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.
One of the things my parents instilled in us from an early age, was to NEVER waste food, so growing up you'd always find containers (usually old margarine containers) with leftover food in the fridge. I love rice (brown parboiled) in just about any way it can be cooked, so having leftover rice in the fridge is like seeing the pieces of puzzle waiting to be put together. Said puzzle does not have an after picture to follow, so it's rare that my final fried rice is ever the same. This time I'm using some fresh Jamaican callaloo (called chorai bhagi or spinach in the rest of the Caribbean) from my garden.
I grew up with he mindset that tofu could NEVER taste appealing. My mom's cousins were vegetarians and I would always hear them speak about using tofu and soya chunks in different ways and though we were close.. I don't ever recall ever having tofu until my adult years. Caribbean culinary culture is not remotely centered around tofu as most Asian countries and quite understandably so. We don't produce tofu, so why would be be interested in it. If we were to speak about sea food, fish and ground provisions, then we could definitely shine!
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 my brother and I would always volunteer to go help dad in the garden whenever we knew cucumbers were in season. We had a stash of salt and a few cloves of garlic in the make-shift shed, where dad would take his breaks from the midday sun. With scotch bonnet pepper (congo as we'd say) and shado beni fresh from the garden.. we'd always make a huge bowl of this 'chow' with the 'baby' cucumbers (always the sweetest). Immediately after we'd hit the river to go fishing, followed by hours of swimming in the cool refreshing waters of the Guaracara river. Funny thing is dad never got our assistance, but he never peeped a word to mom!
Callaloo, the delicious soup-like dish of the Southern Caribbean is traditionally made with the inclusion of fresh ocean crabs for it's unique and rich flavor. If one cannot source that wonderful 'blue' crab, we then look for that layer of flavor from salted meats like pigtails and beef, and I've seen some people use smoked meats on some occasions. I must point out that the traditional recipe for making callalloo (not to be confused with Jamaican Callaloo) are the tender leaves of the dasheen or taro plant. However, sourcing those in Canada is almost impossible, so we'll be using baby spinach with brilliant results in this vegetarian version of Callaloo.
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.
TinTin (Christina), my dad's mom guarded her dried pigeon peas like they do gold at Ft Knox. It was common knowledge that if peas were out of season, she had some stored in airtight bottles somewhere in the dimly lit-smoky kitchen of hers. I still recall the scent of that kitchen, a mixture of the musty tobacco she always had drying in the ceiling and the smoke from the different types of hard-wood she would use to fire-up the coal pot she would use to to cook her meals. Not to mention the actual smoke from the pipe she smoked all her life! To this day, I'm still to taste a stewed dried pigeon peas like the stew this woman would make on that coal pot, in that simple kitchen.
Dasheen Bush is basically the leaves (usually the tender ones) of the Dasheen plant (Taro) which is used mainly in the Southern Caribbean for making Callaloo or as in this case, stewed down on it's own like you would spinach or any other 'greens'. With the aid of coconut milk and a few simple ingredients and what you'd think is a simple vegetarian dish, is something very tasty and in my case, quite addictive. It's was one of the few vegetarian type dishes mom never had a hard time serving us as kids. With Sada roti, flour dumplings or with split peas dhal and rice... iman was in heaven.
Though not necessarily a "Caribbean" thing when I was a young fella' on the islands, smoothies are making it's way across the island chain as more and more people are looking for healthy ways to start their day, especially with the abundance of fresh tropical fruits we have available to us. Back then, you'd quicker find freshly made juices and punches with the same fruits, so I must confess that I'm not a huge fan of smoothies (it just wasn't part of my diet). This mango raspberry smoothie only takes a couple minutes to make, quite refreshing and a wonderful meal in a glass.