While I'm a HUGE fan of rice, I'm not overly fond of Basmati or any of the sort of scented rice which are widely available. However I find that when I make rice dishes with pumpkin, carrots or even coconut milk, using Basmati rice really enhances the dish overall. This vegetarian rice dish is very easy to put together and after the initial 'cooking' there's no "work" for you, so you can sit back with your favorite beverage while the rice cooker does all the work.
As a kid I never had much love for this dish, but as I grew older (and moved away from home / the Caribbean), Corn Cou Cou became a fave of mine. Since mom could never convince us to eat corn Cou Cou it was rarely ever made in our home, except for the odd time she would make it for dad.. usually served with stew fish. While the corn meal and okra are the 'constant' ingredients in Cou Cou, you'll find that the technique and supporting cast of ingredients will differ as you visit kitchens across the Caribbean.
I grew up on classic Caribbean ice creams which were homemade and usually flavored with many of the fruits that grew at the back of our home in Guaracara Trinidad. Coconut, mango, sour soup and barbadine (Giant Granadilla) were the flavors of the day. Unless it was the odd time mom would bring home Flavorite (brand) from the grocery store, where we'd get a taste of chocolate, vanilla, strawberry and the odd time .. rum and raisin. After having a superb pina colada in old San Juan (Puerto Rico) a few years ago, I knew I had to give this a spin in my ice cream maker.
This is one of those recipes I associate with my grandmother who would always have dried pigeon peas stored in re-purposed glass ketchup bottles, in a dark corner of her smoky kitchen (she cooked with an open wood fire - called a coal pot). While she would save hers for making stew peas and pelau, the odd time she would make this rice dish, it was a bit different than what I'm about to share. If you have a pressure cooker you can cook the peas in a much faster time, but I quite like this slow method.
If you're unfamiliar with "Caribbean" history you'd asking why is this fella from the islands trying to impress us with a Tabouleah recipe? Immigrants from the Middle East started to arrive in places like Trinidad and Tobago as early as 1904. So you'll find that like the strong Colonial, African, Indian and Chinese influence on our foods, that same sort of influence from Syria and Lebanon is present on our dinner tables.
With a variety of banana and plantain trees in our kitchen garden at the back of our home, we grew up with a natural affection for boiled and/or fried plantains. Sunday lunch was all about the sides of boiled plantains to give the entire meal a sort of rounded appeal, with the natural sweetness of the plantain. It's funny how I still crave plantains from time to time (would explain why I'm always experimenting with different recipes), but I've not had a ripe banana in about 20 years.
Doh try that! I can hear my Caribbean people screaming "that is not we kinda soup"! As we've discussed in the past, soups on the islands are tick, heavy and generally full of body (like what most non-Caribbean consider to be hearty stews). But let me assume you that this soup is quite filling and very comforting. You'll notice that the ingredients are what we use daily throughout the Caribbean and yuh know we love ah coconut milk! Tip: If you roast the vegetables on a grill or open fire, you'll get a lovely overall flavor.
A while back I did a more traditional recipe of this "fried" channa (chickpeas), except it was not fried but done in the oven for a more healthy twist. And I know many of you who are familiar with this crunchy snack will certainly find it strange that I'm topping it with grated Parmesan, but I assure you that the addition of the cheese compliments the overall flavor of it. During my primary school days this was sold by street vendors outside the school compound in paper cone shaped parcels and one of the 'choice' snacks for me at recess and lunch.
Here's another one of those spicy condiments I grew up enjoying with many of the street food sold outside the gates of my secondary school in San Fernando, Trinidad at recess and lunch time. Usually used a a dipping sauce for Pholourie and Saheena... and as a topping for doubles and aloo pies. But I think we most enjoyed it on it's own as a thick savory sauce when our taste buds craved something exciting (especially when we didn't have enough money for the pholourie). You'll find that I did stray a bit from the traditional type recipes, however you'll enjoy the subtle complex flavors.
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.