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International Cuisine: Trinidad

| Sunday April 11, 2010 Leave a comment
Trinidadian cuisine infuses tastes from different cultures that are quite diverse for the Caribbean. It’s this mixture that makes Trinidadian food so unique.

As Trinidad is heavily influenced by Indian cuisine, there a lot of the spices found in Masala mixes including coriander seed, cumin, pepper, chili, turmeric and allspice.    

“Spices used in Trinidadian cuisine are plentiful,” says Roger Mooking, host of Food Network’s Everyday Exotic. “The rest of the flavors come from the fresh produce available all around the island.”

Herbs, plants, flowers, buds, fruits and vegetables are abundant locally and people often eat a lot of the foods that grow in their yard. A few more prominent fruits are mango, papaya, portugal (oranges), avocado, breadfruit, chenet, coconut, guava, passion fruit, pomerac, and sorrel.    

Plaintain Gratin with Pickled Topping

Trinidad is made up of a large Indian population, that brings their traditional curries, roti and daal. There is also the Chinese population that have adapted their traditional dishes in a very Trinidadian way. And finally, a large part of the population are of the African Diaspora.
“It’s safe to say a typical Trinidadian meal always has some kind of pepper sauce on the table (hot sauce),” Mooking tells ChickAdvisor. “The meal is usually served family style ‘out of the pot’. Most times there was a combination of rice, meat, fish or seafood, and some type of vegetable in there.”
Rice is usually plainly cooked. And often there is also what Mooking calls a provision – sweet potato, yam, cassava, breadfruit, plantain. These provisions make up the starch of the meal, a substitute for rice. The meat can be stewed chicken or chicken cooked down with herbs, spices and onions.

Trini-Style Chicken
“Sometimes dinner would include Callaloo, a vegetable soup made with Callaloo bush, Okra and Onions all cooked down,” he says. “The Callaloo is used more like a gravy than a soup as it tends to run all over the plate.”
Mooking, also the executive chef/co-owner of Kultura Social Dining and Nyood Restaurant in downtown Toronto, says if the dish consists of seafood, it can include curry Shrimp or crab with Cow Tongue Dumplings (so named because of their shape). Fried fish, usually king fish, is another staple of a Trinidadian dinner.

by Sandy Caetano
images courtesy of The Food Network
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