Celebrating Indian cuisine

Curried chicken. Photo courtesy Verune Sookhai -
Curried chicken. Photo courtesy Verune Sookhai -

On Tuesday we celebrate Indian Arrival Day. This day celebrates the arrival of the first indentured labourers from India to Trinidad on May 30, 1845, aboard the Fatel Razack.

This ship brought a new labour force to assist in the economic development of the island and a new people with a new culture that would forever embed itself in the historical landscape of this twin island republic.

The Indian immigration to Trinidad lasted from 1845 to 1917, during which time over 140,000 Indians arrived. The journey was long and arduous and the living conditions were deplorable. After leaving the ship they were fed, rested and sent off to one of the many estates to begin a new life.

They did not leave their homeland with many possessions, some say that they brought with them spices, rice and two types of animals. The water buffalo for hard labour and a type of humped cattle that provided milk for their beloved yoghurt and butter that was made into ghee.

The dried spices we are familiar with like coriander, cumin, turmeric, cinnamon, fenugreek, cloves and mustard seed were ground and made into curry. These rich spice blends have evolved through the years to the distinctively delicious curry that, have become indigenous to our islands. Our East Indian flavours have permanently woven a place in our culinary tapestry. Today TT cuisine is a marriage of all our influences and know no boundaries, a typical TT diet will include foods from all of our ancestral influences.

What will you cook on Indian Arrival Day?

Paratha (buss-up shut roti)

Paratha - Wendy Rahamut

For the dough:

4 cups all purpose flour

1 tbs butter, softened

1 tsp salt

4 tsp baking powder


6 tbs softened butter or ghee

To cook the paratha:

4 tbs vegetable oil

4 tbs melted butter or

8 tbs melted ghee

Combine flour with one tbs butter, salt and baking powder.

Add enough water to knead to a very soft dough, cover and rest for 30 mins.

Divide dough into 8 pieces, form each piece into a ball. .

Roll out each piece of dough into a 6 inch round , place about ¾ tbs butter onto dough and spread to the ends..

Cut the dough into half from the middle of the top edge, leave a one inch uncut portion at the base. Starting from the top right hand side portion, roll the dough all the way to the bottom and up the left side. Your dough should resemble a cone, tuck the end under. And them push the pointed part into the dough, flatten slightly and rest for a further 30 minutes.

Combine butter with oil.

Lightly flour a surface, roll each piece of prepared dough into a 10 inch circle and cook on a hot baking stone, turn, brush with oil, turn again brush with oil, cook until it balloons or bubbles on the surface then remove this should take about 3 to 4 minutes in total.

Beat the roti with your hands or a wooden spatula to break and flake.

Makes 8.

Serve with any curried dishes.

Curried chicken

1 3½ lb chicken cut into small pieces

2 tbs Trini herb seasoning paste (chives, thyme, garlic)

1 tbs wine vinegar or lime juice

salt and freshly ground black pepper

3 tbs curry powder

1 small onion, sliced

2 tbs vegetable oil

1 tsp chopped ginger

1 tsp chopped garlic

1 hot pepper, seeded and chopped

¼ cup water

2 tbs chopped chadon beni (optional)

Marinate chicken in herb paste, vinegar, salt and black pepper.

Heat oil in large sauté pan or large iron pot, add ginger, garlic and onion.

Stir add hot pepper, sauté until fragrant and onion is tender.

Combine water with curry powder, stir.

Add curry paste to pot and let it cook, stirring well until most of the water has evaporated.

Now add the chicken pieces one at a time, making sure you stir well to cover the chicken with the curry.

Cover pot and let chicken release some water, stir if chicken appears to be sticking add only a small amount of water at a time to prevent sticking. Continue cooking in this manner for about 30 minutes. When your curry sauce in the pot seems to be slightly separating from the oil, your chicken is ready. this may not happen but after 30 minutes your chicken should be ready.

Taste and adjust seasonings.

Sprinkle with chadon beni, and serve.

Here are some traditional Indian culinary terms and their translations:

Baigan - eggplant

Aloo - potato

Damadol - tomato

Dhal - split peas

Naariyal- coconut

Bhaat - cooked rice

Tarkaree - cooked vegetables

Ghee - clarified butter

Bhandhania:- chadon beni

Carailli - bitter gourd

Karipole - curry leaf

Dhal gutnee - swizzle stick



"Celebrating Indian cuisine"

More in this section