I hope every one had a fantastic Mother's day weekend. I sure did. The gifts were simple, the love and appreciation endless. The payment for all the food and love I share on a regular basis. Looking forward to my next pampering session--January 2020--my birthday!
Today I am sharing a family favorite and a highly requested recipe--curry shrimp. There are many variations of curry shrimp, each fantastic and delicious. Before I share any of those, it is important to start with and taste the most basic of them all--plain curry shrimp--no potato(aloo), no peas, no drama.
In my early years of marriage, I always made curry shrimp with potato. It was not until I visited my in laws that I appreciated the plain version. The taste of the shrimp was more pronounced and the flavor memorable! So much that I decided to alternate the recipes ever so often.
As I said in my You Tube video, we want to enhance, not over power the flavor of the shrimp. There must be the right balance of ingredients to allow the shrimp to shine.
In this recipe, shrimp is cooked with curry, herbs and pepper--both the hot kind, habanero and the seasoning kind--Caribbean pimento pepper. If you don't like heat you may remove the seeds from the hot pepper, or omit it altogether. If you don't have access to pimento pepper, leave it out as well. I know I have to make the occasional trek to Queens to stock up on pimento peppers, which I keep in a resealable bag in the freezer.
I know you will find this easy to prepare, especially if you buy the cleaned, deveined shrimp which is found in the frozen section of the supermarket and sold every where nowadays. If you don't have access to the frozen product, fresh is always best. You can clean the shrimp on the weekend, season and freeze until ready to use--preferably for a quick week night dinner.
If I leave some sauce in it, we eat it with plain Jasmine rice and a salad for a quick week night dinner or with paratha, dosti roti or dhalpuri for a lavish weekend meal--you can make with some pumpkin or curry aloo on the side. Hey why not?
WATCH YOU TUBE VIDEO HERE:
Curry Shrimp Recipe - YouTube
Curried Shrimp Recipe Serves 4-6
2 lbs small shrimp, shelled, deveined, rinsed and drained
8 leaves culantro (aka bandhania or shado beni) --substitute with 3 scallions or 1/4 cup cilantro, divided
1/2 small onion, thinly sliced, divided 7 cloves garlic, less or more to your taste, finely chopped, divided 1 medium tomato, chopped, optional
hot pepper, to taste
4 pimento peppers (Caribbean seasoning pepper), chopped, divided Salt and black pepper, to taste
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, or your preferred oil
2 tablespoons curry powder (if you have a light curry or like lots of sauce, use 3 tablespoons)
Make Green Seasoning: Using a knife or food processor finely chop scallions, peppers, onion and garlic. Set aside 1/4 of each to cook in the curry.
Peel, devein and wash shrimp in cold water. Season with the remainder of the culantro, garlic, onion chopped tomatoes, salt, pepper and marinate for several hours, overnight or not at all.
Heat oil in a narrow, heavy bottomed pot, add a few slices of onion and slices of pepper--if you are using. Cook until the edges darkens.
Add curry and cook about 2-3 minutes. Add about 1/4 cup of water and the remainder of the seasoning(culantro, garlic, hot pepper). Stir frequently, and cook until all the liquid has evaporated and curry becomes grainy and separates from the oil, about 3-5 minutes.
Add shrimp and cook for 2-3 minutes stirring frequently.
Cover and allow the shrimp to release its juices, checking and stirring in a basting motion every couple of minutes. Add about 1 cup of water if the shrimp does not release enough liquid or you want a lot of sauce.
Cook until desired result is achieved--determine whether you want sauce or not, about 15 minutes. Taste for salt and pepper and add as required.
Garnish with chopped culantro (or cilantro, if using) and chopped pimento pepper and serve warm over rice and a salad or with roti.
Happy Spring! I have somehow immersed myself in Spring cleaning(eliminating)--You could say I have been Kondo-ed(Marie Kondo). If you haven't seen that series yet, look for it on Netflix. I looked at two episodes and walked straight into my closet and eliminated everything that did not spark joy in my life! I feel free --as if a load has been lifted from my life. There is less hassle looking for clothes and it's now all neatly organized--well to the best of my ability.
From there I moved on to my younger daughter's room and extracted several more construction bags of clothes and 'stuff'. A million sneezes later, now she can no longer complain that she doesn't have any clothes. We unearthed about 30 jackets and other apparel that she loves but just didn't know they all existed in the black hole that was her bedroom closet.
My husband has now banned me from any more episodes of Marie K.--he was a little worried that I will start shopping again to fill the space now created in my closet. Hmmm...not a bad idea at all.
After Spring comes summer, and while it seems far, far away, I am planning ahead and ensuring that you are equipped with all the fabulous recipes you need to have a delicious Summer! Following the BBQ chicken recipe, which btw, has become very popular already, you need this potato salad recipe to accompany it! You need this cornbread recipe as well...
My potato salad recipe is fully loaded--well, that's what they say. Everyone who has been brave and patient enough will understand why. In my 35 plus years of cooking experience, I have learned a few things well--and one is balancing and creating flavors. If you wish to impress your friends, neighbors, co workers, family, I urge you to give this one a try.
In this recipe, I have added eggs(optional), mixed veggies, celery, scallions, parsley, red onion, bell peppers, pimento peppers, celery. It's a great balance of flavor and texture.
This makes a huge amount, enough for a potluck, family gathering or BBQ. However, the recipe can be easily halved. Once the chopping and boiling is done--the only thing left to do is mix it all together and enjoy! This can be made a day in advance as well--however, I suggest eliminating the red onion to prevent it from spoiling quickly.
Vegans, do not despair, you can easily eliminate the eggs and use Vegan mayo to make this work for you.
