If ever there was a word to make you wonder what the dish would be Callaloo would be that word and that dish. Growing up in Trinidad, Callaloo is something that you had at least once a week. Traditionally we enjoy it on a Sunday, but I love it so much that I always make extra and freeze for those days when I just want another addition to my lunch.
What is Callaloo?
Callaloo is a soup type dish that is made with Dasheen Bush or Taro Leaves, that is cooked down with pumpkin, ochroes, seasonings and coconut milk. In other places, they sometimes use spinach in place of the dasheen bush, but for us it doesn’t stay the same, so we stick to using our Dasheen Bush.
How to serve it up?
Callaloo is sometimes referred to as a soup, but we in the Caribbean use it as a side dish. In our house on a Sunday we have Stewed Chicken, Callaloo and Rice or Macaroni Pie. A simple but winning combination!
But Callaloo can be served up in different ways not only as part of Sunday lunch. Some people add crab to their recipe and serve it with dumplings or provisions and sometimes it’s served as a soup. It’s one of those dishes that’s very versatile and a great way to hide veggies, (especially when serving to children!)
To say that there is one full proof way of making callaloo would be impossible. Everyone puts their own spin on the dish with their own flavourings. This is our version of Callaloo, made how my mum and my grandmother has made it for years.
Just a few Tips:
Daheen bush can make you hands itch terribly for some people. In Trinidad you can easily get the dasheen bush washed and cut in the grocery, but if you don’t have access to this feature, try using gloves to prevent your hands from scratching.
DO NOT EAT THE RAW TARO LEAVES! This is no joke! Unlike some types of spinach that can be eaten raw, Taro leaves are poisonous if ingested raw.
Addition of salted meat. In almost all of the recipes for Callaloo you will see that they add salted meat like pigtail or smoked bones. My mum makes it this way, but I don’t eat pork so I make it without the addition of the salted meat. But feel free to add a couple pieces in your pot, just reduce the amount of salt you add as the salted meat will impart some onto your dish.
The traditional way to blend the Callaloo is by using something called a swizzle stick. It breaks up the leaves and mixes all the ingredients together for a nice smooth callaloo. These days with kitchen tools like immersion blenders and stand blenders, we tend to go the modern root for blending.
Have fun and if you have any questions comment and let us know or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
- 8-10 Dasheen Leaves (about 8 Cups Freshly Chopped)
- 12 Ochroes, chopped (about 3 cups)
- 1/2 cup onion, chopped
- 1 cup pumpkin, chopped
- 1/2 cup carrot, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1/4 cup green seasoning
- 1 tsp dried thyme or 2 sprigs fresh French thyme
- 1 whole Scotch Bonnet Pepper
- 2 cups coconut milk
- 3-4 cups warm water
- Salt and Pepper to taste
- If you need to, prepare you dasheen bush leaves by washing in warm water, then removing the leaves from the ribs. Chop leaves into smaller pieces.
- Place your prepared dasheen bush leaves in large pot. Add ochroes, green seasoning, thyme, pumpkin, carrots, garlic and 1/2 teaspoon salt.
- Next add the coconut milk, then top with water until the leaves are almost submerged.
- Bring the mixture to a boil. Stir to combine then place hot pepper on top, cover and simmer over medium low for about 30 minutes until the seeds of the ochre are pink and everything is cooked.
- Remove the hot pepper, being careful it doesn’t burst. Then using a swizzle stick or blender, blend the callaloo until desired texture.
- Return to pot, season with salt and pepper to taste, then serve!
If you find your callaloo is too watery let cook uncovered stirring occassionally untild desired thickeness.