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.
Between spinach and beans it would be very difficult for me to decide which I adore more. The edge would probably go to beans simply because as a young fella on the islands I would help my parents grow different varieties in our kitchen garden. I hated pulling out the weeds, but I did enjoy harvesting them.. each bean picked off the bushes were like little prizes to my collection in the basket. Mom would normally make this dish for us whenever she would make stewed pork the evening before for dinner and had leftovers. If you'd like to make this dish vegetarian, simply leave out the stewed pork and for more flavor use coconut milk instead of the water mentioned in the ingredient list.
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.
At a recent dinner party I was challenged by friends to come up with a firecracker shrimp recipe, but with a Caribbean twist. Being that "challenge" is my second name.. I'm very competitive, a few days later I was in the kitchen loaded with ingredients to take that firecracker shrimp we enjoyed to a whole new level. They were good, but missing were a herbal note and true Caribbean sunshine (heat). Don't call something 'firecracker' when there's no actual heat but the sort of vinegar based hot sauce they market in North America. According to a pardna.."dem thing juss sour!.. no real heat".
When you grow up in the 'country' areas on the islands, you're sure to have a kitchen garden where most of the vegetables, herbs and peppers you use in in the kitchen, comes directly from. My brother and I were gardeners from a very young age (not by choice.. especially when we wanted to run football and not tend to plants). Looking back, it seems we always had some sort of beans planted in that small plot of land at the back of our home. Maybe this is where my love for beans of all types originated? In this recipe we'll use two of my favorite ingredients, string beans and shrimp along with that lovely curry base, this will definitely be delightful.
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.
This is as old school as a recipe could possibly get on CaribbeanPot.com. Not just the recipe but the tool and technique I'll be using. Before the days of electric blenders and food processors, we had food mills. Used to grind the dhal for making dhalpuri roti, preparing the dried fruits for making traditional black/rum cake, making homemade pepper sauces, grinding dried corn for making chilli bibbi and so many other uses in the kitchen. Luckily my mom brought a mill for me many years back and with the abundance of fiery hot peppers in my garden last summer, I thought I'd dust out the Mr. mill and share this recipe with you all. Hopefully I'll give you a glimpse into a glorious past.. something we seem to be losing touch with.
(Hamilton, Ontario Canada) CaribbeanPot.com, headed by Chris De La Rosa, is pleased to announce that their first off-line cookbook, The Vibrant Caribbean Pot: 100 Traditional and Fusion Recipes Vol.2, has won a Gourmand World Cookbook award for 2014 in the category of Best Foreign – International Cuisine Book in English Canada. De La Rosa shares this award with editor Izabela Szydlo. The Gourmand World Cookbook Awards, founded by, Edouard Cointreau, celebrates global cookbook and wine book publishing from over 144 countries. This award is sometimes referred to as the “Oscars of food awards”.
Immediately after posting the Island Style Chicken Strips Recipe, I started receiving requests for a fish version. A fish nugget recipe which will help encourage kids and picky eaters to give fish a try. When I hear people talk about hating fish and their only experience are those frozen fish sticks heated in an oven or microwave, I'm discouraged as I know that is not a good measuring-stick for fried fish. To achieve what I believe are the ultimate fish sticks or nuggets, we'll start off with a wonderful Caribbean herb marinade, then dip the seasoned pieces of fish in a modified tempura batter, before frying them until they are golden brown.
I've been fortunate to travel up and down the Caribbean island chain over the years and one of the things I find astonishing, are the many uses we have for plantains. Growing up in Trinidad and Tobago, Sunday lunch (most important family meal) always consisted of boiled ripe plantains to go along with the stewed meats, Callaloo, Macaroni Pie, Stewed Beans, Sweet Potato and other tasty treats mom would prepare. Very simple, but what a joy to eat. The English, Spanish, French and Dutch Caribbean all have their unique take on preparing Plantains (green and ripe) and I'm sure this orange brown sugar glazed plantain recipe will surely join in among other classics.