Callaloo (sometimes calaloo or kallaloo) is a popular Caribbean dish originating in West Africa served in different variants across the Caribbean. The main ingredient is a leaf vegetable, traditionally either amaranth (known by many local names, including callaloo or bhaaji), taro or Xanthosoma. Both are known by many names, including callaloo, coco, tannia, bhaaji, or dasheen bush. Because the leaf vegetable used in some regions may be locally called “callaloo” or “callaloo bush”, some confusion can arise among the vegetables and with the dish itself. Outside of the Caribbean, water spinach is occasionally used. Trinidadians and Dominicans primarily use taro/dasheen bush for callaloo, although Dominicans also use water spinach.
The Jamaicans, Belizeans and Guyanese on the other hand use the name callaloo to refer to amaranth, and use it in a plethora of dishes and also a drink (‘callaloo juice’). The ‘callaloo’ made in Jamaica is different from the ‘callaloo’ made in Trinidad and Tobago in terms of main ingredient (the leaf used) and other ingredients included (for example, Jamaicans tend to use only callaloo leaf, salt, onions, and scallions, and simply steam the vegetable, while Trinidadians use okra and coconut milk to make a different dish with a different taste and consistency).
Trinbago Callaloo Recipe
- 12 dasheen (eddo/taro) leaves, chopped
- 7 stalks okra, chopped into 1-inch pieces
- 2 Tsp salted butter
- 1/4 cup diced onions
- 4 pimentos chopped (mild pepper)
- 2 large crabs cut into quarters
- 1 (3-inch) piece of salt meat (beef or pork), cut into 3 pieces
- 1 whole scotch bonnet pepper
- 3 sprigs fresh thyme
- 4 stalks green onions, chopped (white and green parts)
- 1 chicken bouillon, crushed
- 3 cups water
- 1 cup coconut milk
- Salt to taste
Add all the ingredients, except the scotch bonnet pepper and salt to a large pot and stir to mix. Cover the pot, place on medium high heat and bring to a boil. Let cook for 15 minutes, then add whole hot pepper. Re-cover pot and let cook for another 15 minutes or until everything is cooked through and the vegetables are very soft. Remove the hot pepper and crab (and salt meat) from the pot. Use a swizzle stick or an immersion blender to puree the mixture. You can do this in a food processor if you do not have an immersion blender or swizzle stick. Taste for seasoning (salt) and adjust if necessary. Pour soup into a bowl, garnish with hot pepper and crab.
Note, that you can serve the soup by itself or add rice or dumplings, or even crab to the mix.