Andrew’s Essential Fiery Food Facts that a Pyro-Gourmaniac needs to Know
Fiery Cuisines Part 10 …… Trinidad..
This stands straight up there with Jamaican and Belizean cuisine as one of my as one of my all time favourite Cuisines, their use of hot chillies and tropical fruits really inspired my style of cooking. I cooked many Trinidadian style meals at my restaurant Shashemane at Cabarita. Growing up on Northern New South Wales, I was lucky enough to be spoilt with tropical fruits and ingredients. I hope you all enjoy my interpretations of these great Dishes.
Trinidad’s historic diet was based on what the islands naturally grew, but as small islands the diversity of foods was somewhat limited, although larger than one would think for an island nation of its size. Most of the island’s oldest foods actually arrived with the earliest settlers, these native and early imports included plantains, pineapples, sweet potatoes, Corn, cassava (yucca), mangoes, Pawpaw, bananas, coconuts, beans, and numerous other foods.
On the small islands that make up Trinidad the land life was limited and viable food options were sparse as few local animals truly provided food for the people. This differed greatly from the surrounding waters though as there is a huge number of seafood in the area, including flying fish, bonito, king fish, conch, lobster, and crab.
The first influence to the diet of Trinidad came with the first people to arrive who brought with them new foods and cultivated these foods. This led to the introduction of new ingredients as well as organized agriculture.
The first great change to the historic diet arrived with the Spanish. The Spanish brought new foods, animals, and spices to the island, giving the food an entirely new dynamic. The most important aspects the Spanish introduced were their spices, animals including cattle, fruits including breadfruit, oranges, and lemons, their vegetables, and rice.
The British continued to influence the diet after they took over the islands in about 1800. Like the Spanish, the British brought with them new spices, animals, fruits, and vegetables.
The British were more influential in other ways though as they expanded the slave trade and later people from the British Empire settled on the islands, including Indians. African slave owners on the island sought to feed the slaves as inexpensively as possible. Thus, their diets consisted mainly of beans, starches and the cheapest cuts of meats. Africans also brought with them the technique of ‘one-pot’ cooking, of vegetables, meats, beans and starches. This influence can be clearly seen in signature Creole dishes like pelau, callaloo, chicken and stew peas and of course, so many soups.. Maize, beans, and potatoes were also important foods for the people of the island from this point forward.
Later, Indians arrived on the island with their traditional spices and foods, which, once incorporated, altered the local cuisine even further. The most significant spice was curry. Like stews, any type of meat can be curried and is eaten mostly with roti in their many variations (paratha, dhalphourie, dosti). Some signature East Indian dishes include roti, doubles, aloo pies, chokas and pholourie.
After the Indian immigrants came the Chinese, a Trinidadian Chinese meal typically consists of a carbohydrate or a starch, and meat or fish and vegetables. The predominate cooking style is Cantonese, and spices such as ginger, garlic and spring onions are used in food preparation, as well as to preserve foods, and give the food a distinct flavour. The Chinese, because of losses experienced by farmers in China, developed food preservation to extend the shelf life of many foods. This is done by smoking, salting, pickling and drying.
In the past century or so, the food has continued to change in multiple ways. Indian foods and other ethnic foods have gained a larger market, while these outside influences have also altered the more traditional foods. Today it is common to see a traditional fish or dish as a whole covered in an Indian curry sauce. The influence though isn’t just limited to Indian influence as today a large number of ethnic restaurants can be found on Trinidad including American, French, Italian, and Chinese foods.
Green seasoning is a classic Trinidadian blend. It’s added to a range of dishes, from meat and fresh seafood, to rich stews and spicy curries. Green seasoning is a vivid green paste with ingredients that vary slightly depending on the chef, and on what’s available in the market that day. The green comes from the mix of fresh herbs, such as parsley and thyme and a local herb called chadon beni. Though hard to find outside of the Caribbean., chadon beni tastes a little like Coriander. Onion and garlic are always added for extra flavour.
Curry, Trinidad-Style, Curry powder is an essential seasoning in Trinidadian cuisine. In Trinidad, cooks often leave out Chilli flakes or ground Chilli, preferring instead to sprinkle fresh Chilli on food to taste. This means the Curry powder is more aromatic than fiery, with Cardamon, Coriander, Cumin, Mustard, Fenugreek, Turmeric, Black Pepper and a handful of Curry leaves all added together before being ground into a powder. Every chef has his own variation on the basic spice blend.
Though Trinidadian chutneys and relishes are often used as accompaniments to a main meal, they are also used as a form of seasoning. For example, the popular Trinidadian food roti is often served with sauces such as Eggplant relish that enhance the flavour. Kuchela, a relish made from grated green Mango, Garlic, Pepper and Chillies, offers another spicy way to enjoy meat roti.
Because a variety of Chillies that grow in Trinidad, from Habaneros to Scotch Bonnets, Trinidad Moruga scorpions, islanders tend not to use chilli powder directly as seasoning. However, expect to find little bowls of finely diced fresh chilli on meal tables across the country. A sprinkle of Habanero makes any food fiery enough for even the biggest fans of fiery foods. Chilli choka is one of the many SPICY condiments you’ll find at most street vendors throughout the twin island Republic of Trinidad and Tobago. Scotch Bonnets (known locally as Congo pepper), fire-roasted and made into a chunky sort of salsa.
