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.
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!