WATCH VIDEO INSTRUCTIONS HERE:
POTATO SALAD - YouTube
BEST POTATO SALAD RECIPE EVER! Serves 10-12 as a side dish
5 pound potatoes (preferably Russet) 5 eggs (omit for vegan option) 3 cups frozen mixed veggies, thawed and rinsed 1 red bell pepper, finely diced 2 stalks celery, finely diced 3 scallions (green parts), finely diced Small bunch parsley (about 1/4 cup chopped) 1/2 small red onion, finely diced 3 cloves garlic, minced or grated 2 pimento peppers (Caribbean seasoning pepper), finely diced
1 1/2 cups mayonnaise (or veganese for vegan option) 2 tablespoons yellow mustard 2 tablespoons lemon juice or vinegar 1 tablespoon brown sugar
1. POTATOES, EGGS and MIXED VEGGIES: Wash potatoes. Place in a large pot with cold water, add salt and bring to a boil. Then reduce the heat to a simmer. Boil until tender and a fork easily pierces the potato--but it is still firm. A couple of minutes before it finishes, add eggs (if using). Once cooked, remove potatoes and eggs from liquid and add mixed veggies. Drain and set aside.
Peel and dice potatoes and set aside. Also peel eggs and dice. Allow it to cool fully before mixing into mayo dressing. 2. While potatoes are boiling, grate or mince garlic, then finely dice bell pepper, celery, scallions, parsley, red onion and pimento peppers. 3. In a large bowl, make mayo mixture: Add mayo, mustard, lemon juice or vinegar, brown sugar and mix well.
4. Once the potatoes are cool, add it to bowl with the mayo mixture. Then add chopped eggs, drained mixed veggies, the chopped ingredients and stir it all gently to combine. Add salt if required.
5. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate immediately until ready to eat. With love and best dishes, Ria
Happy Wednesday! Can you believe that January is almost over? Where did the time go? Here in NYC it’s been pretty frigid. Last Monday, my daughter and I decided to take a leisurely walk on the beach, less than a minute later we were racing back inside. Tomorrow we will have record low temps! I am afraid, very afraid! This weather calls for soup or fish broth, check out that recipe here.
We are finishing up the left over fish broth I made on Sunday(yes leftovers just gets better) and tonight I will make some sada roti to go with the pumpkin I made last night. The Dah picked up two 22 oz packages of cubed pumpkin and those things require that you cook them ASAP because they go bad quickly.
Tomorrow, I plan to make this shrimp pasta, so look forward to new pics and updates. The current pictures do not do it justice! It’s time for an upgrade, don’t you think?
To pretend it’s not winter, make some oven bbq chicken with home made bbq sauce. If that doesn’t bring some sunshine into your life, I don’t know what to say or do.
BBQ chicken and homemade sauce doesn’t get any better than this. I've been throwing lavish BBQ's every 4th of July for as long as I can remember, so I know BBQ well!
The oven baked chicken is the simplest thing you can put together--preparation is super easy, using simple ingredients and the result is moist, flavorful and absolutely mouth watering.
This simple, sweet, spicy homemade sauce is irresistible and creates a sticky glaze on whatever meat you intend to use it on--including this recipe. It's sweet, tangy, full of layers of flavor and spicy if you need it to be.
This recipe was highly requested after I posted a You Tube Video of the Oven Baked Chicken with this sauce seductively slathered over it. Check it out!
PRESS PLAY TO WATCH VIDEO:
SIMPLE OVEN BBQ CHICKEN - YouTube
Warning: You will experience a sense of pride and achievement knowing that you have just made BBQ chicken with BBQ sauce from scratch. Everyone will be impressed as well--so make sure you inform everyone that this is your own masterpiece--created from a CookingwithRia recipe of course. Give me just a little credit, will ya?
OVEN BBQ CHICKEN RECIPE
3-4 pounds chicken legs, washed and drained
4-6 tablespoons Green Seasoning
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil or your favorite oil
Homemade BBQ sauce (see below) or your favorite store bought
1. Wash chicken with the juice of a lime or lemon. Drain.
2. Season with green seasoning, salt and pepper
3. Place in a single layer on a baking tray or dish, drizzle with oil and place in a preheated oven --350 degrees Fahrenheit
4. Cook until golden brown. Baste with BBQ sauce. Flip
5. Baste other side with BBQ sauce and return to oven. Cook until golden brown.
6. When it's done, feel free to baste with additional sauce and serve.
HOMEMADE BBQ SAUCE RECIPE
Ingredients 1 tablespoon oil Hot pepper, to taste ¼ cup chopped onion 1 tablespoon green seasoning 1 teaspoon minced garlic 1 cup organic ketchup ¼ cup honey ¼ cup brown sugar ½ teaspoon paprika ½ teaspoon ground cumin ½ teaspoon mustard powder 2 tablespoons organic molasses 2 tablespoons vinegar
1. In a small saucepan over medium heat, heat oil and sauté hot pepper until softened and brown at the edges. 2. Stir in onion, garlic and green seasoning and cook for 3-5 minutes to infuse the oil with the seasonings. 3. Whisk in all other ingredients and bring to a boil over medium heat. 4. Continue to boil and stir frequently until sauce has reduced and thickened, about 10 minutes.
Hope everyone's year started off productive and promising. I am chipping away at work, home and trying to stay on track with posting here on the blog and You Tube. All the organizing I failed to accomplish at year's end are now being tackled.
Being organized helps reduce stress, increases productivity and simply motivates me to do more. Less time dealing with clutter, misplaced items and searching for 'stuff' means more time to focus on being creative--all in a relaxing environment. I urge you to think of some areas of your life or your home where you can benefit from being more organized! One area where I am always rearranging items is in my kitchen--the goal is to work smoothly and efficiently. If you don't, you know what needs to be done!
Here are a few tips I have found most helpful for keeping my kitchen organized:
Place items that are used frequently within reach-measuring spoons and cups, mixing bowls, utensils, tools, everyday pots
Move items that are not used frequently to another storage area or on higher shelves
Declutter counters - allows you to have more work space
Place like items together - e.g bowls & storage containers of like size can fit snugly together creating more space. Not every one understands this! I have seen this rule violated with my own eyes!
