In Memory Of Karen Nicole Smith, 1972 - 2016

Saheena With Green Mango Chutney.

saheena recipe trinidadMy mouth waters just typing the title of this post. I fondly recall my childhood days on the islands around Divali (I was told it’s Diwali by and Indian programmer who works for me) time when we would go down the road to my mom’s cousins’ house for goodies on Divali night. I grew up in a Catholic home, but as the norm in Trinidad and Tobago we celebrate everyone religious festivals equally. How I wish the youths of today could experience that oneness and innocence I enjoyed those years ago. Back in those days all I looked forward to was the roti, curry channa with potato, pholourie and of course, saheena. I was never into the “sweets” , but my brother and sisters did do some damage when the sweets tray came around.

Here’s a simple recipe for making saheena, but not in the traditional size it’s usually made into. I refer to these as saheena balls and they work great as an appetizer or quick snack when you’re looking for something a bit different to munch on.

You’ll Need…

1/2 cup split peas powder (like flour)
3 cups all purpose flour
1 bunch spinach (see note below)
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon roasted geera powder (cumin)
1/4 teaspoon amchar massala (optional)
1/4 teaspoon turmeric (aka saffron on the islands)
1/4 teaspoon instant yeast
1 3/4 cups water
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 clove of garlic
2-3 cups vegetable oil for frying

For the mango chutney

1 green mango
4-6 leaves of shado beni
1 hot pepper (scotch bonnet or habanero)
2 cloves garlic
1/2 cup water
1 teaspoon salt

Note: I used baby spinach in this recipe, but traditionally dasheen leaves (young or soft ones) are used. It’s almost impossible to source those in my location.

Let’s get the dough ready as it needs about 2 hours to rest before we can starting frying.  Rinse the spinach leaves and roll into little bundles and slice very thinly. As thin as you can. Then I put about 3 cups of water to boil in the kettle and sort of blanch the spinach to somewhat pre-cook it. I put the thinly sliced spinach in a strainer and pour the boiling water over it and allow it to drain off.

making saheena

recipe for saheena

Then in a large bowl, place the flour, split peas powder, salt, turmeric, geera, amchar massala, flour, grate or crush fine – the garlic, baking powder, instant yeast and squeeze out as much liquid you can from the blanched spinach and add it to the bowl as well. Then add the water and mix into a smooth dough. After everything is fully incorporated, cover the bowl with plastic wrap and allow to rest on the kitchen counter for about 2 hours.

making trinidad saheena

mixing dough for saheena

recipe saheena trinidad

saheena mixture

After the 2 hours of resting, the yeast will activate and the dough will double in size. Now heat the oil in a deep pot or pan on medium/high heat. Traditionally your hands are used to scoop and drop the dough balls into the hot oil, but here’s a safer method. Using 2 table spoons, scoop out a spoon full of batter and then using the second spoon as a sort of scraper, scrape off the dough into the hot oil. If you find that the dough is going brown fast, turn down the heat a bit as you want it to cook for about 4-5 minutes, so the insides cook evenly as well. Be sure the pot or pan you’re using is not too wide, so the oil is nice and deep – will allow for even cooking and nicely shaped saheena balls.

After 4-5 minutes (I move them around while frying) I place them on paper towels to absorb any excess oil from the frying process. You may be tempted to eat a couple as they come out of the pot, but I would advise against doing so. They will be piping hot!

trini saheena

how to make saheena

how to fry saheena

saheena recipe

Here’s a very simple recipe for a quick mango chutney to use as a dipping sauce for these wonderful saheena balls (you’ll notice that it’s very similar to the original mango chutney recipe I posted a while back)…

In a food processor or blender place all the ingredients I mentioned above and puree into an even consistency. Make sure you get a green mango (one that’s not ripe) and then remove the skin, then remove slices of the flesh to use. Discard the seed.

Do taste for salt at the end and if you find that it’s still sour or tart, add a dash of sugar to the mix to help balance it off.

mango chutney

making trini mango chutney

trini mango chutney

This chutney can remain for a few days in a sealed container in the fridge, in the event you’re wondering. What are you all waiting for? Give this one a try, it’s very tasty and I’m sure your friends will be amazed at how appetizing these are at the next staff pot luck. Don’t forget to leave me your comments below – even if it’s just to say hello. It’s appreciated. And while you’re at it, why not join us on facebook? Click on the image below.

caribbean recipe on facebook

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  1. ree
    December 28, 2014 / 11:48 am

    Is how creole does want to copy Indian dishes and feel they cud put they own twist on it…anchar massala .. really?!

