Tuesday, 13 October 2009

Vegan Caribbean Flavours

One of my other tasks over the weekend was to clean out some of my store cupboards to see what jars, tins and sauces I had, and how many of them were past their sell-by-date, fortunately not many were, but a few had to be used, including this callaloo tin. I am cringing just to admit I have a tin of callaloo in my store cupboard, especially as someone who tries to grow her own vegetables. You may then ask why on earth do I have the tinned stuff? Well the truth is, I was curious to try what callaloo tasted like. Callaloo is made from the leaves of the Dasheen bush, which you can buy at specialist markets, but I have not seen it fresh in any of the shops in Scotland, so it had to be tinned.
Callaloo is served mainly as an accompaniment, so my thoughts turned to how I could make a complete meal from this, so out of the store cupboard came out a tine of gungo peas also known as pigeon peas, as i had decided on putting a Caribbean twist on my meal tonight.
I flicked through my small collection of Caribbean food books and decided on these recipes. Aloo pies for starters and then chunky callaloo and gungo peas with plain boiled rice. What struck me about these flavours was how familiar they were to me, as some of the dishes in the cook book had South Asian influences. One of the reasons for this is that the Caribbean has a long multicultural history and naturally food has been influenced by settlers importing their cuisine and influencing the local diet.
D agreed with me that the aloo pie, a potato filled Trinidadian snack usually eaten with pepper sauce was simple and delicious, one Caribbean dish we will definitely be having again (including tomorrow for lunch as we have 4 left over). Neither of us was bowled over by the callaloo, but to be honest with you, I don’t think the tinned version of callaloo does the 'real thing' any justice, as it just tasted like any tinned greens. I think to truly appreciate callaloo you have to try it fresh, so I won’t ever be buying the tinned variety ever again. In fact, I may even try and look for some callaloo seeds and grow my own. My experiment with Caribbean flavours does not end here. I also have a tin of ackee and green gungo peas in the cupboard, so the Caribbean theme will be on the menu again. Watch this space if your intrigued.
Aloo pieMakes 6
For the pastry
225g self raising flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp oil
Pinch of salt
For the filling1 tbsp
400g potatoes, peeled and mashed
1 onion, finely minced
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
2 tsp freshly ground cumin or garam masala
1 habernero pepper, deseeded and finely minced
For the filling: Heat oil and add the minced onions and garlic and cook until translucent, then add the cumin or garam masala and pepper, cook for a couple of minutes for the flavours to infuse. Turn off heat. Stir in mashed potatoes so well combined and set aside.
For the pastry: Mix the flour, baking powder and a pinch of salt then knead with enough water to make the dough. Brush the dough with 1 tsp of oil, cover and leave to one side for about 30 minutes. Then divide dough into six balls and leave for a further 10 minutes. When the dough is ready, roll out each ball into a circle, placing 2 tbsp of the potato mixture in the centre. Then fold into a half moon shape and seal the edged by pressing with a fork. In a wide pan, deep fry each pie in oil until puffed and golden brown. Be prepared to be amazed at how these puff up in the hot oil.
Chunky callaloo – Jamaican styleServes 4
Ingredients1 tin x 540g callaloo, drained and rinsed
1 tin x 400g tomatoes, chopped
1 red pepper, diced
1 large onion, finely sliced
Salt and pepper to taste
Fry the onion in the oil until translucent, then add the peppers and cook for five minutes. Then add the tomatoes and callaloo. Cook for a further 20 minutes, adding salt and pepper to taste.
Gungo peas
Serves 4
1 tbsp oil
1 medium onion, finely sliced
1 x 400 tin of tomatoes, chopped
1 tbsp tomato puree
1 habernero pepper (gently pierced)
1 x 400 tin of gungo peas
Fry the onion in the oil until translucent, then add the tomatoes, puree and whole habernero pepper. Simmer for 20 minutes, then add the gungo peas and simmer for another 10 minutes Serve with plain boil rice. All Recipes adapted from Caribbean cookery for Vegans and More Caribbean Cookery for Vegans by Peter Mason


  1. yum!!! thanks for sharing good recepies

    just wanted to let you know that when looking at your site with the google chrome browser, the live traffic feed widget messes up your design. thats a shame.

  2. what a lovely mix of dishes. Fresh callaloo is lovely and I'm hoping to get some seed from one of my allotment neighbours.

  3. I've been looking through your blog, and having grown a garden myself, I am VERY impressed with what you've grown! You blew me out of the water:) Good work!

  4. I think you are trying to drag me out of my self induced hermit behaviour but I'm off to the allotment now so will comment on the menu later :)

  5. Thanks kontrazt,
    I don't have the google chrome browser on my computer, so am unsure what you mean when you write 'the live traffic feed widget messes up the design'. You are the first to mention it too. If I get a chance to access a computer that has the google chrome browser I will check it out. Thanks for letting me know, and I am sorry it it messing your enjoyment of viewing my blog.

    Thank Nic,
    I hope you manage to get some seeds.

    Thank you for visiting my blog Jacob and Jenny.
    And THANK YOU so much for the wonderful compliment, it has certainly made my day!

    Oh sorry Kella, but its a good thing helping you out of you self induced hermit like behavaviour - isn't it?!

    I hope you have a productive day at the allotment and I can't wait to read your comments on this menu.

  6. Hi!

    I'm sorry I'm behind on reading your blog, so this is a late post :-) I have dasheen growing all over my yard (thanks to my Jamaican neighbors)and will try to harvest some seeds and send them to you! You may not thank me once you have it taking over your plot though :-) Having grown up on mustard greens and collard greens, I think calaloo just tastes like 'greens'. We had some VERY good roti (bust-up-shot), pigeon peas and rice, bake, fried plantain, pickled spicy green mangoes, oh I could go on and on...I was in heaven. The one thing I wanted to pass on - Logan's aunty makes her pigeon peas and rice with coconut (water or milk - fresh from the tree!). The coconut lends a fantic flavor to the rice and complements the earthy pigeon peas so nicely. The pigeon peas grow wild all along the road!

  7. Wow, Leah.

    Its intersting that you describe 'calalloo' tasting just like 'greens', as that was my impression when I tsted it from the tin, but then thought perhaps the fresh variety would taste different.

    I am envious that you had some VERY good Jamaican food. I have yet to try fried plantain and pickled spicy green mangoes. I will keep in my Logan's auntys rice and peas recipe, as the next time I make rice and pigeon peas (from a can), I hope to make it with coconut water or coconut milk - from a can - not the tree! Pigeon peas growing wild along the road, now that must be a sight to see!

    PS I look forward to receiving my gift of dasheen seeds in the near future.

  8. What interesting recipes! I'm now on a mission to find gungo peas!

  9. Michele,
    Hope you fins some gungo peas, I think they are also known as pigeon peas too.

  10. I bought some Jamaican callaloo seed on ebay uk that I will be sowing late spring. The seller has more - Item number: 320456986998

  11. Thank you for sharing this FC.
    A friend of mine was going to post me some, failing that I will certainly check this out.


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