Labels jars and containers with name and date--decreases time spent searching or figuring out what's inside. Dates will help you determine freshness or expiration dates.
Organize your spices: With tons of different spices, it can get pretty frustrating finding what you are looking for. Research clever and functional ways to store your spices. I place my spices by cuisine in small refrigerator trays--e.g. Indian, Italian, baking etc. This way I just pull a tray down from the cabinet depending on what I am cooking (or baking) on any given day.
Let me know in the comment section below what are you best tips for keeping YOUR kitchen organized!
Talking about kitchen, here is a tantalizing recipe inspired by our Jamaican neighbors in the Caribbean. Whereas many use bottled browning, I prefer to make it from scratch and use lots of simple, fresh ingredients.
As I have mentioned before, burning sugar is usually the starting point of our stews, our famous pelau an some soup dishes. It's not burnt like the color of charcoal but it is merely a method used to develop the sugar to the right color to add color and a unique depth of flavor.
Stewing of meat using "burnt" sugar was believed to be a West African cooking style brought to the Caribbean by the African slaves who were forced to work in the sugar plantations.
Once you sink your teeth and wrap your lips around a soft, fall of the bone, juicy, succulent, flavorful piece of oxtail there is no going back. I don't remember the first time I ate oxtail, but I surely remember the last time, today.
Back in the days when I lived in Brooklyn and rode the no. 5 train to Flatbush Ave., I'd occasionally treat myself and my family to a dinner of Oxtail stew with rice and beans, cabbage and fried plantains from the popular Jamaican restaurant in the area. Nowadays, they have expanded their operation and probably changed the chef and recipe because it's not the same!
I've been obsessed with developing a recipe that equals or exceeds the original stewed oxtail I ate in Brooklyn in taste and texture. So much that whenever I encountered a Jamaican (mostly in the grocery) the first thing I inquired was whether they can make oxtail stew and would be willing to share the recipe. Unfortunately, many swear by seasoning salts with MSG which will not work for me, so my goal has been to develop an exceptional all natural version which I am happy to share with you today.
I am confident you would love my recipe, so please give it a try!
Tip: Oxtail can be seasoned in advance to save time and also to improve flavor.
PRESS PLAY TO VIEW VIDEO INSTRUCTIONS:
HOW TO MAKE STEWED OXTAILS | OXTAIL STEW RECIPE - YouTube
Succulent Stewed Oxtail Recipe
RECIPE CAN BE EASILY HALVED...
4 lbs oxtail 1/2 cup green seasoning (4 scallions, 4 leaves culantro, 8 cloves garlic) 1 large onion, chopped 2 pimento peppers (Caribbean seasoning pepper) 1 hot habanero or scotch bonnet pepper (optional) 1 ripe plum tomato, chopped 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
To Cook: 1-2 tablespoons cooking oil 4 tablespoons brown sugar (if using potatoes and beans, used 5 tbs) 4 tablespoons organic ketchup 2 medium carrots 4 celery stalks ½ red bell pepper, chopped 10 pimento seeds (or 1/2 teaspoon ground) 6 fresh thyme sprigs 2 medium potatoes, optional 1 can butter beans, optional (rinsed and drained)
Trim excess fat from oxtail. Wash oxtail with the juice of a lime or lemon. Rinse several times and drain.
Season with green seasoning, chopped onion, pimento and hot peppers, tomato, salt and black pepper.
Heat oil in a large, heavy bottomed pot over medium heat.
Add brown sugar and allow to it froth, bubble, expand and darken--like the color of browning. Add ketchup and cook for a few seconds.
Add seasoned oxtail and stir fry for 2-3 minutes to coat evenly with the browning. Cover, reduce heat to low and allow the oxtail to cook and release its juices.
Once the natural juices have evaporated, add carrots, celery, bell pepper, pimento, tomato and thyme sprigs. Stir 1 minute.
Add 6 cups of water or enough to cover and raise heat to high to bring to a boil. Once it comes to a boil, cover, lower heat to a simmer and cook for about 2-3 hours or until tender and the sauce has thickened. Potato and beans can be added during the last hour of cooking. Taste and add more salt if required.
Remove thyme sprigs and serve hot over freshly steamed jasmine rice or rice and beans with a side of fried plantains!
When I think of patchoi or pak choi (or pak choy) I remember primary school days. Sitting at my desk, opening my tin lunch kit, first removing the package of Ovaltine biscuit (remember that?) and laying it on the desk. Then removing my lunch and carefully unwrapping the foil to reveal a moistened, but not soggy, quarter of a roti stuffed with patchoi. The memory is enough to induce salivation.
If I were to pack this for my kids for lunch they would file a complaint with the department of child care services. They would gladly eat patchoi and roti on weekends but because of peer pressure and bullying they will quicker take a sandwich made of processed meat(which I don't allow at any costs)!
I think it’s time we adopt the old way of eating (just try not to eat a whole roti :-))! !For breakfast every morning—almost 40 years ago, we would have a vegetarian breakfast followed by a vegetarian dinner, albeit with sada roti—it was still health-ier than what breakfast consists of nowadays- and nourishing. I’ve seen parents on the train feeding their children processed cakes, chemical laced artificial juices and soda for breakfast. It upsets me tremendously, but I reassure myself it’s better than starvation.
Some breakfast (or sometimes dinner) dishes we enjoyed with sada roti back in the days were:
Curry bodi and aloo
Fried Seim (seim ki phalli, Indian Broad beans, Green hyacinth bean))
Bhagee (Sauteed Spinach)
Curry Aloo (Potato)
Curry Channa and aloo (Chickpeas, garbanzo beans)
Baigan choka (Eggplant)
Baigan and aloo
Fried Caraille (bitter melon)
Sada Eddoes (taro or cocoyam)
**”fried’ does not necessarily mean deep fried but sautéed…
Which is/are your favorite?