    • Margaret
      May 6, 2016 / 5:50 am

      Ree, food belongs to all a we. You havin a problem wid dat? Steups!

  2. Lyana
    December 15, 2014 / 9:28 am

    On a average,how much did this recipe yield? In need about 100of those balls. Should I double the recipe?

  3. Bertha
    November 9, 2014 / 8:15 am

    Chris, I love your recipes. I am from Central America and love spicy foods. Thanks again.

  4. Vida Rignault
    June 15, 2014 / 10:19 am

    Would this mango chutney recipe also work as a dipping sauce for Samosas? And is Saheena the same thing we used to call “Donkey Balls” or “Phlourie” when I was growling up in Trinidad?

  5. jasmin thomas
    June 2, 2014 / 2:43 pm

    Hi Chris, Great job!
    I live in south wales uk I’m desperately trying to source taro/colocasia leaves so if anyone can help please let me know. I learnt to make saheena from my grandmother in the 70’s. It’s the one you roll and steam then coat in batter and deep fry…yum. My husband and I both love this but haven’t had it since 1990.

  6. waheeda
    February 23, 2014 / 11:09 am

    Thank you for this recipe but I do not get mango her where I live so I use Granny Smith apples and lime juice for the chutney comes out great.

  7. Pooja
    September 26, 2013 / 7:17 am

    Hi Chris,

    We call these bhajiyas in Fiji. Your recipe is slightly different from ours as we do not use instant yeast. I will use yeast next time I make these. I love the beautiful round balls shown in the picture.

    Our Saheenas are made of colocasia leaves. we layer the leaves with urid flour paste, roll and steam them with option to fry the steamed product afterwards.

    Looking forward to more recipes.

  8. Nirmala
    August 5, 2013 / 9:41 pm

    Hi Chris I made this for the first time this weekend and it was a hit. Such a great recipe,simple and super tasty. My mom passed away December of last year and never had the chance to show me how to make Saheena so this was much appreciated. Thanks again and I always enjoy reading over your recipes.

  9. Lucille Coper
    September 23, 2012 / 9:10 am

    HI Chris
    Is that a Hamilton Beach blender I see on your kitchen counter? If yes! it looks just like mine which was purchased in 1986 and continues to perform in my kitchen. Kudos to Hamilton Beach for making lasting products and thanks a $million for the recipe. Here I am thinking, no more San Fernando Girls EC school friends, no more Saheena.
    Thanks again Chris I look forward to and open each and every e-mail from you.

  10. louanne de matas
    July 22, 2012 / 1:40 pm

    enjoy trying your recipes.

  11. Lee
    January 22, 2011 / 8:15 am

    Hi Chris
    I just love Saheena. Thanks for this recipe. Do you know how to make the rolled one using Dasheen bush? I'd love to have that recipe.
    This is a wonderful website. Thanks

  12. Geeta
    December 23, 2010 / 6:45 am

    I am making pollori with mango chutney. I am in london and will love to add shado beni, do you know where I can buy?

  13. chricynthia
    November 18, 2010 / 10:14 pm

    Man this recipe is making my mouth water. i can't wait to try it out. cooking is my first love. thanks a lot for these mouth watering recipes. keep them coming. lol

  14. Petra
    November 10, 2010 / 9:59 pm

    Wow! I can't believe it. I grew up in Trini and I used to love these things. One of my aunts was very much into Indian dishes, so she introduced this to me. I was recently somehow craving this, but for the life of me I could not remember what it was called. A few days back I was thinking of emailing her to find out the name but never got around to it. You can believe my surprise when I saw this recipe posted here. I am going to have to try this one for sure!! Thanks a lot. keep those recipes coming, I am enjoying them!

  15. Sueling Chang
    November 4, 2010 / 7:53 pm

    Thanks Chris. Where I live, I can't get dasheen leaves either and I use spinach as well.

  16. olivia charles
    November 4, 2010 / 5:25 pm

    I wrote down this recipe for the saheena, am going to try this, just like i try the recipe for the sada roti it came out so great my husband love it thanks chris

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