One of my favorite dishes that my mom makes is Callaloo. As a kid, I couldn’t stand it… it was slimy, green, and just not the easiest on the eyes. Once I became a young adult, I began to really develop the taste for it.
Callaloo means different things to different people. It originated with West African slaves in the West Indies, and is a common dish on most of the islands in the Caribbean. In Trinidad, it is made with dasheen or taro with okra, and is kind of like a thick soup. Jamaican callaloo is totally different. I found this out the hard way. I had my my mouth fixed for what I knew as callaloo – turns out the Jamaican version is similar to American collard greens in its look, but more finely chopped steamed leaves. I’m sure it is good – but I was pregnant, mom wasn’t around to make it, and I wanted what I wanted. Each island has its own way of making it. I’ll be sharing my mom’s recipe for the fast Trinidadian-American version of the dish.
I love it with white rice, peas and rice (or rice and peas), potato, dumpling, cassava, macaroni pie – anything starchy is nice with it to tell you the truth.
My dad puts crab claws in it – but I don’t like to fight with anything in my food like that, so I like my mom’s best (sorry Dad). Sometimes she puts a little saltfish in it, but eating that is never a fight for me!
Melanie Edwards from ModernMami.com asked on Facebook if I knew of a good callaloo recipe, so I gave my mom a call, and she gave me her quick callaloo recipe. I’ll have to give it a try. She didn’t mention adding pepper sauce, but I add it on my own plate after its done.
So here it is… you don’t have to go hunt down dasheen – just hit the frozen vegetable aisle at the grocery store, and you can be done in 20 minutes, with just 7 ingredients (including water). As it is with a lot of Caribbean moms who give a recipe, everything is approximate – adjust it to your taste, and what your family will enjoy. Reading this from the front page? Be sure to click “read more” to get the recipe…
My Mom’s Quick Callaloo
- 1 10 oz box frozen spinach (chopped)
- 1 10 oz box of frozen okra (cut)
- 1 small onion (or ½ large onion)
- ½ tsp of salt to taste
- ¼ tsp of black pepper
- 3 to 4 oz of coconut milk (about 1/3 of a can)
- 2 to 3 oz of water (depending on how thick you want it)
Optional: Garlic, dry parsley, basil, crab legs and claws, saltfish (adjust your salt if you choose saltfish)
Put all in a pot at once, bring to a boil, and turn down to low – simmer until spinach is cooked. Remove from the stove and put in a blender (pulse 3 or 4 times) or use hand blender (pass around pot about 4 times). You don’t want it too fine. Prep time – 5 minutes; Cook time – 20 minutes
Check out some more of my mom’s great advice: Surviving Labor Day on Eastern Parkway: Carnival 2012 in Brooklyn, New York and Eczema in Caribbean American/African American Children
Did you try it out? How did it go?