What I love about our Trini cuisine is the simplicity of our vegetarian dishes. Not only are they uncomplicated, they are exceptionally delicious.
Patchoi served with roti is a traditional breakfast meal, but since I am trying to incorporate more veggies into our meals, I serve this as a healthy side dish to stewed chicken and rice or other meat and rice meal combos. Occasionally, I eat it by itself (perfect vegetarian meal) with jasmine rice or with pan seared or baked fish. It can also be served with eggs for a healthy low carb breakfast.
Patchoi by itself is slightly bitter and but when cooked with the tomatoes, it enhances the flavor of the patchoi and the result is crunchy, sweet, juicy. Stir Frying aids in releasing the most flavor. That’s the best explanation I can give. You have to taste it for yourself.
Interesting facts about Pak Choi:
Pak choi and bok choy are of the same plant. It comes in the scientific name of Brassica campestris L.
Pak choi, or bok choy, is also called pe-tsai, petsay, Chinese white cabbage, and white celery mustard.
It is a Chinese cabbage with leafy, green leaves and white stalks.
Pak choi, or bok choy, mostly grows in Asian regions like the Philippines, China, and Vietnam.
Eating pak choi, or bok choy, can bring you several health benefits by being low in calories, rich in antioxidants, vitamin A, C, vitamin K, B Complex Vitamins calcium and iron.
Selection and storage of Pak Choy Although pak choi/bok choy can be available year round, it is at its best during the winter season. In the markets, buy fresh harvest featuring firm stalks and dark green crispy, flavorful leaves. Avoid slump plant with leaves wilted and lost their luster. Once at home store whole pak choi (bok-choy) in vegetable compartment inside the refrigerator, set at high relative humidity. If stored appropriately, it stays fresh for up to 3-4 days without loss of much of nutrients. However, pak choi is more nutritious, sweeter, and flavorful when used fresh. (https://www.nutrition-and-you.com/bok-choy.html)
I hope you make it a regular part of your meals whether it’s breakfast, lunch or dinner.
PRESS PLAY TO WATCH DETAILED INSTRUCTIONAL VIDEO BELOW:
How to Cook Pak Choy | Pak Choi | Patchoi | Bok Choy - YouTube
TRINI PAK CHOY RECIPE SERVES 6 DIFFICULTY: VERY EASY! Ingredients
2 ½ pounds pak choy 2 medium ripe tomatoes, chopped 1 large sweet onion, sliced 4-6 cloves garlic ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil Hot pepper, to taste 2-3 teaspoons Himalayan salt
Remove the stem of the patchoi. Rinse each leaf individually. Drain.
Chop patchoi in bite size pieces(see video). Slice onion. Chop hot pepper(if using). Mince, grate or mash garlic.
Heat oil in a wide sauté pan over medium heat.
Add onion and tomatoes and cook until onion is translucent, 3-5 minutes. Add garlic and sauté for one minute.
Add chopped patchoi (white stems only) and salt. Cook, stirring constantly to mix all ingredients 2-3 minutes. Raise heat to high, cover and cook for another 5-10 minutes, stirring occasionally in a basting motion until liquid has evaporated (but not dry and sticking) and the whites are translucent(or to your desired doneness).
Add green leaves and cook for 2-3 minutes or just until they are cooked.
Taste and add more salt if required.
Remove pot from burner.
MEAL IDEAS: Enjoy alone or with:
Sada or Paratha Roti (Side of fried plantain!)
Gluten/Grain Free Breakfast: Serve with Eggs
Vegetarian: Freshly Steamed Rice
Healthy Side Dish: Accompany Stewed Chicken (or stewed anything) and rice
Another year is upon us and so it goes--whether we are ready or not. For the first time, on old year's night, I did not clean all of my closets and drawers, had a pile of dirty laundry from our week long vacation and heck, I did not even eat black eyes peas or fish for good luck! My mother would be disappointed if she knew. She taught us better than that. I was exhausted from our red eye flight from Trinidad. Slept most of the day(Old year's), went to visit my mom, returned home and slept again until 11:45 pm just in time to drag myself down stairs to watch the ball drop with my family.
On New Year's day, slept in late, woke up and scribbled a few resolutions, downloaded a 'health book" from Amazon, read 70 pages, sent my daughters a motivational text and made myself some eggs and some sort of roti made with plantain and coconut flour--a recipe motivated by the book I was reading(gluten/wheat free drama). I was adamant that there will be no feast as I ended the year the heaviest I have ever been. Guilt for days. A thought did occur to make some homemade bread for breakfast but I was quickly reminded of the number on the scale the day before.
In the afternoon, the Dah (hubbie) requested fried rice to accompany the fried shrimp my Auntie Toy made for me. I asked him to find me mixed veggies from the freezer and he discovered a bag of frozen peas and carrots--so that would be the star of the dish. 'Discovered' being the key word as anything found in any one of my three freezers is certainly a 'discovery".
The corn was a special request from my daughter. The eggs happened to be on the counter from breakfast...and little by little it came together. I've decided to share this with you here instead of writing it down in my recipe book--which means you may never hear about it--and if this is the only recipe I post this year, then that's still an accomplishment.
It was indeed remarkable for a 15 minute dish, give it try when you are in a hurry. With the peas and eggs, it's vegetarian and filling. Corn adds a little sweetness and the sauce kicks it all up a few notches to make it taste like Chinese take out.
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil 1/2 large sweet onion, chopped 6 large cloves garlic, chopped 2 large scallions, chopped 1 bag frozen peas and carrots, defrosted and rinsed 1 can corn, drained, rinsed--and drained again 4-6 cups say old Jasmine Rice salt and pepper, to taste
2 eggs with a pinch of salt, whisked and fried in a paper thin layer--(made on a tawa) --then cut in small pieces
Sauce for fried rice 1/4 cup shoyu sauce (light soy sauce) 2 tablespoons sesame oil 1 tablespoons rice wine vinegar 1 tablespoon brown sugar
Mix sauce and set aside. Chop onion, garlic and scallions. Fry eggs. and chop into small pieces.
