Here we have my favorite Indian sweet with a Caribbean twist, goolab jamoon. The fragrant, rich dough is heavenly. It’s the second sweet that I learned make from my mama *grandmother*. Now I’ve visited a couple Indian restaurants in the US and whenever I order the goolab jamoon I get something totally different! It’s these round balls soaked in syrup. Which leads me to believe that the recipe must have changed on its way to the Caribbean from India.
Nevertheless both are deliciously sweet and I can easily eat them all in one sitting 😂😂
1 cup butter
4 cups flour
1 tsp ground cardamom
1/2 cup powdered milk
1 can condensed milk
1/2 cup evaporated milk
1 cup oil for frying
2 cups white sugar
1 tsp grated ginger
4 cups water
1. Rub butter into the flour, cardamom and powdered milk until crumbly
2. Add the other milks to the flour and knead lightly to combine. * Or use a food processor with dough blade*
3. Form almond shapes about 2 inches long and deep fry until golden brown
4. Boil sugar, ginger and water to a thick syrup (it should spin a thread when the spoon is raised)
5. Pour syrup over the fried goolab jamoon and stir continuously until the sugar crystallizes .
Let me start off by confusing you! This dish isn’t actually made with peas, it’s made with beans, red beans, also called kidney beans! Are you still there? *crickets chirping* PERFECT! I love Jamaican rice and peas, with jerk pork or jerk chicken or escovitched fish and fried plantains with a side of festivals *a sweet fried dough*.
I’ve had a lot of exposure to Jamaican foods. I worked at JAMWEST Caribbean foods for a while and the best part was getting to eat all the delicious food everyday and listening to Jamaican Patois that I could barely understand, and listening to stories from Chef Patrick while he cooked corn meal porridge :). It was truly amazing watching the giant pots of rice and barrels of jerked meats being cooked, and that rum cake from Miss Verona was so divine. Oh and how could I forget about the patties, and fresh juices and hiding in the walk in fridge to ‘sample’ dishes and getting locked inside hehehehe. Good times!
Here’s a much smaller recipe for rice and peas
8 ounces small dried red beans or 8 ounces red kidney beans
1 quart water
16 ounces chicken broth or 16 ounces chicken stock or 16 ounces water
1⁄2 cup coconut milk
2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
1⁄2 teaspoon ground allspice
2 scallions, finely chopped
1⁄2 cup white onion, chopped
2 minced garlic cloves
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 1⁄2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 scotch bonnet pepper (left whole) or you can slice it if you want lots of heat!
1 teaspoon brown sugar
2 1⁄4 cups uncooked long grain rice
Rinse and sort beans and place in a stockpot.
Cover with several inches of water and soak overnight,-or- bring to a boil, boil gently for 3 minutes, then remove from heat, cover, and allow to sit undisturbed for 1 hour.
Drain and rinse beans.
Bring to a boil with chicken stock, water, and coconut milk.
Cover, reduce heat, and simmer for 1 1/2-2 hours or until beans are tender and creamy.
Add the thyme, allspice, scallion, onion, garlic, scotch bonnet, brown sugar, uncooked rice, salt and pepper.
Check the level of liquid over the rice and make sure there is at least one inch of liquid (if not, you may add water or broth to cover).
Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer for 20-30 minutes or until rice is tender.
Serve hot as a side dish.
For vegetarian,use water not the chicken broth or stock.
I served the rice and peas, along side jerk pork, which is cooked pretty much the same way as jerk chicken and a tropical salsa! Put some calypso music on in the background and I felt like I was back at home 🙂
Dhal, a staple in Trinidadian cooking. We make this dish alongside curries or to be eaten alone like a soup or with roti *flat bread*. It’s healthy, flavorful and filling.
So funny story, when I was a teenager I was a bit rebellious *What? Really?! No way!*… I know, hard to believe right!? Anyway, my mom was forcing me to learn how to cook and I wanted no part of it, so I was throwing a hissy fit about cooking dhal and deliberately doing it wrong so she would just get mad at me and shoo me away. Well….she didn’t and I got a pot spoon thrown at me and she made me count each grain of dhal *split peas* in the package! Ever since then I’ve hated dhal and refused to make it! *Yeah! I’ll show her!!*
Years later, I’m pregnant and craving dhal and I didn’t know how to make it! According to Caribbean superstition, when you get pregnancy cravings and you don’t satisfy it, your child will be born with a birthmark shaped like what you were craving! And I was not about to have a child with a dhal birthmark on his head! 😁
Luckily my sister Giselle was visiting me and she is the best dhal maker I know *Yeah! Take that mom!!*, so I paid close attention and wrote down this recipe. I like my dhal not too thick and not too runny, just in the middle.
