Categorized |Vegetarian

Wholesome Chorai Bhaji Recipe.

cooked callalooWe had just moved to Canada and I was living with my aunt. Back then there were a handful of Caribbean people in Hamilton and the few of us that went to the same high school did just about everything together. My group included a fella from Dominica, Barbados and one from Jamaica. To this day we’re still very close and still pretty much a tight unit. Richard, my friend from Jamaica called me to ask if my aunt wanted some Callaloo… kinda strange that he would ask me if my aunt wanted some and not me. I answered yes, since I knew whatever comes home is open game. It had been months since I had last eaten callaloo (back then finding Caribbean food stuff in the supermarkets was very tough) so I was licking my chops at the thought of eating some callaloo (I wonder if he would bring some rice and stew chicken with it?). Another strange thing he said was .. he was up on the farm.

Mr man showed up about 2 hrs later with a huge bag of callaloo… not the rich and creamy,  soup like dish we make in Trinidad and Tobago with crabs and coconut milk (see Callaloo), but the bhaji we call chorai. I learned that day that our Jamaican brothers and sisters refer to what we call Chorai.. as being callaloo. BTW, that was the most healthy leaves of callaloo chorai I had ever seen. Seems the migrant workers who come up to work on the farms here in Canada plant this “callaloo” to sell on the side to make extra money and to give to friends as well. The leaves were so huge, at first I thought it was tobacco. At least my aunt was happy, as she had something to cook that night that reminded us of home.

As I’ve mentioned in the past I LOVE any and all bhaji (pak choi, baby spinach, swiss chard and dasheen bush) so this recipe is very special to me. If you really want to add extra flavours to this dish you can add either coconut cream and/or pieces of salted cod to it. Leave me a comment below if you’d like info on adding those two things. My dad also like his bhaji with salted pig tails or salted beef pieces served with flour dumplings.

You’ll Need…

1 bunch of Chorai bhaji (about 2 lbs)
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 cloves garlic
1 medium onion sliced
1/4 hot pepper (whatever you like using.. I used habanero) * remember to avoid using the seeds if you want to avoid most of the heat.
1/4 teaspoon salt

Weather you buy it at the grocery or grow it in your garden , you MUST wash the chorai a few times, as sand and dirt gets all over it during the growing process. I usually fill the sink with cool water and soak it for a few minutes. Then I gently shake the leaves and remove them from the water. This allows most of the dirt to remain in the sink. I then rinse the leaves again under running water just to be sure that I get rid of any dirt. If the stems are hardy, you’ll have to remove those , as it will be bitter and will not be tender when cooked. The stems in the batch I had were very tender, so used everything.

I cut each stem/leaves into 2 inch pieces (roll the leaves and cut – see pic below), then I rinse under cool water one more time and allow to drain in a strainer.

trinidad bhaji recipe

how to cook bhaji

caribbean vegetarian recipe

trini bhaji

After you’ve cut, washed and allow to dry off, it’s time to cook. In a deep pot heat the oil on medium heat. Now add 1/4 of the onion to the heated oil and cook until soft and starts going brown on the edges. The next step is to add the cut chorai to the pot and gently stir around. It will seem as if the pot is not large enough, but as it cooks it will wilt. After you’ve added all the chorai, add the rest of the sliced onion, salt, pepper and garlic (add whole as it will melt down while cooking).

Allow this to cook (covered) on medium/low heat (it will spring up a lot of it’s own juices) for about 20-25 minutes. If you find that there’s still liquid after this time, turn up the heat and burn it off. It will become a bit mushy and will go a darker green, but that’s normal.

trini bhaji recipe

cooking chorai bhaji

jamaican callaloo

jamaican callaloo recipe

cooking callaloo

cooked callaloo

This is excellent when paired with roti, fry bake or rice and dhal… makes a deadly sandwich as well and if all fails, get a pita bread. Don’t forget to leave me your comments below and PLEASE don’t forget to be part of the LARGEST Face Book fan page dedicated to foods of the Caribbean. BTW, my North American friends.. this dish is similar to spinach and can be used just the same (except you’ll find that the texture is a bit different)

caribbean pot on facebook

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11 Responses to “Wholesome Chorai Bhaji Recipe.”

  1. John Martin says:

    I am finding this quite confusing, some one please enlighten me. Is callaloo the name of a dish made from green leaves such as spinach, pac choi,or dasheen leaves. I always thought it was the name of the dasheen leaves. In the UK we buy canned Jamaican
    callaloo which is chopped and in salted water. I grow a type of spinach in the garden which grows all year I pick the big dark green leaves for cooking and the smaller lighter ones for salads

  2. karisha says:

    Hi Chris: In Canada the Chorai is called Pig's weed. Whenever I get fresh top soil, seeds come along with the soil. The seeds are very tiny, therefore, it goes right through the sieve. I always allow a few to seed, leave it in my vegetable garden patch and it returns the next year(even if you till the soil); since It is a perennial. It grows wild on the farms.

  3. Tee jay says:

    the international name for it is pigweed and yes it belongs to the amaranthius family….. what we call chori here in trinidad is the spiny amaranthus, there is also the big leaf chori whick is slightly more buttery and of a lighter green when cooked. there is only 2 types of bajhi in trini chori and dasheen bush bajhi. dasheen bush bajhi is not calaloo which contains coconut milk pumpkin etc… the others are called by their name shuch as pachoi, mustard etc..

    what Roz is talking about is bajhi rice and an ochro rice combination,,, usually made where there is not enough of either… pumpkin is added too if you have…poor pplz food nah..lol

    love to u're version of greenfig and saltfish pie…..

    Bless ah gone

  4. My bunch of fussy eaters loved this recipe

  5. Roz says:

    I think in Antigua we just call it wild spinach. I cooked it the other day with okra and some pig tail with rice.
    Growing it in my garden this year and it have been bountiful. I found the plant at the flower shop in CT and the lady said it was Jamaican Callaloo, some I would asked until they get it.

    • jumbieg says:

      Roz, like you I was able to find it in a garden center as well. With okra and pigtail is my dad's way of making this..ad some coconut milk as well.

  6. rebekah says:

    LOVE THIS DISH! WHERE CAN I FIND SEEDS TO PLANT? ALSO DO YOU KNOW THE FORMAL NAME FOR THIS PLANT?? I LIVE IN CALIFORNIA! THANKS!

    • jumbieg says:

      I know it belongs to the Amaranthus family of plants, but I don't know the formal name or where to buy the plants. This past spring I saw it in a local garden center – called Jamaican callaloo. I have a few plants in my garden, if you wish I can have one go to seed and collect it for you. let me know and I'll get on it. It's very easy to grow and I know it's also called pig weed here in North America. In the facebook fan page we have a discussion on it http://www.facebook.com/pages/Caribbean-Pot/16086… I believe it's on the 2nd page of discussions. Keyword search "callaloo" and you'll find it fast.

      • Rebekah says:

        Hi, thank you! This has been helpful. I think I will go to the garden center and look for "Jamaican Callaloo" It should grow in this weather providing I water regularly. I am dying for some home food right now! LOL. Anyhow, thanks for the helpful reply! Have a great day :-)

      • Elizabeth Michelin says:

        I would love some seed please. I am Vincentian with a Jamaican friend. I miss out regular callaloo which I get from Nicey's in TO whenever I vist and freeze.

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