Heat oil in a large pot over hight heat, add onion and garlic and cook until edges of onion turn golden brown, about 3-5 minutes.
Add scallions and cook 2 minutes.
Add rinsed and drained peas and carrots and salt, cook 5 minutes, stirring at a minimum to allow any extra liquid to evaporate.
Add corn and cook 1 minute.
Add rice, eggs, sauce and stir fry until some become crisp and brown-breaking up any chunks.
Taste and add salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste.
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As I get ready to end this year strong and set goals for the new year, I thought that I should post just one more recipe on the blog! Even though this recipe was posted on You Tube on April 8, 2017, it never got a home here... until now! I am always a bit late, but better late than never, right?
This year I had many successes at work and in my personal life. My elder daughter turned 16 and I fulfilled my promise to take her to Paris and throw her a birthday party! In two weeks I planned and organized a get together with about fifty family and friends, transforming my backyard into an impressive party atmosphere that left my guests stunned. Thanks to the power of the internet. Had I planned it for years like some folks do, I could not have done a better job!
Work travel to far and near including London and more recently LA was rewarding and exciting and I am already planning my trips for the new year. I always aim to do less traveling but it never happens!
This year I posted 20 videos on You Tube which was the exact number I had on my to do list. This for me was quite the accomplishment considering that it takes about 40 hours to complete one video and then there is real life - my work, commute and home/family schedule! I hope to do more in 2019 despite it all. This (blogging and creating) is my meditation. I get so immersed that I forget about all the chaos in life.
You may have noticed that I updated this blog a little and more progress will be made. I plan to make this a convenient and user-friendly space where you will find some, if not many, of your favorite recipes! Some of the older recipes are getting a make-over and I plan to post more new ones every month! So stay tuned! Please also feel free to write with any suggestions, recipe or video requests. I would love to hear from you.
Now onto the real reason for this blog post....
If you are here because you have Googled "What is doubles"? This is the post for you! By the time you are done reading this you will yearn for this snack, but rest assured the recipe and video are included below to help you make this successfully at home!
Doubles is by far the most popular, cheap, satisfying, fast food, beloved street food in Trinidad. It is a delicious sloppy sandwich made with two pillowy soft baras-flat fried breads-filled with channa also known as curried chickpeas--even though there is no curry here(You may add if you wish).
It is a vessel for the mouth watering condiments and Caribbean flavors. Condiments range from a choice of grated cucumber, tamarind chutney, kuchela, hot sauce (peppah sauce) or sometimes even coconut chutney to a "lil bit of everything". I have heard rumors of triples—the use of three baras. The fillings too have become creative with chicken or goat. I have never tried or seen it so I can’t attest to its actual existence.
It is a joyful culmination of sweet, savory, tangy, spicy--all in one mouthful! A gastronomical delight that is addicting and afflicting. Afflicting in a sense that one could suffer from doubles tabanca if not eaten for a very long period.
It really helps that doubles vendors are not scarce either. Each person in Trinidad will passionately voice who in their opinion makes the best doubles. "That guy by the Chaguanas market," or "the other guy across from the gas station" or "de man in Tong" or "them people in Tunapuna". "from the guy dong the road" etc..!
What makes a good doubles? I would say the texture and thickness of the bara, it must have a certain chew to it, the chickpeas must be tender and flavorful, not too dry, the condiments should leave you yearning for another doubles. I asked my sister what she thinks makes a good doubles, she says, "it melts in your mouth not in your hand like M and M's". Alrighty then?
One doubles is filling and satisfying but one evening after school, I vividly recollect eating ten doubles. That is not a typo. To justify that avarice, I have since convinced myself that they were probably very small doubles. That doubles was by far the best and most memorable doubles I’ve ever had. One year I returned to Trinidad to search for that doubles man, who by the way was situated in Couva market just down the sreet from Holy Faith Convent where I attended, only to learn that he no longer sells doubles. That was one of the saddest, most forlorn moments of my existence.
I have begged folks to put me in touch with their favorite doubles vendor so that I can extract their recipe from them, but the opportunity never came. I’ve thought about it a lot, dreamt about it and one day I walked into my kitchen determined to develop the best doubles recipe. There is no reason why I can’t create a recipe, this is not rocket science, I am smart enough to do it. Equipped with all the positive thoughts I can muster I created the first sample. The texture was there, but the color and taste hinted that I added too much turmeric. I took a nap and returned to the kitchen for a repeat performance. My husband, after tasting it, raised his eyebrows and smiled. He is a man of few words.
The making of the channa proved to be more challenging than the bara. The chickpeas if you really examine it, does not have a lot of color and taste on its own, it is enhanced by the bara and flavorful condiments. I tested it one weekend and then another time one night after work. I realized that it required a lot of boiling in order to have that tender, melt in your mouth texture that makes a great chickpea filling. Baking soda does the trick!
Some claim that the chickpeas are simply boiled with the herbs and turmeric and others suggest that chunkaying it is the best way to go. Chunkaying is the process of first cooking the spices in the oil to bring out the flavor, then adding the chickpeas and other seasonings. I've tried it both ways and I find this method (boiling) is more authentic/similar to the doubles we usually buy.
Feel free to use the chunkay method: add 1-2 tbs of oil in the pot over medium heat, cook curry until grainy and fragrant, adding a few tablespoons of water--about 3-5 minutes. Add chickpeas(which you can season ahead with garlic and bandhania), sautee for 5 minutes, then add hot water and continue with the recipe as listed below.
I don’t know if this recipe will allow you to start your own doubles business, but I do know that if there isn’t a doubles vendor in your part of the world or town, this recipe will bring a taste of home/Trinidad to you.