1 cup yellow split peas
2 1/2 cups water
7 grains garlic
1/2 onion chopped (medium)
1/2 habanero pepper ( keep whole if you want the flavor and not the heat)
1/4 tsp saffron powder
2 pimento peppers finely chopped (or you can use jalapeños)
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 tsp whole geera (cumin)
1. Soak split peas for a couple hours and drain.
2. Boil 2 1/2 cups of water and then add the peas.
3. Add the 5 garlic grains, onion, peppers and saffron powder.
4. Let boil until peas are very soft and tender.
5. In a small pan, heat oil and add 2 grains garlic and geera, let it brown over low heat.When the garlic is brown, carefully pour the oil mixture into your split peas. (This process is called chunkaying)
6. Whisk the mixture or puree until smooth and add salt to taste (about a tsp)
TIP: If your dhal is too thick you can add hot water until you get to your desired texture.
SHHHHHH!!! You can’t tell anyone about this!..*comes closer*… Do you want to know why Caribbean food always tastes sooooo good??? Well I’m going to tell you but you must promise to never share! Ok?! Excellent!… I trust you!
It’s this! Green seasoning! We all make it, everyone has their own variation, there’s never an exact measurement, you know you’ve got the right amounts of ingredients by a certain smell! Once you know it, you’ll remember it forever! I just can’t explain it!
Green seasoning is used on meats, fish, vegetables and even for a body scrub *ok maybe not a body scrub…really don’t do that*.
My preferred blend includes;
cilantro (shadow benny/ bandania is used in the Caribbean, cilantro is in the same family)
congo/ scotch bonnet/habanero pepper
lime or lemon juice
Then you blend it together until smooth and store in the fridge. Use this pesto looking mixture to marinate meats, fish and vegetables for incredible flavor! So go on! Grab an islander and have them tell you if you’re on the right track! 🙂
That salmon was such a jerk but he sure tasted good! hahahaha… what… you don’t get it? It’s ok, it’s an inside Caribbean joke. Nevermind! Ha!
Jerk is a style of cooking native to Jamaica in which meat is dry-rubbed or wet marinated with a very hot spice mixture called Jamaican jerk spice. Jerk seasoning is traditionally applied to pork and chicken. Modern recipes also apply jerk spice mixes to fish, shrimp, shellfish, beef, sausage, lamb, and tofu. Jerk seasoning principally relies upon two items: allspice (called “pimento” in Jamaica) and Scotch bonnet peppers. Other ingredients include cloves, cinnamon, scallions, nutmeg, thyme, garlic, and salt.
It really is so simple to do! My preferred brand of Jerk Marinade is called Walkerswood. You can get mild *no true Caribbean person with self-respect ever buys mild!* or the hot and spicy! You slather the marinade on and let it do its thing for a few hours or overnight, if you dare and then you grill or bake over a medium to low heat until finished. Let it rest a bit and then prepare your taste buds for the spicy, savory, melt in your mouth goodness *insert Homer Simpson drool* Easy peasy!
Sometimes the best dishes have the fewest ingredients, and it’s certainly the case with this dish! After working all day in the cane fields, this is what my grandfather always wanted to eat. At first I despised that smoky fishy smell, but as I grew older *and was forced to eat it enough times*, I started to appreciate that smoky fish smell and the pungent long-lasting flavor.
Imagine my surprise when my 4 year old walked into the kitchen when I was cooking this and said ” MMMMMM what’s that deliciousssss smell?!?.” He has to be out of his little mind!
When I bake cookies, he says nothing, cakes, nothing, pies, nothing…smoked herring and he goes crazy! Maybe he has some of my Caribbean roots after all!
All you need for this dish is some left over rice, sliced onions, habanero pepper *if you’re feisty*, and some smoked herring that’s been soaked to remove some of the salt and chopped into little pieces.
Heat a little oil in your frying pan and saute onions, pepper and smoked herring. Toss in your rice and let it warm through. Easy peasy right?
This is my very first post and I’m so excited! I’d like to thank my friends for supporting and encouraging me to spread my wings. You are all amazing! I can’t wait to let you see the madness that goes on in my mind 🙂