Our mom is an expert at making Caribbean style stewed red beans and I'm still to find someone who can match the way she balances flavor, tenderness and the perfect consistency to the gravy. A recipe which calls for soaking dried beans and slowly cooking then for a relatively long time. Time is something we never seem to have much of lately, so I've come up with a recipe which will cut the cooking time tremendously and give you the same sort of feel-good vibe as if you were eating traditional Caribbean stewed beans - stuff your mom or grandma would make for you.
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.
The key to making traditional baigan (eggplant) choka (dip) is roasting the eggplant over an open flame and if you really want to excite the taste buds with even more flavor, you would place the eggplant on hot coals. On so many levels this is not always possible, especially if you live in temperate climates where having that fire in the middle of winter is not possible. Yes, you can always use the flame on your stove top, but if you've ever had to clean up that stove after - you'd never do it again. This baigan choka recipe is specifically for people who want the same sort of flavors, but with an easier method of achieving this. Students, you can even do this is a toaster oven.
With the natural abundance of fruits we have in the Caribbean I'm surprised we didn't have a wider jam and jellies culture, when I was a kid on the islands. To be honest, the only jam mom would make was guava, sour cherry and Pommecythere (ambarella). However with all the artisan -like initiatives lately, we're seeing more and more creative use of our fruits. We've come to realize that we can still enjoy tropical fruits when it's out of season. If you're from the Caribbean you'll know exactly what I mean when I say we eat 'seasonally'... take sorrel for example. We only drink sorrel at Christmas time. Why? In this recipe we'll take two of the most common topical fruits and make what I believe is the perfect marriage of flavors and texture.
With the increase in demand for both vegetarian and gluten free recipes, I thought I'd take one of the most traditional dishes of the Southern Caribbean and remove a key ingredient - meat! Meat lovers can tune in here for the Chicken pelau video. This one pot dish was a must whenever we'd spend a day at the beach, go to the Oval to watch touring cricket teams and whenever pigeon peas was in season. Back then freshly shelled peas were used, but today living in North America I have no choice but to reach for the canned stuff. I assure you, you won't know there isn't meat in this dish when it's done 'bubblin' and you serve yourself a plate.
Most people who are new to Caribbean cuisine at one point or the other, always end up trying to make Jamaican style rice and peas (peas and rice?). Sadly if you're not seasoned at making rice and peas, it can be a bit challenging. You always risk ending up with rice which is overcooked and soggy. With this in mind, I decided to share a fool-proof way of cooking Jamaican rice and peas, with the same flavors and texture you'd get from the conventional method of cooking this dish. However we'll employ the use of a rice cooker!
I was recently challenged to put together a coconut rice recipe, however the recipe must be foolproof. According to the person who emailed me, they have a difficult time cooking rice as it usually ends up a messy mush in the pot or under-cooked. They were looking for perfectly cooked coconut rice, grainy in texture and rich in Caribbean coconut flavors. Being a rice dish I thought it would be a good time to also have it appeal to vegetarians and friends on a gluten free diet at the same time.
One of the fondest memories I have growing up on the islands was corn season. We always had a small patch of corn planted among the pigeon peas at the back of our home, so come harvest time, we'd indulge is some of the sweetest corn one could imagine.
Where did the taste, flavor and scent of tomatoes go? As a kid on the islands I remember helping mom and dad in the garden, which meant getting between the tomato bushes during harvest time to pick those lovely beauties off the tree (yes, I’ve had a love affair with tomatoes since as early as […]
I’ve noticed the past few months that there’s been an incredible amount of requests for more vegetarian and gluten free type recipes. As you may or may not know, a vast majority of the food we cook in the Caribbean are naturally gluten free and with the abundance of fresh vegetables, we’ve mastered vegetarian cooking […]