Press Play to Watch Instructional Video:
TRINIDADIAN DOUBLES | STEP BY STEP VIDEO - YouTube
Doubles Bara Recipe
Can be made as thick or thin, however you like it..that's the beauty of homemade doubles!
Once these are pressed down by weight, it becomes thinner(this is what happens when the doubles man makes and stacks hundreds of baras!)
2 cups all purpose flour 1/2 teaspoon baking powder(preferably aluminum free) 1 teaspoon salt 1 teaspoon instant yeast Pinch turmeric (1/4 tsp) 2 teaspoons sugar 1 cup lukewarm water (less about 3 tbs) 1 tablespoon oil, for rubbing on dough
In a medium bowl, add flour, salt, yeast, turmeric and sugar.
Add water gradually and mix to form a soft but not sticky dough. Do not over knead.
Rub with oil, cover and set aside to rest 1 hour (minimum) or until doubled(max 6 hrs or overnight).
Make into little balls. Cover and allow to raise another hour or until doubled.
5. Rub oil on a flat surface. Place dough on oil and flatten to a 4 inch round. Make to your desired thickness--keeping in mind it puffs up as it cooks!
6. Meanwhile heat oil in a small pot over medium-high heat. Gently place dough in hot oil and fry on each side until cooked, about one minute. Drain on the side of the pot, using the spoon.
Wrap immediately in paper towel and then a kitchen towel.
Repeat with the remaining dough.
Place in tightly sealed container to allow it to soften and flatten--just like the doubles man's!
Serve hot with Doubles channa(recipe below).
Doubles Channa Recipe
1 lb dried chickpeas (channa) 2 teaspoons baking soda, divided 2 tablespoons minced culantro (bandhania) 1 tablespoon minced garlic 1/4 teaspoon turmeric 2 teaspoons curry powder, optional finish off with 1 tbs bandhania(finely chopped or minced--about 5 leaves) and 1 teaspoon anchar massala or ground roasted cumin.
Soak chickpeas overnight with 1 teaspoon baking soda. Drain and rinse with several changes of water. Drain again.
In a pot, add about 12 cups of water over medium heat. Add channa, 2 teaspoons of salt, 1 teaspoon of baking soda, stir to combine. Bring to a boil. Scoop out any impurities that rise to the top.
When chickpeas are tender, about 1 hour, add 1 tablespoon of bandhania, 1 tablespoon of minced garlic and turmeric and mix well.
Continue to cook for 15-20 minutes., more if required. Then with a wooden spoon, stir, moving back and forth motion to bring it to the right consistency. This will take several minutes for the channa to thicken.
Taste for salt and add more if required. To finish, mix in bandhania and anchar massala or ground roasted cumin. Enjoy with the baras! Can be made ahead--a day before...
Please let us know who is your favorite doubles vendor/man/woman and where are they located?
PRESS PLAY TO LEARN HOW TO MAKE BOILED MANGO CHUTNEY
Growing up, pumpkin and 'dosti" roti (a three layered roti) was one of my absolute favorite meals! Strangely enough, it’s also my 10 year-old-daughter’s favorite.
In my recipe below, cubes of pumpkin are sautéed with simplest of ingredients; olive oil, garlic, onion and the optional hot pepper. It’s steamed until tender, then mashed to a smooth, paste-like consistency. Roasted ground geera (cumin) is also added at the end of cooking to highlight the flavor of the pumpkin. (Mummy swears by the addition of a little brown sugar at the beginning of cooking).
Pumpkin is traditionally eaten for breakfast with roti and served at religious functions and weddings along with a flavorful array of other vegetarian dishes.
In the tiny village where I grew up in Central Trinidad, it was and still is customary that women would gather the day before a “prayers” [religious function] or wedding to prepare enormous quantities of vegetables for the next day’s vegetarian feast. I was a young girl then, but I vividly recall helping to peel and cube what seemed like a ton of pumpkin!
[Picture of "Calabaza" taken at Chaguanas market, Trinidad.]
Assisting in the prep work wasn’t my favorite thing to do, but listening to the banter of the older ladies (and eavesdropping on the latest village gossip) was fun and the thought of the end result - the next day’s feast - was encouraging (will work free for food)! Nowadays, I rarely buy the whole unpeeled pumpkins. Do you blame me? I always look for the peeled and cubed pumpkin in my supermarket or BJ’s.
[Picture taken at Chaguanas market, Trinidad.]
I have roasted pumpkin, added it to soups, callaloo, stews, my green seasoning, “cook up” rice and once I even made a pumpkin cheesecake, but in this recipe it’s the star of the show. Over the years, I have shared our Trinidadian method of preparing pumpkin with many folks via a conversation at the supermarket, on the train, in a park, the ladies room…wherever necessary …Now I am very excited to share this recipe here with those of you who love pumpkin, but are unaware of this very simple method of preparation.
[Squash has a different texture, but is equally delicious.]
This pumpkin dish is satisfying, sumptuous and healthy. I attest my excellent eyesight to all the pumpkin I’ve eaten over the years! (I have roti and rice to thank for my curvaceous hips. Atleast the eyesight is good.)…Not only is pumpkin rich in antioxidants and beta carotene, it’s very low in calories, and a very good source of dietary fiber. But that’s just the wonderful side benefits of eating pumpkin.
[So many varieties of pumpkin in the U.S!
For this recipe I only use Calabaza or Squash..]
The main benefit is the wonderful experience of breaking off a piece of roti, using it to scoop up the pumpkin, excitedly shoving it in your mouth and savoring the inviting combination of flavors! Okay, so I got a little carried away….and yes, it’s that good.
Some pumpkins cook quickly and melt on its own, while others require your time, attention and hard labor to mash. It’s not uncommon to hear some cooks exclaim in our beautiful Trini dialect, “Dat pungkin cook rel good boy, dat was a gooood pungkin”.
