Six Must Try Foods When in Trinidad & Tobago

I jthe past few weeks in Trinidad and Tobago and thought I would share some of its’ diverse cuisine with you all.

The majority of the dishes do not typically have meat but are widely eaten despite their ‘vegetarian’ status around the country because they are just that delicious.

 

1. Doubles

 

Traditionally eaten for breakfast, doubles is the must have street food from Trinidad and Tobago.   Sold from a food cart at the side of the road, these babies are supposed to be eaten with your hands but it can get messy, especially if it’s your first time.

It’s an open face sandwich of two golden fried breads (called bara) topped with curried chickpeas (called channa) The vendor prepares it right in front of you.  Bear in mind that these chickpeas are curried Trinidadian-style, similar to East Indian cuisine.

It is typically dressed with a tamarind sauce, seasoned cucumbers, a culantro sauce (locally known as chandon beni –  comparable to a very pungent coriander), mango chutney or the classic spicy hot sauce made from scotch bonnet pepper – or all, this myriad of flavours will leave you with wanting more.  Be warned, if you do ask for some fiery pepper, be sure to say how much you want: slight, medium, heavy!

If you’ve ever been to Turtle Bay in the UK, try the dish inspired by the iconic doubles, which goes by the same name.

 

Doubles
Photo Credit: Matthew Benson

 

 

2. Calalloo

 

This isarguably the must have dish at a traditional Trinidadian Sunday lunch.  Made from leafy dasheen (taro) leaves – similar to baby spinach – , okros, pimento peppers,  onions, green onions thyme, minced garlic, all simmered in a creamy coconut milk – giving callalloo the consistency of a soup.  Sometimes pumpkins and carrots are included, adding a slight sweetness to this hot savoury dish.  Otherwise, it can be served with some fried plantains (similar to bananas) sprinkled with some brown sugar.

Usually, a scotch bonnet pepper is placed inside of it while it simmers to let out a hint of  that fiery hot taste.

It can sometimes be cooked with salted meat, pig tails or crab.  Typically used as a side to top rice or anything that you may fancy, this nutrient dense dish can also be eaten as a soup.  When making callalloo abroad, baby spinach leaves are usually substitute the dasheen leaves.

For those who are familiar with Jamaican callaloo, this is quite different in texture and had

Check out Caribbean Pot’s recipe here.

 

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Okros are also known as okras, lunges fingers or bhindi depending on which part of the world you’re from

 

Callalloo
Photo Credit: Caribbean Pot

 

 

3. Okro and Rice

 

This delicious rice dish is a one pot meal.  It is rice, onions, carrots, pumpkin, okros cooked and simmered in coconut milk – yes we love our coconut milk!  Garlic and scallions are added to this hearty dish, along with some herbs added like thyme, parsley and rosemary.  A handful of diced pimentos are also added for extra flavour, as they are similar to sweet peppers.

Again, a scotch bonnet pepper is typically added to give it a kick.

Those who eat meat, add saltfish or pigtail to add a salty flavour. It also tastes delicious with a slice of creamy avocado on the side.

 

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Preparing the dish

 

 

4. Chows

 

Fruits are aplenty on the island, so much so that they’ve had to find different ways to eat them and not let them go to waste.

Pineapples, mangoes, plums and other local fruits are chopped up and seasoned in  black pepper, salt, lime,  garlic, onions, chadon beni (culantro) and of course, some spicy hot pepper.  Left to soak for hours, this seasoning gives it a savoury tangy taste, similar to a seafood ceviche, paired with the sweetness of the selected fruit and it is a delight to your taste buds.

Look out for vendors on the way to Maracas at the lookout.

Unfortunately, these are usually in plastic bags, but I happened to have a cup with me in the car and asked them to fill my cup for me instead.  She was slightly reluctant but did it for us nonetheless.

 

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5. Pholourie

 

These little bites of heaven are deep fried split pea balls.  Typically eaten as a finger food snack, they are crispy on the outside but have a light, fluffy texture on the inside.  Made with cumin, garlic, onion, green onions, turmeric, curry powder, with a dash of scotch bonnet pepper sauce, these are best enjoyed with a range of different sauces to your heart’s content.

These could be a tangy sweet and sour tamarind sauce, a culantro sauce or mango chutney.

 

Pholourie
Photo Credit: Immaculte Bites and check out their recipe here.

 

 

6. Sorrel

 

Ok so, I’ve cheated with this one, as it’s actually a drink. I made some yesterday so it’s been on my mind.

Typically had during Christmas time, this is a spice infused beverage made from boiling the red Hibiscus sabdariffa flower for hours.  Cinnamon, orange peel, cloves, ginger and brown sugar are also added to the mix, and of course – some rum!  This ruby coloured beverage is best enjoyed cold, with some ice, alongside

I suppose sorrel is a variation of the West African bissap, considering Trinidad and Tobago’s African heritage.   In Egypt, I have also enjoyed a similar drink called karkadeh.

Check out Shareba, from In Search of Yummyness’ recipe here.

 

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Hibiscus sabdariffa

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The Final Product

 

 

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