken and he made sure the chicken was just that – brown and indistinguishable from the molasses like gravy it sat in. It’s not that I disliked the bitter sweet taste, it was more that I was bored …

Soursop Punch

  There use to be a time in my life when I was conscious that I was beginning to sound like my Mum. Last week was definitely one of them. “No Soursop today?” I said in deep frustration to the man at the stall in Ridley Market. “No sorry darlin’ none today; nothing came off the ship from St Lucia or Jamaica…” In that split second my imagination took me to the shores of St Lucia, picturing Mr Market Stall man waiting at the beach front with his trolly waiting for this precious fruit to come in. I smiled at myself and walked away, a little disheartened. Last month there was no Soursop either, this time it was because it was being sold for the “price of Gold” his friend had told me. The way I hounded these guys, week after week watching, lingering, pretending to only pass by, hoping to see a pile of fresh prickly green skinned fruit smiling back at me…it was beyond an obsession, I was a evolving into my mother. Why I bothered to …

Bara and Channa (Doubles)

Yes Bara and Channa: the original street food of Trinidad. I soon learnt on my first trip to Trini, not to buy Bara and Channa from just anyone! My Dad and I still laugh about it to this day how we would drive 45 minutes away from my Uncle’s home, in the south, to buy fresh bara (bread) and channa (chick-pea) from a middle aged lady who made it straight from her isolated hut, passing many other vendors along the way. This lady’s bara was made right before our dry eyes and watering lips rather than fried beforehand and left to steam in a hot pan waiting for the first customer. The best bara is slightly crispy on the outside and fluffy in the middle with a mild curry flavour. This wouldn’t be a true hot sandwich without the condiments: the Anchar (pickled mango chutney), the tamarind sauces and the cool cucumber salad. If you follow this recipe correctly, you will also have the most lightest fluffiest bara you could ever want: easy to slice into a pocket or sandwich two bara’s together with a serving …

Trini ‘Tambran’ (Tamarind) Sauce’

I remember being about 6 or 7 at the time (for some reason I put a lot of childhood events between this age range) when I tasted my first Tamarind Ball. It was dark in colour and resembled a golf ball that had been rolled in sugar. My brother told me it was (pepper) ‘hot’, so as neither of us could bear hot pepper at the time I avoided them as best I could. But then a few weeks later, I thought I’d pluck the courage to go try one of these ‘sweets’ as my Dad called them. He had brought them back from a short trip he’d made to Trinidad to see my Grand – parents and extended family. I had watched on with envy as my Mum and Dad devoured them with child like pleasure all week and couldn’t understand the fascination with something that resembled liquorice but tasted like pepper. The moment the Tambran was in my mouth, I was met by an unusually sweet sticky texture which I chewed on for a couple of seconds, …

Guyana: Paratha Roti

Oil-roti, buss-up-shot, Dhal puri. Some of the names I have grown to associate with the iconic national dish of both Guyana and Trinidad. From the Street Vendor in San Fernando to the Blue Hut on Mount Irvine Beach in Tobago, Roti is enjoyed by everyone, everywhere. The hardest task I have found however was not in the consuming, but finding someone who could do it well (or as well as my Mother…as we would all say). And I’m sad to report that those places and people are very few and hard to find. Many make the mistake of preparing Roti much like chapatti or some other flat bread, which is fine to those who don’t know any better, but to those who can sniff a good Roti from a far off it won’t be enjoyed as well. The key to making a good Guyanese Paratha Roti is letting the dough rest adequately between each stage. The ratio of baking powder to flour is equally important. It’s also important that you use the right utensils. A Tawah (flat …

Trini Sunday: Chicken Pelau Rice

Sunday morning I would wake up to sounds and smells. First it would be the sound of my mum singing in the kitchen and then the smell of fried bakes roasting to eat with the Buljol she had just prepared. Dad could be heard like a giant stirring around in the living room in his dressing gown and slippers, thumbing through his precious vinyl collection: “Which would it be today: Mighty Sparrow or Mahalia Jackson?” His thoughts would soon be interrupted by the crescendo of pots and pans crashing to the kitchen floor: I would picture Mum in my mind’s eye as I lay on my warm bed: bending down low and reaching far back to grab her precious pot which was usually stacked very badly (by one of us) behind or on top of smaller weaker pots, hence the clash of metal befallen on our sleeping ears. Then I would wait for her to cry out my name to come fix the problem (“Raaaaaaa-neeeee…”) Traditions are so important, they help solidify memories and reaffirm identities. The …