Recently, I posted in my “news of the week” that okras, a low-calorie vegetable, contain a lot of important nutrients, including Vitamin A for healthy mucosa and skin, Vitamin C to boost immunity and help prevent coughs and colds and Vitamin K, which helps in blood clotting. In addition, okras have been found to be beneficial in fighting diabetes, relieving constipation, lowering cholesterol and reducing fatigue. Not bad for an inexpensive little vegetable that can be found in almost every food store here in the United States.
In the Caribbean, including Trinidad and Tobago, the twin-island nation where I was born, okras are included in many recipes, the most popular being callaloo. While okras are not the main ingredient, you just don’t make callaloo without them. Callaloo is to Trinidadians what apple pie is to Americans. It is served as a soup or side dish in most homes on Sunday and can also be found in the menu of most hotels on the island. Crab is usually added for richness and flavor.
So, here’s the recipe:
- 1 bundle dasheen leaves (Substitute with 2 packs of frozen spinach if you can’t get dasheen leaves).
- 8 okras
- 1 cup coconut milk
- 1/4 chopped onion
- 1 sprig thyme
- 4 chives
- 1 sprig celery
- 4 cloves garlic
- 2 blue crabs (optional)
- 1 salted pig tail cut in small pieces (optional)
- 2 bouillon cubes
- 1 hot pepper
- 1 cup pumpkin cut in small pieces (optional)
- salt to taste
- 1 tsp black pepper
- 3 cups water
- Wash and clean crabs. Pound garlic, chop thyme, chives, celery and onion and use to season crabs. Add salt and black pepper to taste. Set aside.
- Wash pig tail, scald to remove excess salt. Rinse and set aside.
- Strip stalks from dasheen leaves. Wash and cut in small strips. If you are using frozen spinach, open packet and empty in saucepan. Wash okras, cut off tips and heads, cut in small pieces and add to dasheen leaves or spinach.
- Add seasoned crabs, pigtail, pumpkin, water, bouillon cubes, and coconut milk. Place hot pepper on top of ingredients.
- Allow to cook for about 30 minutes on medium heat, stirring occasionally.
- Remove from heat, be sure to remove pepper and crabs before swizzeling with swizzle stick or pureeing in blender.
- If you are serving this as a soup, you may add a little water to give it a thinner consistency. Otherwise, serve with rice or other main dishes and enjoy!