One of the well known and best loved dishes in Trinidad and 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 it but most will add the mouth-watering scotch bonnet pepper, but the pepper is not allowed to pop. It’s included for the flavour not the heat. It’s tricky for me to find the yam leaves in London because Trinis use a different leaf to Jamaica (they also have a callaloo dish). You can have it as a soup or as a meal side. However, callaloo is not just a dish. It’s a metaphor that best describes how we are racially and/or culturally mixed. I couldn’t think of a better way to celebrate my son’s diverse heritage. So, I improvise ingredients were necessary. Here’s how I’ve made mine in the past and the recipe should serve 6-8 people.
- 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!
Here’s a video 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.