Our dad grew up on the family cocoa and coffee plantation with my great grandparents, so basically his meals consisted of what we refer to “blue” food. Ground provisions (yams, dasheen, eddoes, cassava etc), green bananas, dumplings and other very traditional dishes passed on from slavery days. So when we were growing up many of these dishes were a strong part of our diet as well, since mom would make stuff the old fella enjoyed. To this day my sisters have no love for many of these foods, but my brother and I crave them. Especially since we’re not at “home” where it’s in abundance… such is the life of immigrants I guess.
Today’s recipe takes me back to when my uncle and I would make our own little “cook” with ingredients we could easily salvage around the house or garden. Cassava dumplings and dasheen bush simmered in coconut milk and a rosy green scotch bonnet pepper… if we were lucky we’d also have a few ochroes to go into the bhaji mix.
1 cup grated cassava
1 cup all purpose flour
1 tablespoon salt
6-10 tablespoon water
pinch baking powder
* if you can’t get fresh cassava to grate, you can also try using cassava flour. Many Latin markets will stock it (may be called yucca flour)
Peel the cassava with a potato peeler or sharp pairing knife to remove the bark-like outer skin, then using a box grater (be careful) as it’s very easy to catch your fingers as the cassava pieces gets smaller as you grate. I’m sure this could probably work in a food processor, but I’ve never tried it.
In the same bowl with the grated cassava add the flour and baking powder. Knead into a firm but elastic dough… since the grated cassava will have a bit of moisture, work the flour into it before adding water. This will see it go like ‘peas”, but it will give you an idea of how much water you’ll need to add. Then start adding water one tablespoon at a time. Since I cannot comment on how moist your cassava will be, I recommend adding 1 tablespoon of water at a time. It may take a bit of muscle to really work the dough, but try to get a nice smooth finish.
Now cover the bowl with a bit of plastic wrap and allow it to rest for about 20-25 minutes. The next step is to bring about 7 cups of water to boil in a fairly large pot and add 1 tablespoon of salt to the water.
As the water comes to a boil…
Dust a flat surface with flour and lets get ready to make the dumplings. Cut the dough ball into 8 smaller ones, then give each a sort of cigar roll and then work with your fingers to form the shape of a tongue. BTW, these dumplings are sometimes called cow’s tongue (due to it’s shape). See the pics below for a pictorial explanation.
The water should be boiling now so gently add each dumpling and give it a stir. This will cook on medium heat (make sure it’s boiling) for about 5 minutes or so. You’ll know when they’re done, when you see them float to the to[ of the pot.
The final step is to drain and get ready to serve (best hot). Today I enjoyed mine with saltfish buljol, but if you’re looking for something even more basic.. simply stir in some butter and enjoy. This goes great with many curry meats, stewed meats and if you were to go to Tobago you must have it with curried crabs. I had three of them and was stuffed.. so this could easily serve 4 small eaters. You’ll notice that I added some red cabbage to my saltfish buljol.. had some in the fridge and figured I’d use it. Added a nice crunch to the overall dish.