xmlns:fb='http://www.facebook.com/2008/fbml' CWR'S Trinidad Chow

Sunday, March 11, 2012

CWR'S Trinidad Chow

Chow is a simple, refreshing combination of fresh fruits, garlic and culantro. Consider it a "spiced up" fruit salad.

[Culantro, also known as bandania or shado beni]

The desire for chow is linked to our obsession with hot peppers and fresh herbs, which are the flavors that distinguish Caribbean cuisine. Aside from eating the whole fresh fruits, this is probably the healthiest snack we eat. With the right combination, chow satisfies our taste for sweet, sour, salty and spicy all at the same time. There isn’t a more exciting way to get your daily servings of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants..

[best enjoyed while relaxing in a hammock ;-)]

It is quite normal to assume that people of a warm tropical climate would consume more cold products....but instead we gravitate toward eating spicy foods and snacks. This is actually a natural response to the environment. The capsaicin from the peppers makes us sweat which cools the body down; nature’s air conditioner!

Some people report a “high” when eating hot peppers. This is because the pain from the heat also signals the body to release endorphins which are natural painkillers.  [That explains why there are so many happy people in TnT.] Considering this addiction, it is appropriate and not surprising that the hottest pepper in the world comes from our Island.

Another reason why this dish is so popular in Trinidad could be the availability and abundance of fruit on the island. For many, the ingredients are a few steps away in their yard--or the neighbor's...(see pic below).

[Someone tried to impress me by climbing up a pommecythere tree. Did he not notice that it was hardly two feet off the ground? lol ]

I love my chow super-duper, Moruga scorpion pepper hot. The joy of eating chow goes beyond the delicious, mouth-watering combination of flavors.  I love the sweat-inducing-thrill of the heat overtaking my mouth. My senses. My sanity (the little I have left)…..which leaves me clamoring for an antidote to soothe the pain. I administer the antidote. Wait. Get temporarily relief and repeat the process until the chow is done or I can no longer physically bear the torture, whichever comes first...If this is the “high” they refer to, then call me an addict.

[the antidote on stand-by--sweet rice aka rice pudding]

If you don’t have an affinity for all things spicy, don't be discouraged. The heat can be adjusted to your preference or eliminated entirely. If you do this, please refer to it as merely a “seasoned fruit salad”. :-)

I was excited to hear from a friend in Trinidad that her office had a “Chow Q”. An event where employees brought their favorite version of chow to compete for various titles. Wish I could have been there....

Chow can be prepared with half ripe mangoes, oranges, tangerines (called portugals in Trinidad), cucumbers, tomatoes, pommecythere (also called golden apples), chennet, pommerac, green "Trini" plums, tart green apples or unripe peaches. I have also heard that pineapples can be used and is now a hugely popular ingredient in chow. Use whichever fruits are available and create your own exciting combination.

This recipe only serves as a guideline, please increase or decrease the ingredients based on your preference.


4 cups prepared fruits of your choice
6-8 large culantro leaves, finely chopped or minced
2-3 garlic cloves, grated, crushed or minced
Hot pepper to taste, sliced or minced --- eg. habanero or scotch bonnet
Salt, to taste
Lime juice, to taste [optional]

Mince or finely chop culantro and hot pepper.
Crush or grate garlic. [pics not shown
[ In Trinidad, we call portugals, "puttigal"...don't ask me why ]

 Peel fruits, if required

Stop! Don't eat it yet!

OK, one bite won't hurt....[I speak from experience..]

Cut into bite sized pieces

In this chow, we used portugals, sliced cucumbers and tomatoes.

Season to taste with minced culantro, hot pepper/s, garlic and salt.

 Oh boy, this looks so good...!!!

Toss all ingredients together....and enjoy!!!

I'm curious...what fruits/veggies do you use to make your chow...and how hot do you like it? :-)

With spicy love,


saradipity said...

I absolutely love chow, sadly, I don't have it as often now as I did when I lived in Trinidad, however, when the craving for chow hits me, I make myself some pineapple chow (notice I say myself, nobody else in my house brave enough to eat the extra hot, hot, hot chow I make). Thank God for Asian stores in the PNW where culantro is readily available and always fresh and though I might be missing out on the gorgeous Moruga Scorpion peppers or tasty scotch bonnets, the habeneros that I fined out here give you a decent heat though without the fruity flavors of our Trini peppers. So to answer your question, my favourite fruit for making chow at the moment is pineapple and I like it with lots and lots of hot peppers, garlic, culantro, black pepper,salt and lime juice.

TY for sharing Ria.

Magz said...

My pineapple chow is a real favorite - while I love a green mango chow, my pineapple chow is a crowd pleaser. I love a medium hot chow - but when I make a chow for a crowd I tone down the heat so that all can enjoy - but it must have some heat or I refuse to make it! I have made chow with almost every single vegetable or fruit because once I get a craving I use whatever is on hand!!!

Cooking with Ria said...

Hi Sara, thanks for stopping by and commenting! I depend on the Asian markets here for the culantro and hot peppers too! Luckily, we have many of them on Liberty Ave in Queens where we can find almost all the products used back home! Wish I could send you some peppers!

Cooking with Ria said...

Hey Magz, I love chow made with half ripe mango or half-ripe-green plums, even though I haven't had the latter in probably two decades! What vegetables have you used??? I have never tried making pineapple chow..unbelievable I know...but I bought one this weekend and I'm going to give it a try soon! Can't wait! Thanks for leaving a comment! Xoxoxoxo

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