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Sunday, May 1, 2011

What Is Calaloo?

By Webiny Lumshway


Calaloo is a unique and flavorful type of vegetable soup made mainly from taro leaves. In addition to taro leaves, though, calaloo contains an assortment of other vegetables. Finished calaloo is a dark green in color, very thick, and wholesome. The dish is enjoyed widely in the Caribbean and calaloo recipes vary from island to island, and household to household. The dish is also an important part of the culture of some islands. For instance, in Trinidad and Tobago calaloo is traditionally prepared and enjoyed on Sundays for lunch. It is usually served as a side dish accompanied by a macaroni and cheese casserole and baked chicken. On Sundays, there is a 99% surety that in the thousands of homes around the country, families can be found sitting down to a lunch of this meal.

What is calaloo made of?

It is a notable fact that every housewife gives her own signature flavor to her calaloo. Therefore not all calaloo is created equal. The special touch is added either by the addition of special ingredients or by using some unconventional cooking method. However, all calaloo has the same ingredients at its base. The basic ingredients of calaloo are as follows.

Taro leaves. These are the leaves root crops, particularly one called dasheen, and give the calaloo its dark green color. In fact, taro leaves are also know as "calaloo bush" in many islands.

Okras. These provide the prized slipperiness of the finished product.

Pumpkin. There's no special reason it's in there, it just is. Everyone adds it out of tradition and no one has ever though to leave it out.

Coconut milk. This adds a wonderful Caribbean flavor and smoothness to the taste.

Fresh herbs and peppers. These include chives, thyme, onions, garlic and hot peppers which provide the wonderful flavor of the dish. Lavish seasoning is an integral part of Caribbean cuisine and calaloo is no exception to the rule.

Additional optional ingredients often include crabs and other meats for flavoring but can be anything desired. Some people even put vegetables like carrots in their calaloo; it's really all a matter of personal preference and choice.

How is calaloo made?

Now, preparing calaloo is actually remarkably simple. All the ingredients are chopped up and put into the pot at once. Then they are boiled until they are reduced to a mushy mass. At this point salt and a bit more coconut milk are added to taste. Then cooking continues for a short while more. When it is all cooked, the mush is put into a blender and pureed. The result, a thick, smooth, dark green liquid, is delicious table-ready calaloo.

Webiny Lumshway

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