In Memory Of Karen Nicole Smith, 1972 - 2016

Topi Tambo (petite tambo).

Now here’s an old-school ingredient I had not seen in over 25 years, nor had the pleasure to eat in just as long a time. Growing up in the countryside (Guaracara) in Trinidad and Tobago we called this petite tambo, but I do know others who called it tipi tambo and/or topi tambo as well.

You’ll Need...

2-3 lbs Topi Tambo
1 teaspoon sea salt (any salt)

Note! As I mentioned in the previous recipe post, the camera I use for taking stills to use on website posts isn’t functioning properly, so I’m unable to make the post images focused… so it’s easier to follow along. That said, this is as simple a recipe can come, but you can still follow along using the video below.

Place the topi tambo in a large bowl filled with water and give them a good wash/scrub. In the process, remove any stems and tiny little roots.

Topi Tambo are grown in the dirt, like yams, potato, peanuts etc, so a good washing is necessary. If memory serves me correct, the plants look similar to ginger as well as turmeric (same type of foliage).

After they’ve been washed thoroughly, place them in deep pot covered with water and bring to a boil. Toss in the sea salt (use any salt you have on hand) and stir well.

Then reduce to a rolling boil and cook for 30-45 minutes or until tender. It’s as if you’re cooking potatoes basically.

Once cooked, drain and cool. Then peel back the skin and enjoy. They will have the same sort of texture of water chestnuts, but with a more pronounced (clean) flavor. While I’ve never tried it, I think tossing in some salted pigtail or smoke meats (turkey etc), could enhance the flavor.

Drop me your comments below, tag me on Instagram and don’t forget you can now get my cookbook – The Vibrant Caribbean Pot, 100 Traditional And Fusion Recipes @

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  1. Daurn Rogers-King
    September 24, 2023 / 1:40 pm

    As you noted Topi Tambo is somewhat like water chestnuts.. I have used it (thinly sliced or julienne ) as a substitute for water chestnuts in Chinese style dishes such as “Chicken in Oyster Sauce” and “Fu Yung Kai Nip” or egg drop soup. Its just wonderful and crunchy.

    • admin
      September 26, 2023 / 8:36 am

      excellent idea

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