Green seasoning or seasonin’ is a blend of herbs and other aromatics and a quintessential element of
Caribbean cooking. We use green seasoning as a marinade for meats, seafood, stews, curries and put "pot-spoonfuls" into soups and one-pot rice dishes to enhance the flavor. Not only does it enhance flavor, but it's also loaded with nutrients! It is to Trinidad what pesto is to Italians and Sofrito and Recaito is to other parts of the Caribbean.
Each cook has their own unique blend which means that the flavor profile of the same dish will vary by household.
Over the years I have obsessed with the combination and quantities used and often taunted Mummy with questions, how much of this and how much of that, until one day I decided to uncomplicate my life…
I now use one bunch (regular size) each of whatever I find in my supermarket, add onion and garlic and voila---green seasoning…The green and red sweet peppers and pumpkin are newer additions and totally optional, however, those ingredients contribute additional flavor.
Many times I don’t find culantro or don’t feel like using parsley, don’t have pumpkin or sweet peppers. Other times, there may be no pimientos at the supermarket........ no problem.....
Caribbean we have a “making do” culture, that is we use whatever we have on hand. If there is only culantro (also known as bandhania or shado beni) growing in the yard and we don’t feel like going to the market, then so be it, green seasoning will consist of only bandhania, onion and garlic that day. There are also a few of us who will “borrow” a scallion or thyme from the neighbor, with no intention of returning it. That is the culture of “borrowing” in Trinidad.
[Pudina--another ingredient used in seasoning]
Green seasoning was traditionally ground daily on an "as needed" basis using grinding stones; a “seal”(pronounced sil)--a small stone slab base and “lorha”--a round stone. These were made from natural stone found near rivers. Curry powders and chutneys were also made using the seal and lorha. Then came the mill...
Now thanks to modern technology we have blenders and food processors, but one must wonder how much flavor is lost with these shortcuts.
The following list of ingredients should only to be used as a guideline. If there are ingredients in this list that don’t tickle your fancy, then leave it out. Keep in mind that the basic formula for green seasoning is:
Onion+ Garlic+Green Herb+Optional Ingredients=Green Seasoning
I never add hot peppers to my green seasoning because of my little ones, and yes, the hubbie too…Hot peppers give him hiccups…
Instead of the hot pepper, I use pimiento peppers or spanish ajicito, because of the immense flavor it adds to food without the heat. Pimento peppers are also known in
as seasoning or flavoring pepper. Many islands have their own version of it. The aji dulce or ajicito, shaped like a dented, spinning top, is found in grocery stores in Latino neighborhoods. In Trinidad and Tobago , there is a similar variety called chile cachuca. The two limiting factors in my use of pimento peppers are the cost; I usually pay $1.00 for four very small (“choongsee”) ones, and availability; it is only found in the West Indian or Asian markets. Ajicitos are more popular in my neighborhood supermarkets. Cuba
For the first year after starting this blog, I didn’t prepare any Green seasoning to store in the refrigerator because I wanted to train myself to create meals without it. I know many may have been confused if I used “¼ cup of green seasoning” in my recipes. But the time has come….pay close attention because I will be using it in some of my recipes going forward(recipes will now be a breeze to prepare), as there are a few dishes where the flavor will be lacking without the addition of the complex(in taste), profound and evocative “green seasoning”.
Ria's Trinidad Green Seasoning
4 scallions (aka green onions, also called "chives" in Trinidad)
1 bunch thyme (remove very thick stems)
1 bunch cilantro
1 bunch culantro ( aka bandhania or shado beni)
1 bunch parsley
12 cloves garlic, peeled (I increase this amount when using "optional" ingredients below)
1 large onion, peeled and chopped
1 stalk celery
6 pimento peppers, stemmed
½ red sweet pepper, seeded
½ green sweet pepper, seeded
, scotch bonnet, cherry pepper or other hot pepper, to taste congo
Wash, drain and roughly chop herbs, onion, sweet pepper, onion and any other ingredients you are using.
[Occasionally I also add a piece of pumpkin(Mummy's recommendation)..]
Place all ingredients in a blender and food processor and puree until fine. Water is not required in a food processor, but add just enough water to blend in the blender. Scrape down sides and pulse again.
Place in a glass jar, close tightly and store in the refrigerator. Will stay 1-2 weeks (sometimes I keep it up to a month in the refrigerator).
The color will vary depending on the combination of ingredients used.
Alternatively, pour into ice trays, freeze. Remove cubes, place in a resealable bag and store in the freezer, until ready to use.
Whip up a batch and experience the life altering flavors for yourself.....and say goodbye to bland, boring meals for good......!