Several of you have expressed both appreciation for Petipak and dismay that the recipes have disappeared. Not being one who likes to disappoint, I repost for you here the Trini recipes that were formerly located on Callaloo. Stay tuned for more of them here on Chookooloonks - and as before, they'll be located under the category Razzle-Dazzle.
A strong urge, liking for curried foods and East Indian culture.
-- From Cote Ci, Cote La: Trinidad & Tobago Dictionary, by John Mendes, © 1986.
Once we moved into our new place, on the recommendation of a good friend, I contacted a lovely woman named Celeste to assist me with housekeeping and to watch my daughter, if ever I needed to run a few errands. Celeste is doing an admirable job, but her real gift is cooking. Once I discovered this, as any smart person would do, I decided to brazenly exploit her gift for my own benefit.
“Celeste,” I said, “I need you to teach me how to cook real Trini food. While you cook, I’m going to take notes, photograph what you do, and I may even put it all on the Internet.”
“No problem,” she said, in her usual affable manner.
So a few days ago, I got her to show me how to make a Trini classic, Curry Chicken and Dumplings. Indian food features heavily in traditional Trinidadian cuisine, and curry chicken is one of my favourites. Like most good cooks, Celeste doesn’t measure any of the ingredients precisely; as such, most of the measurements shared here are approximations. And don’t let the length of this post fool you: the wordiness is more due to my propensity to go on and on, not a testament to the complexity of the meal – it’s actually a very simple dish to make.
And so, without further ado:
CELESTE’S CURRY CHICKEN AND DUMPLINGS
What you’ll need:
- About 10 pieces of chicken
- 9 cloves of garlic (Celeste says, “De garlic is de t’ing self!” Translation: “The garlic is what makes the dish special.”)
- 1/4 large onion (or 1/2 a medium onion, or 1 small onion) chopped coarsely
- fresh ginger (We used two pieces, each about the size of a single clove of garlic)
- “seasoning” (This one is tricky. Trinidadians usually make a homemade green seasoning, which I didn’t have. Instead, we used Tony Chachere’s Creole Seasoning, which I had from the States, and it turned out fine. In the event you don’t have any green seasoning, I’m sure any commercially-bought seasoning powder – particularly if it’s “creole” – will do)
- Mild curry powder
- Vegetable oil
- 2-2/3 cup of water
- 2-1/2 cups flour
- 1 tbsp brown sugar
- 1/2 tbsp salt
- Chicken-flavoured bouillon cube (If you`re not in Trinidad, Knorr`s bouillon cubes are great, but if you are in Trinidad, clearly only Maggi`s will do!)
- Coconut milk (Either powdered or canned will do, but if using powdered, DO NOT DILUTE, but use in pure powdered form)
For the marinade:
1. Clean chicken, removing any excess fat.
2. Grate 6 cloves of garlic and 2 garlic-clove-sized pieces of ginger into the chicken.
3. Add onions
4. Add seasoning and salt to taste
5. Add 2 tbsp of curry
Mix well, and let stand for 10 minutes.
”Choonkaying” the garlic: (I have no idea what this word means. When I asked Celeste, she responded, “I eh know, aw Gaw, just choonkay!” When I asked her how to spell “choonkay,” she said, “I doh no how to SPELL it, but you go see how to DO it.”
1. Place about a “potspoonful” of oil (the amount of oil it takes to fill up a cooking spoon) in a large pot, and place on high heat.
2. Peel and flatten 3 cloves of garlic. Once the oil is hot, place flattened garlic in oil, and toast until golden brown.
3. Add 2 potspoonfuls of curry to the pot, and stir rapidly until the curry turns a cinnamon brown colour (apparently, this signals the end of the “choonkaying” process).
4. Add seasoned chicken pieces, occasionally stirring to ensure pieces don’t stick to the pot.
5. Add about 2/3 cup of water, adding it by pouring along the sides of the pot, rather than in the centre of the pot. Reduce heat to medium-low, and cover, allowing to simmer for about 15 minutes. While simmering, prepare dumplings.
For the Dumplings:
1. Mix together flour, sugar and salt.
2. Slowly add 1 cup of water, kneading constantly, until the consistency of a stiff dough.
3. Roll out into a thin tube, about 1” diameter, and cut into 1/2"-thick discs.
4. Discs are then flattened to about 1/4” thick, or, in the alternative, turned into smaller tubes, as shown.
1. Add dumplings and remaining cup of water to simmering chicken.
2. Add 1 tbsp. Brown sugar to the entire mixture and stir.
3. Add 1 potspoonful of coconut milk to the entire mixture, and stir.
4. Add chicken-flavoured bouillon cube, crumbled into the entire mixture, and stir.
5. Add salt to taste.
6. Simmer for 10 more minutes, and serve!