National Dish: Crab & Callaloo
Trinidad and Tobago... the Land of the Hummingbird. It is the Sourthern most Caribbean Island(s) and is situated just under seven miles north of the coast of the South American Country of Venezuela with a population of about 1.3 Million, these islands are yet other example of bounteous biodiversity that almost seems common in the Caribbean!
Originally named 'Lëre' by the Arawak peoples of the Caribbean, this name translates as the 'Land of the Hummingbird' and was renamed by Christopher Columbus to 'La Isla de la Trinidad' or 'Trinity Island', and that is the name that stuck.
The Food of this twin island nation which is Trinidad and Tobago is as diverse as its population! It's population is made up of a mixture of South American and Amerindian heritage, Southern Asian Countries as well as African and even Arabian heritage. It really is one of my favourite types of Caribbean foods! All of these different influences bring something to the table (sorry - couldn't resist!) and so various dishes that you may expect in India or Chinese cuisine have a presence in Trini Cuisine...which of course means their food is incredible!!!
Here's my top three favourite dishes from Trinidad & Tobago:
This is a personal favourite of mine and what's not to like? A prime example of Indian-influenced cuisine, curried chickpeas (and remember, I love curry!) are wrapped in a fluffy and lightly spiced flatbread...absolute heaven in the mouth! The bread is known locally as 'Bara' and the filling is referred to as 'channa'. Usually it is topped with all, or some of these ingredients: a hot sauce, tamarind, various chutney's, herbs or perhaps pickled vegetables, it all depends which street stall you get it from and what you like to have on your doubles!
At Myristica, we were inspired to keep the flavours of this beautiful street food and make a canapé version. We made a traditional bara dough and lightly fried them to fill with the channa and topped it with tamarind, cucumber and coriander. As one of our more rustic canapés this plays homage to the fun that street food offers. A small and yet beautifully balanced mouthful that gets you in the mood for the dishes that follow...as shown below.
A beautifully filling iconic one-pot creole dish made from pigeon peas and either chicken or beef along with coconut milk, ginger, garlic, onion, tomato, parsley, carrots and various herbs & spices...and finished with burnt sugar...SO good when you are on the beach! This dish has its roots with Paella which has then been adapted (and in my opinion bettered!).
Iconic to Tobago is Curry Crab! If you are a crab lover you will love this dish. Crab is just one of those seafoods that pair so beautifully with curry that it only seems right that the island of Tobago refers to this as its national dish.
Cleaned crabs are marinated in curried spices and are cooked slowly with tomato and coconut amongst other fragrant ingredients. Once those fantastic smells hit you as the bowl is served up that's when you get involved with fingers and everything sucking the delicious crab meat from the bones! It’s messy and takes time to enjoy but it's worth it!
We love this flavour combination so much that we were inspired to create our signature canapé from this dish. To save the time for you as the diner we pick our crab meat and marinade it in curry spices while binding it into a curry and coconut mayonnaise. We then fill a crisp pastry cylinder (Here’s where you imagine it’s like a crab leg, just edible and more tasty) with this pure curry crab meat and add a tang with a refreshing hit of citrus gel. We’re often told by our guests that they could happily have an entire bowl of them which makes us proud to know that we represent this fantastic one pot dish well!