One of the well known and best loved dishes in Trinidad & Tobago is callaloo. It’s normally takes pride of place as part of a Sunday meal. Some families include crab others include salted pigs’ tails. Every family has their own way of doing. However, it’s common to include a mouth-watering scotch bonnet pepper. IMPORTANT WARNING: don’t allow the pepper burst when cooking the dish. The pepper is included for flavour not heat. It’s tricky for me to find the yam (taro) leaves in London. Trinis use a different leaf to Jamaicans (they also have a callaloo dish made with amaranth or Xanthosoma). You can have Callaloo as a soup or as a meal side. Here’s how I’ve made my Trini Callaloo in the past.
Health Benefits Taro (Dasheen) Leaves
In Trinidad, Taro leaves are used to make our Callaloo. Taro leaves (or dasheen bush to Trinis) are low in calories and are the leaves from the taro root veg. These leaves are high in potassium, folate, and vitamins C and A. Health benefit claims included; it can boost heart health, helps to prevent diseases such as cancer and autoimmune disorders.
NB raw leaves are said to be poisonous. More reason to enjoy a nice lil soup with it, eh?
In Trinidad & Tobago callaloo is more that a dish. It’s a metaphor that best describes how Trinbagonians are racially and/or culturally mixed. This dish was a wonderful way to celebrate my son’s diverse heritage. Where necessary, I improvised with the ingredients:
- 6 Callaloo Leaves (also known as dasheen bush Trinidad or Patra in Asian shops in London)
- 1 small pack of pig tail
- 10 Ochroes
- 4 stalks flat leaf parsley
- 4 sprigs thyme
- ½ medium onion
- 2 stems of spring onion
- 1 tin coconut milk
- 1 ½ cups hot water
- 1 lb pumpkin
- Strip stalk and midrib from the callaloo leaves, wash and chop into pieces.
- Chop ochroes flat leave parsley into small piece and pig tails into bite size pieces.
- Dice pumpkin and onions.
- De-leaf stalks thyme (I used leaves only).
- Add ingredients into pot with coconut milk and with water and coconut milk bring to a boil, and then simmer for 30 minutes until everything is soft and cooked. Blitz with a hand blender (or regular blender) stir then it’s ready to serve!
I want to share a video with you that shows the creativity and ingenuity of one of my country’s most celebrated mas men, Peter Minshall. In 1984 the theme of his mass was Callaloo which was continuation of his River Trilogy band.
Have you ever tasted callaloo? Did you make it? What is you must have ingredient to make it extra special.
(Updated 19th May 2020)