Well, fellow foodies, I do hope your pungkin cook rel good!!
Ria's Trinidadian Pumpkin
2 pounds pumpkin, peeled and cubed (butternut squash, calabaza)
6 large cloves of garlic, minced (about 2 tablespoons)
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1-2 teaspoon roasted ground cumin (geera), or to taste
1 teaspoon Himalayan salt (or to taste)
2 teaspoons raw brown sugar(optional)
Slices of habanero or scotch bonnet (optional)
Scrub the outside of the pumpkin with a vegetable brush under running water. Pat dry with a paper towel. Cut in half. Scrape out the fibers and seeds. Dice the pumpkin into 1 - 1.5 inch pieces. Sometimes, I cut the pumpkin into small pieces before peeling, all depends on the mood I'm in.
Grate or mince garlic. Slice onion and hot pepper, if using.
In a heavy bottomed pot over medium heat, heat oil. Add the onion (and hot pepper if using), cook for a few minutes until the onion becomes light golden brown. Add the garlic and cook for another minute until translucent.
[Allow the onion to become light golden brown for the best result. Not like this...]
Add pumpkin, stir to coat with the oil. Add salt and (sugar if using). Reduce the heat to low, cover and cook until the pumpkin is tender, stirring occasionally to ensure that it doesn’t stick.
The pumpkin will relinquish its juices, depending on the variety of pumpkin. When the pumpkin is cooked through, use the back of the spoon to mash the pumpkin until you have a paste like consistency and there are no chunks. It must be a smooth consistency. Always scrape down the sides of the pot.
Continue to cook uncovered until any liquid from the pumpkin has evaporated and it begins to stick to the pot.
Stir in cumin and serve with roti, rice or pita bread.
Hope you give this recipe a try,
Also wishing you a Happy Diwali,
May Light always conquer darkness!
Diwali Menu (Vegetarian) using recipes already on my blog (I am working on the others! :-)).
Before I get to the recipe I would like to thank all the wonderful readers of my blog, especially those who have taken the time to send me such wonderful emails telling me how much you love my blog and sharing your personal stories with me. You inspire me!
Due to an 'overwhelming' (sarcasm) number of requests for this recipe, I now present the auspicious and truly ubiquitous Trinidad black cake. The Caribbean-rum-fruit-cake that trumps all other cakes. What makes it so special, so beloved? You can say that it’s the fruits, the butter or the sugar, but I am convinced that it’s the rum. The rum elevates it to a level that makes you giddy with happiness. No wonder Trinidad was named the happiest country in the world.
This cake was soaked slightly. The color of the cake darkens as more of the rum and wine mixture is poured on....
Even the non-alcohol drinker (a sip makes me drunk) like me makes an exception or two over the holidays and it's not uncommon to have a slice for breakfast at work and a piece immediately upon returning home from a long, arduous day at work. It makes for a very happy day.
I spoke to many people over the years to extract their secret to making this cake. One cousin does not add baking powder and the result is soft, almost pudding-like. Many online recipes call for 8 eggs. Most of the best bakers I spoke to in Trinidad uses 12. “Use a 'pong' (pound) of everything and just average the odder ingredients”, they recommend. No one had a precise recipe and none of the recipes I reviewed online mentioned that the pound of each fruit along with the entire bottle of rum and wine, called for in many recipes, were not used in its entirety.
I am here to eliminate all the vagaries once and for all. I did all the testing and retesting for you. No more doubts, averaging, trial and error methods. I tested it so many times, that late one night while placing the cherries on one of the many cakes I made, I swore that the cake was moving. It was at that moment, I knew what it felt like to be utterly inebriated.
I settled on a recipe given to me over the phone by my mom’s friend, Aunty Lach. It was aunty Lach’s black cake that I grew up on. Her black cakes would be the benchmark for all the other cakes I would consume in the future. None ever lived up to hers, until now. I translated her “average” measurement and suggestions into the best recipe I could create.
This is a simple recipe and in no way daunting.
No black cake introduction is complete without telling you about all those eerie large glass jars of black stuff (currants, prunes, raisins soaked in rum) my mother had hidden under the kitchen sink. I was ordered to not touch, open or smell the contents. I don’t recall her baking black cakes, because her best friends did that for her(Aunty Lach was one), but those jars held their presence for my entire childhood. I wouldn’t be surprised if they are still there under the sink back home, all dusty and connected by cobwebs, waiting for their moment to shine.
Don’t tell her I told you this, but she still has a bucket of fruits soaking under the sink, here in NY. Last year, I went to her home and made black cake for her with some of the soaked fruits. As of the writing of this post, the lady still hasn’t baked a black cake.
Because of that I grew up thinking that soaking –for years and months--is best technique, until I tasted black cake that was made using fruits pureed the same day. I couldn’t tell the difference!
With the introduction of food processors in the kitchen, soaking for months to soften the fruits is no longer required, in my humble opinion. If soaking for months intensifies the flavor of the rum, come eating time, it really doesn’t matter to me.
•Fruits soaked longer result in a moister cake! If fruits are soaked only a couple of hours or days, it will result in more of a cakey texture. Still extremely delicious!
•I halved the original one (1) pound recipe, to make only two not four cakes. I found this amount easier to manage. You will be overwhelmed managing bowls and bowls of batter--especially if you are making it for the first time! Thank me later!
•Cakes baked in parchment paper lined tins are easier to remove and serve. It was impossible to remove the cake from the tins I floured and buttered, especially after soaking. I personally like using springform pans and line the bottom with parchment paper.
•When the cakes are removed from the oven, they will look like the color of a chocolate cake, but will darken as the rum/wine mixture is poured on.
•The amount of browning used will vary depending on the brand--add gradually until the desired color is achieved.