Traditional Caribbean Chilli sauce
800 gm Scotch Bonnets Chopped
6 cloves garlic
1/2 cup Coriander chopped
1 tsp sea salt
1 cup white Vinegar
Wash the Chillies and trim off the stems and roughly chop. For a fiery Chilli sauce leave in the seeds, if not do remove them if you wish to tame things down.
Give the Coriander (traditionally in the Caribbean you’d use Chadon beni) and Garlic a rough chop
In a food processor, start adding a mixture of the Garlic, Chillies and chopped Coriander.
To finish up all you have to do is mix in the Vinegar, Salt and Lime (or Lemon) juice and mix well with the ground Chillies.
Tamarind BBQ Sauce.
1/4 cup Brown sugar
1/4 cup Cider Vinegar
150 gm Onion diced
2 cups Tomato Sauce
1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
2 tbls Molasses
2 tbls Yellow mustard
1 Scotch Bonnet
1/2 tsp Black Pepper
1/2 tsp gnd Allspice
1 tbls Olive Oil
1/2 tsp Salt
1 tbls Ginger grated
3/4 cup Tamarind pulp
Dice the Onion and Chilli small.
Put the Tamarind paste into a bowl and top it with boiling water, about a cup. The hot water will allow you to break the Tamarind down into a concentrated liquid form.
Put a pan on medium heat, pour in the Olive oil, then put in the diced onion. Turn your heat down to low and let this slowly cook for 5 minutes , stir occasionally. Until it’s translucent and releases natural sugars.
After 5 mins ,add the Black Pepper and Allspice. Cook that for a minute or two, then start adding everything else into the pot except the Tamarind. Raise your heat to medium to bring to boil
Using a fork break up the Tamarind pulp, then get in with your fingers and massage it. This action will release the pulp and the water will become a sort of Tamarind concentrate. Discard as much solid (seeds and fibres) as you can. Now strain the liquid into the pot and give it a good stir.
Turn the heat back up so you get this back to boiling, then simmer. After 30 minutes it will be finished, cook for 45 minutes to really thicken it up. The sauce will also thicken up quite a bit as it cools.
This sauce is not only great for grilling, it makes a wicked dipping sauce for chicken and is a great topping for burgers. Store in glass containers in the fridge and it will remain good for at least a couple months
Trinidad Green Seasoning
1 bunch Coriander
1 stalk of Celery (include leaves)
11 cloves Garlic
1 bunch Thyme
1/4 cup of water
2 gm Salt
50 gm Spanish Onion
2 pimento Chillies or 1 banana Chilli.
Peel, trim and wash the ingredients and let drain.
Then rough-cut into smaller pieces so it’s easier to manage and work in the blender or food processor.
Add all the ingredients into your food processor or as in my case, a blender (I’m sure my wife is mad at me for showing you our prehistoric blender)… including the water. You may be required to move around or push down the ingredients occasionally so it all gets worked by the blades.
Spicy Trinidad Moruga Scorpion Peanuts.
1 1/2 tbls Olive oil
8 gm Garlic (diced fine)
1 Trinidad Moruga Scorpion (diced)
1 1/2 cups unsalted roasted Peanuts
2-3 tbls Coriander (chopped)
3/4 tsp Sea Salt
Heat the Olive oil on a low in in a saucepan, add the Garlic, Coriander and diced Scorpion Chilli. Cook for 3-5 minutes.
Make sure the heat is low so you don’t burn the garlic.. Add the peanuts and toss well.
Cook/toss for about 3-5 minutes, then remove off the heat and sprinkle the salt. Allow to cool then place in an air tight container.. it will last for up to 2 weeks. Serve warm if want a real Scorpion kick!
4 Scotch Bonnets
2 Chocolate Seven Pot
2 Bhut Jolokia
5 Garlic cloves
1/4 tsp Sea salt
3 tbls Olive oil
60 gm Spanish onion
1 tbls Parsley (chopped)
8-10 Cherry tomatoes
1 Lemon juiced
Flame roast these for maximum flavour, but you can also roast them off in your oven. If you do use the oven, be sure to open the windows. Place the Garlic cloves in a piece of tin foil and drizzle with olive oil. Direct roast the Chillies (I used my BBQ) and place the garlic cloves away from direct heat. Flip the Chillies so they roast evenly on all sides. Takes between 4-6 minutes.
Lightly roast the Cherry Tomatoes
In a Mortar and pestle place Salt and Garlic and crush till smooth. Add the Chillies, stems removed and crush.. don’t make it too smooth as you want some texture.
Then top with the Roughly chopped Cherry Tomatoes, Parsley and thinly slice Onion. Add the Lemon Juice.
Heat the 3 tbls of Olive oil till it starts to smoke, then pour it over everything and mix well. The Trinidadians call this chunkay!
