Monday, April 20, 2015

A National Stew

Grenada is a Caribbean island nation made up of 6 islands, the largest also named Grenada. The Grenadians speak English as an official language, but both French and English Creole are spoken as a result of Grenada having been both a French and English colony. French Creole is dying out, though, as its speakers age without passing their language on to the next generation. Often called the island of spice, Grenada is famous for its nutmeg and mace as well as many other spices. Grenada produces 20% of the world's nutmeg supply, and nutmeg is even featured on their flag.

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Oil down (pronounced ile dung) is Grenada’s national dish, but it can also be found in other Caribbean countries. It is basically a coconut milk- based stew with a starch, leafy veggies, chilies, onions, and salted meat. The starch is typically breadfruit, but I had no luck finding any at Kroger. The employee looked at me like I had five heads when I asked, so I figured that it was a lost cause. I read that you can sub potatoes, yucca, or other starchy vegetables for the breadfruit. Thankfully Kroger is globalized enough to have potatoes, so I went down that route. I think I deserve bonus points to redeem myself, though, because I was able to allocate callaloo to make the leafy green portion of the stew more authentic. Salt cod is the most common meat addition. I used a lot of it when I cooked my Caribbean breakfasts. Torpedo-shaped dumplings called spinners or sinkers are frequently added to the stew. They are simple to make and fun to roll out.

 
 
Oil Down
3 cups coconut milk
1 onion, chopped
2 carrots, peeled and sliced
1 habanero chili pepper, chopped
1 tbsp oil
1 tsp dried thyme
2 tsp turmeric
2 large potatoes or 1 breadfruit, peeled and cut into 6”X 1” sliced
8 ounces salt cod, soaked overnight
1 cup callaloo, chopped
1 cup water

For the dumplings:
1 cup flour
¼ tsp salt
water, as needed

To make the dumplings, mix the flour and salt together. Add enough water to make a soft dough. Divide the dough into thumb sized balls. Roll the balls into thick snakes with tapered ends. Cover and set aside.

Heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onions, carrots, and habanero pepper. Cook for about 8 minutes, until the onions are golden. In a separate bowl, boil the salt cod. Drain, rinse, and repeat twice more. Add the cod, coconut milk, water, thyme, turmeric, and breadfruit/ potatoes to the pot. Bring to a simmer and cook for 20 minutes. Add the dumplings and callaloo, and cook for another 15 to 20 minutes, or until the dumplings are done and the breadfruit/ potatoes are tender.

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The oil down was not too bad. It certainly was not my very favorite meal, but I harbor no ill feeling towards it. I really enjoyed the dumplings (aka sinkers or spinners). One day I hope to get my hands on some breadfruit because I would love to try it out. Potatoes just are too plain. Breadfruit just sounds interesting and fun. 54 meals down, a little less than 200 more to go!

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