•Many recipes call for nutmeg, allspice, cloves and mixed essence, however, this cake is already amazing without those ingredients so I don't add. Try it for yourself and see! Add only a pinch if you insist--you don't want to overpower the fruit flavor.
•Mixed essence is a combination of vanilla and almond extracts--which we are already using in it's purest form! I just saved you the trouble of trying to figure out what it is and where to go find it. Thank me later.
Press play to watch video below:
CARIBBEAN BLACK CAKE | RUM FRUIT CAKE RECIPE - YouTube
BLACK CAKE RECIPE AKA CARIBBEAN RUM SOAKED FRUIT CAKE AKA CARIBBEAN FRUIT CAKE RECIPE
Makes 1-2 cakes (depending on whether you like it thick or thin)
½ lb butter (2 sticks), room temperature (I used organic sweet cream salted butter), plus more for buttering pans
½ lb organic white or brown sugar
6 eggs, room temperature, whisked
4 oz golden or dark raisins
4 oz currants
4 oz prunes
4 oz mixed (fruit) peel
1 cup cherry wine (I used Manischewitz)
1 cup red rum (I use Fernandez black label)
½ lb all-purpose flour
1 heaping teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 ½ tablespoons browning (also known as burnt sugar) (may need more depending on the brand)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon pure almond extract
2 teaspoons aluminum free baking powder
•8 inch pan (I used a 9 inch in some of the pics here which resulted in a thinner cake) or
Cupcake pan (makes 24) or Cake tins •Parchment paper--to line tins •Food processor or blender to macerate fruits (or old fashioned food mill) •Hand mixer, Immersion blender, Kitchen Aid Mixer or other similar tool (to cream the butter and sugar) •Glass or plastic container to soak fruits, if you plan to do this ahead. You can double or quadruple the soaked fruits part if you plan to make numerous cakes! •Large mixing bowl (if using hand mixer) *Rubber spatula for scraping down batter and smoothing *Food scale to weigh fruits
1. In a small bowl or measuring cup mix 1 cup of cherry wine and 1 cup of rum.
2. In a small glass bowl, add raisins, currants, prunes and mixed fruit peel and 1 cup of rum and wine mixture, reserving the remaining cup to pour over the cake when it's finished baking. Soak fruits for a few hours (minimum) or overnight…..or weeks or months...or years--whatever makes you happy.
3. When you are ready to bake the cake, puree the fruits (raisins, currants, prunes and mixed peel) in the food processor, along with the liquid it was soaked in, until it is a slightly coarse consistency. It will make about 2 cups. (I pulse about 60 times in the food processor for fruit that has soaked only 3-4 hours. I don't enjoy eating huge chunks of fruits!)
For fruits soaked up to a year, measure 2 pounds (no liquid) and you only need to pulse about 15-20 times. It should yield about 2 1/2 cups of macerated fruit. This version (and quantity) will result in more of a pudding texture rather than a "cakey" texture. If you wish for a cakey texture, reduce amount of fruit used.
4. Preheat oven to 280 degrees F. Prepare two 8 inch pans, small gift tins or cupcake pans using the usual butter then flour or line with parchment paper. I do not butter the baking tins when using parchment paper since the parchment paper comes all the way to the top of the tin. I trim the excess paper around tin.).
5. Crack eggs into a bowl. Using an electric beater or fork, whisk eggs for about 30 seconds on level 2 speed.
6. In a large bowl or in a kitchen aid stand mixer bowl, using the beater attachment(I also use the whisk when I cannot find the beater attachment!), cream butter and sugar (medium speed) until the batter is light in color, has increased in volume and fluffy, about 5-10 minutes. It may take longer using the hand mixer.
7. Pour whisked eggs into the creamed mixture in a very slow and steady stream until combined.
8. Mix cinnamon, flour and baking powder and gradually add to creamed mixture (on level 1). Alternately, you can fold in flour mixture by hand.
9. Once flour is in, add almond and vanilla extracts(or add to egg and skip this step), increase to level 4 speed and continue until flour mixture is light, another minute. Remove bowl from stand and scrape down sides and bottom and mix with a spoon to ensure that the batter is evenly and thoroughly combined.
10. Add pureed fruits and browning to batter. Start with 1-2 tablespoons and gradually add more, if required, to achieve the desired color.
Using a wooden spoon, mix in a brisk, clockwise, whipping motion until thoroughly combined(10-15 times).
11. Pour batter into one or two prepared 8 inch round baking pans(or pans lined with parchment paper). Two will result in thin cakes--one thicker.
This recipe will also make approx. 24 cupcakes(fill cupcake tins 3/4 full and bake for less time). Cupcakes took 45 minutes in my oven.
Immediately place pans on the middle rack in the oven and bake until a toothpick or skewer, inserted in the cake, comes out clean, about 45-70 minutes. All depends on the thickness of the cake and the size of the pans used. You will need to employ your sense of sight and smell to ensure that it does not burn or over bake.
13. Remove cakes from the oven. When cakes are not hot but still slightly warm, pierce with a toothpick and drizzle rum and wine mixture over cake(about 3 tablespoons at a time). Repeat the morning and evening the next day. You may continue to add more wine or rum to your liking. I personally don’t like to collapse and sprawl out on my sofa, bed or desk after eating one slice of cake. The decision is yours!
STORAGE: Black cake can be left out on the counter but must be tightly wrapped with plastic wrap or brown paper and foil or place in a tightly covered tin pan. If at any time you see that it's beginning to dry out, add more wine mixture over cake. Some folks soak their cake with a bottle of rum which allows it to last for many years, but unless you are an alcoholic or almost one, I won't recommend doing that!
Enjoy in moderation and for your own sake, DON'T eat black cake and drive!!
Great gift idea...Rum fruit cupcake.
As you can see, I prefer my cakes thin and wide vs. tall and narrow--only because I enjoy small bites! Feel free to make it whatever height and width you like--varying the pans that you use.
Wishing you a Merry Christmas and Fabulous New Year!