Store in a container in the fridge for up to 2 weeks. Warm for 20 seconds in a Microwave to increase the flavour before using.
Cauliflower With Chickpeas Curry Recipe.
750 gm Cauliflower
1 can Chick peas, drained
1 ½ tbls Curry powder
3 Garlic cloves, chopped
100 gm Onion, chopped
1/4 tsp Salt
1 tbls Rice Bran Oil
1/2 tsp Trinidad Green Seasoning (see my recipe above)
1/4 tsp Black Pepper
1/2 tsp Garam Massala
½ Scotch Bonnet,chopped
1/2 cup water
1 tbls chopped Coriander
1 Tomato (seeded and diced)
Drain and rinse the Chickpeas.
Heat the oil on a medium heat, Add the diced Onion and Garlic. Reduce the heat to low and cook for 3-4 minutes.
With the heat still on low, add the Curry powder and Garam Masala and toast for 3-4 minutes.
Cut the Cauliflower into 1 ½ pieces
Turn the heat up to med high, Add the Cauliflower and mix well, Add the Chickpeas, Salt, Scotch Bonnet, Trinidad Green Seasoning and Black Pepper. Add the water and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook through with a lid on.
Check for salt and adjust. Cook for 12 minutes, removing the lid off the pot the last 4 minutes so any liquid would evaporate. After turning off the heat add the diced Tomato and Coriander.. cover the pot and let the residual heat do it’s thing with the Tomato and Coriander.
Andrew’s Trini Style Pawpaw Salad.
1 ripe Pawpaw (1 ½ kg)
2 tbls Coriander
2 Limes juiced
1/4 tsp Cinnamon
1/4 tsp Ginger grated
2 gm salt
1 tbls Olive oil
2 Red Habs
80 gm Spanish Onion
Cut, seed and peel the Pawpaw.Trim off the stem area, then cut in half length-wise. Then use a spoon to scrape off all the seeds and discard. Now cut into wedges and peel. Give it a rinse with cool water and cut into 2 cm Cubes
Put the pieces of Pawpaw in a bowl and chop the Habs, Spanish Onion and coriander
In the bowl with the Pawpaw, add the chopped Hab, Coriander and onion, squeeze in the fresh lime juice as well as the other ingredients… as well. Carefully toss and serve. Works great if you can leave it in the fridge for 10-15 minutes to marinate a bit and chill.
Fiery Scotch Bonnet Honey Grilled Shrimp.
500 gm Medium King Prawns, peeled and deveined
2 tbls Honey
2 tbls Olive oil
2 Scotch Bonnets
1 tsp Garlic chopped
1 Eshallot chopped
Marinate the Prawns. In a strong zipper bag, place the cleaned Prawns and all the other ingredients. Give it a good toss and store it in the fridge for one hour.
As the prawns marinate, soak the bamboo skewers in water to help prevent them from burning while on the BBQ.
After one hour, thread the Prawns on the skewers
Lightly grease your BBQ grill surface to prevent sticking , then place the skewers on on one side for 3-4 minutes on medium heat. Turn over and cook for a further 2 minutes
Shut the lid on the BBQ during the grilling process
Squeeze on some fresh lemon juice and enjoy!
Tamarind Grilled Chicken.
2 Chickens (cut in halves)
1 ½ tbls Trinidad Green Seasoning (see my recipe above)
1/2 tsp Salt
3/4 cup Tamarind BBQ Sauce (see my recipe above)
1 Lime juiced
Cut your Chickens in half remove the wing tips, pour the Lime juice over the Chicken , rub and wash with cool water.
Now pour in the salt and Trinidad Green Seasoning ,mix so every piece of the Chicken comes in contact with the seasoning.Cover and place in the fridge to marinate for at least 2hrs to really infuse the chicken with the flavours of the green seasoning.
Let Chicken come back to room temperature.
Have your BBQ cranked up high for 20 minutes. Place Chicken on rack for 20 mins on BBQ.
After 20 minutes on my upper rack ,place Chicken on BBQ. Cook for 30 minutes, flipping every 10 minutes, watch for flare-ups
Trini Steak Marinade and Dressing.
1/4 cup Olive oil
1 Lemon (juice)
1 Orange (juice)
1 cup Cherry Tomato chopped
2 tbls Coriander
2 tbls Parsley chopped
1 tbls Thyme
1/2 tsp gnd Black Pepper
pinch Sea salt
1/2 Scotch Bonnet, diced .
This a very simple recipe to put together and will take less than 5 minutes. Place everything in a bowl and add the Olive oil, Salt, Black Pepper and the juice of the Lemon and Orange.
Give the marinade a good whisk.
Pat your steaks dry with paper towels, then pour 1/2 of the marinade on them and rub the steaks to evenly coat them. Place the remaining marinade, which will become the dressing, in the fridge
Allow the steaks to marinate for about 1 hr in the fridge and about 15 mins outside of the fridge to re reach room temp.
Grill on a BBQ for 3-4 minutes on one side, turn, then the same on the other.
Allow the grilled steak to rest for 2 minutes before slicing through. Drizzle on some of the dressing we reserved.