CHOKA! That heavenly, spicy vegan dish.. packed with roasted tomatoes, garlic and thinly sliced onions! If you’ve had it, you’d know what I mean. I guess this would be like a Caribbean version of Salsa? While ‘baigan’ (eggplant) choka is still the love of my heart, I’m a HUGE fan of tomato choka and since tomatoes are usually cheaper in the grocery, it’s made very often in my kitchen. Without a doubt, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a more delicious vegetarian dish.. just the simplicity of it!
8-10 ripe tomatoes
4 cloves garlic
1-3 scotch bonnet peppers
1 tablespoon sea salt (divided)
3 tablespoon olive oil (divided)
1 tablespoon finely chopped parsley
1/2 red onion (any onion will work)
Note : I used 3 green scotch bonnet peppers.. the green (less mature) will have a ton of flavor, but without the raw heat. That said, be smart and use the variety and amount of pepper you have/can tolerate. Remember to wash your hands with soap and water immediately after handling such hot peppers.
Remove the stems, wash and core (remove the tough area where the stems were with a pairing knife) off the tomatoes. Dry them with paper towels, then onto a lined baking tray, along with the peppers. Drizzle on 1 tablespoon of the olive oil and sprinkle on 1/2 the salt. Toss to coat everything.
Into a 525 F oven on the middle rack. After 5 minutes, remove the peppers and into the mortar. Allow to cool for 1-2 minutes, then remove the stems of the peppers, add the remaining salt along with the garlic.
Crush until you have a somewhat smooth paste.
After 25 minutes the tomatoes will be roasted and ready for use. You may remove the skins or keep them for that lovely smoky flavor. I kept the skins on 1/2 the tomatoes and tossed out the rest.
Add them individually into the mortar and crush. Please be mindful that they may “pop” when you first start crushing and hot juices may go flying at you. Crush until smooth, but with a bit of tiny chunks. Continue with the rest of them. If theres juices accumulated in the roasting tray, pour that into the mix too.
Give everything a good mix, then top with THINLY sliced onion. I used a red onion, but any onion you have on hand will work. Thinly sliced though.
Heat the remaining olive oil in a frying pan (until you see whispers of smoke), then pour directly onto the onions. This step is what we refer to as “Chunkay”. By pouring the hot oil over the onions, you’ll get a lovely flavor and it will slightly cook the onions and take away some of it’s pungency.
Top with the chopped parsley and stir well to combine everything. Hopefully you have some hot Sada Roti and a couple slices of ripe avocado to enjoy the perfect meal. Remember you can use this as a dip or salsa with your fav toasted bread or corn chips.