Catering to our platters – Caribbean East Indian recipes

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By Annesha Das Gupta

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 Back in 1838 when a ship full of laborers left the port of Calcutta to meander its way towards the islands of Caribbean, it not only was carrying the people of the Indian origin but also the roots of India in itself.  The culture of India was being transported to its new destinations.

And keeping in the lines of this journey, blossomed the new culinary tableau, an awe-inspiring coalescence between Caribbean and Indian cuisines.

Now to give a further taste of the gastronomy, Dr. Kumar Mahabir, a renowned anthropologist and Meera Heeralal, a degree holder in LIS from College of Science, Technology and Applied Arts in Trinidad and Tobago, have presented us with their new book – Caribbean East Indian Recipes.

In the preface of their text, the readers are orientated with the work that has been done and the recipes that had been compiled:

“This cook book represents a comprehensive collection of over 70 ‘traditional’ vegetarian recipes. They have been handed down by our fore-parents from India by word of mouth and practical example for over 4 generations. The food that is now cooked here is distinctly Indo-Caribbean’ in flavor.

The recipes reveal the secrets of preparing delicious Indian dishes, some of which are unknown to the non-Indian community in the Caribbean.

In the book “Caribbean East Indian Recipes“, the authors cover a wide range of tasty and exciting dishes, from light delightful snacks to dinner-party specials – from the various types of rotis, daahls (daals), kuchillas, chutneys, achaars, sweets and desserts to chokas and vegetable ‘talkaries.

The books also make us aware of the sumptuous dishes like that of Aloo Roti to lip-smacking chutneys and surprisingly it also includes a glossary of the Hindi words utilized while drawing out the recipes along with the nutritional values of some of the ingredients.

To buy the book from Amazon, click here

We will put in one of the Indo-Caribbean recipes for our pleasure ( both yours eyes and tummy) extracted from the pages of this book :

Preparing a tamarind chutney :-

Introduction – This sour/sweet relish is often served with snacks like aloo pie, saheena, etc. It can be used with any kind of food to enhance the food’s flavor.


  • 6/8 o-s shelled ripe tamarind.
  • 4 tsp/4*5 ml spoon minced garlic and bandhaniya (shado beni)
  • 1/6 pt/100 mls water
  • Water for sauce. (about 150-200 mls)
  • 1 hot pepper (minced)
  • Pinch of ground geera (cumin)
  • Salt to taste.


  • Rinse tamarind lightly in a bowl of water.
  • Add 150-200 mls water to tamarind.
  • Leave to soak for 10-15 minutes.
  • Mash with fingers until pulp separated from seeds.
  • Mix rest of ingredients with tamarind except the pepper.
  • Use a spoon to add pepper and mix thoroughly.


In India, raw cane sugar is substituted for brown sugar and freshly ground black pepper, finely chopped fresh ginger root and fresh lemon juice are used as addition in ingredients.

The book has reviewed by many salient professionals like academics and journalists, though most prominent of them is perhaps the one by Dr. Nalini Natarajan, an English professor at the University of Puerto Rico:

“The book is truly a testimony to the culinary tenacity of rural India’s transplanted people. It is also very user friendly, compact and accessible to all regardless of their ethnicity or nationality”.

Caribbean East-Indian Recipes, has been published by Chakra Publishing House Ltd. and can be purchased both in the West Indies and US.

To buy the book from Amazon, click here

The review has been prepared by Annesha Dasgupta. Annesha is a student of Sociology, pursuing her degree from IGNOU, Kolkata. She has a special interest in the branches of Feminism, Sexuality and Dalit Studies. Twitter: Dancingbluepen