Not sure if it was the way I was dressed/looked or the washed-down accent I used in placing my order, but the doubles vendor inside West Bees supermarket in Diego Martin (Trinidad) took time from her busy lunchtime line of customers to warn me "son be careful eh, this rheel hot". Pepper choka is one of the many SPICY condiments you'll find at most street vendors throughout the twin island Republic of Trinidad and Tobago. Scotch Bonnet (known locally as congo pepper) peppers, roasted and made into a chunky sort of salsa.
Pholouire is one of those popular vegetarian street foods you'll find being sold throughout Trinidad and Tobago, alongside "Doubles" and Aloo Pies. Usually served hot out of the fryer, with a side of spicy chutney (mango | Mango chutney, tamarind sauce, coconut or cucumber) and relatively cheap. This recipe is a sort of hack version (save you time), showing how you can use a pre-packaged mix with great results. If you're looking for a 'from scratch' recipe for making pholouire, click on Recipe Index at the top of this page.
Breakfast was usually a grab and go routine for me as a young fella on the islands during the week, as I went to school in the city and it meant leaving our sleepy village very early in the morning. I had to take a 2nd taxi (shared) when I got into San Fernando (2nd largest city in Trinidad) to make it in time for the first bell. So weekends was when mom would go all out with whatever we wanted for breakfast. Now this sort of breakfast was never included as I only developed a liking for many of the ingredients you'll see me use, during my travels across the Caribbean as an adult.
When some of your youngest fans get their mom to contact you "mom can you contact Chris to see if he can do a Caribbean taco recipe for us?" you know you have to jump into action. So the first thing I cranked out was the topping for said taco. During the summer months this also works as a great topping for grilled burgers and hot dogs. And when those cold wintry weekends kicks in and I want to brighten up my mood... I put a side of this with my eggs at breakfast! Versatile indeed!
As a young fella on the islands, I don't ever recall having lamb (had to call mom and she confirmed this). And to be quite honest, I didn't even start eating goat until my adult years in Canada after living with my aunt, who's a master at cooking it in a rich and spicy curry sauce. Today I'm not a huge fan of lamb, as I find the taste and texture turns me off a little (plus the price), but the odd time it is cooked in our home, this is my go-to recipe. Not necessarily "Caribbean", but you'll noticed a lot of flavor-adding ingredients being used as we would in the Caribbean.
I'm not a huge fan of turkey, especially when it's done the traditional North American way - roasted in the oven. I much prefer getting the cheaper cuts like the necks (Curry Turkey Necks) and in this case, wings. Though a bit tougher than chicken wings, I find that they hold up well to the Caribbean way of stewing and the outcome is quite delightful. Tender pieces of meat, with a wonderful gravy which is excellent on rice, potato, dumplings, roti or ground provisions. The key is in the way we'll season, marinate and finally braise these turkey wings in a process which is most traditional to the Southern Caribbean.
My passion for peppersauce (homemade hot sauces) is fueled by having been surrounded by very creative peppersauce makers even as a little boy on the islands, but more importantly... my daughters possess the same sort of intense affection for the fiery stuff as I do. There's no better motivation than having those close to you share the same traits, so when you get creative in the kitchen, you know it's something you will connect with as a family. With the use of the Trinidad Moruga Scorpions which at the time of making this sauce is the 2nd hottest pepper in the world, you're getting a hot sauce which should be used with extreme caution. But I find that by using the blueberries, you get a lovely fruity roundness.
Spinach dip is not something you reach for when you think traditional Caribbean snacks or fete (party) food, but you're now finding it served at many of the restaurants in the major tourist destinations and capital cities throughout the islands. It's no secret that we love cheese in the Caribbean and the same can be said for any type of "greens" like spinach, so it's only natural that this recipe would show up on this website sooner rather than later. I must confess that this 4 cheese spinach dip is a hybrid of my daughter Kieana's recipe, which I tweaked and kinda called my own?
Salsa is not a "Caribbean" type dish! Really? How easily we forget the Spanish speaking Caribbean, like Dominican Republic, Cuba and Puerto Rico. I started making this take on salsa for my girls after I read the label of the pre-packaged stuff they were buying at the grocery stores. Called salsa, but lacked any real flavor and loaded with sodium and preservatives. You'll notice that I've taken the technique we use in Trinidad and Tobago for making Tomato Choka and applied it in making this salsa.. for what I believe is the best salsa you'll ever have/enjoy! Ask my daughters and their friends.
Kuchela is one of those spicy condiments traditionally made with green mangoes and a must-have topping for 'doubles', saheena and pholourie (street food in Trinidad and Tobago). Being that I call Canada home and green mango is not something I can go in my back yard and pick off the trees as I did for my mom when I was a young fella on the islands, Granny Smith apples are my new choice. Though sweet, the slight tartness and sturdy texture of these green apples makes an ideal kuchela when you can't source mangoes.