Trini breakfast with a taste of the East

This is a little trifecta of veggie dishes that are super popular in the Caribbean for breakfast served up with some sada Roti (almost like a flat bread or pita) or some form of bread. These are my favourites! I don’t limit them to breakfast. I make these often and they are great for lunch and snacking and whenever. Delicious and full of flavour. One of my favourite ways to eat the eggplant one is on a piece of bread with a slice of cheddar and then the eggplant choka spread on top. You get salty and smoky and creamy all in each bite!! So good!

Choka


The tomatoes and eggplant choka’s, as they are described here are prepped a little different then the okra. The name gives away how they are prepared. Choka refers to dishes that are made with vegetables or dry-cured fish, roasted or fire-roasted which gives them their unique smoky flavour.

Don’t have an open flame? That is totally fine. You can grill the veggies too or as I often do, you can also broil them in the oven. Methods are described in the actual recipes below.

The okra takes a bit of time to prep just because you want to get it nice and crispy without the sliminess. So when I make this fry okra I just prep it from the night before. It’s so worth the prep especially if you love okra and are looking for a recipe besides gumbo or callaloo that includes it. In fact if you don’t like okra for the slime factor this might be the best way to have it because it’s crispy and flavourful. It also goes well with salted fish if you wanted to add some protein to the dish.


Choka


These are super simple to make and so satisfying. These dishes are also perfect for the vegans and vegetarians in your life! The flavours are all very simple too, yet full of flavour and a deep smokiness to them. The veggies are definitely the stars of the dish and the other flavourings just help them shine a little brighter.

These are more than just dips or spreads they are Caribbean staples albeit they have Indo roots which have filtered through. They are so simple to make you absolutely must try them! You will really love them!

Choka


Tomato choka


Ingredients

  • 6-8 tomatoes
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 onion chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic chopped
  • 1 pimento pepper (alternatively some hot pepper or 12 tsp of chilli flakes)
  • 1 tbsp chopped chadon beni/cilantro
  • 3 tbsp of Olive oil or coconut oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions

  1. Grill tomatoes until charred all around rotating them often- or broil them in the oven and then set aside for them to cool enough to handle

  2. Once cool enough to handle peel them and put them in a mini chopper or processor and pulse once or twice or mash them by hand with a fork (trim ends if needed) then set aside in bowl

  3. Heat oil in a small pan to medium and add the cumin seeds and sauté until they are darker in colour and fragrant

  4. Add the onion and pimento pepper or hot pepper/chilli flakes, chadon beni and sauté for another couple of minutes until the onion has softened and then add the garlic and continue to sauté everything for another couple of minutes

  5. Pour all the ingredients and oil from the pan into the bowl with the tomatoes and mix with a fork until well incorporated and season with salt and pepper to taste.

  6. This and the other two recipes also go well with roasted garlic so feel free to roast garlic and add (frying the garlic is just quicker)

Baigan (eggplant) choka


Ingredients

  • 2 medium sized eggplants
  • 3-4 cloves of garlic sliced
  • 3 tbsp of olive oil or coconut oil
  • 2 pimento peppers sliced (or some chopped hot pepper or 12 tsp of chilli flakes)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions

  1. Grill the eggplants whole until completely cooked inside approx 15min or cook in the oven at 350 degrees F sliced in half on a baking sheet sliced side down for approx 30-40 min or until fully cooked depending on the size of the eggplants (eggplant will look deflated and skin wrinkled) - set aside to cool enough to handle - you can also make slits into the eggplant and slide in the cloves of garlic into the eggplant so they roast together with them.

  2. Once cool enough to handle, scrape the meat or flesh of eggplant in a mini chopper or processor and pulse once or twice or mash them by hand with a fork then set aside in bowl

  3. Heat oil in a small pan to medium and add the pimento pepper or hot pepper/chilli flakes and garlic and sauté for a few minutes until the garlic starts to turn slightly golden.

  4. Pour all the ingredients and oil from the pan into the bowl with the eggplant and mix with a fork until well incorporated and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Fried Okra (ochro)


Ingredients

  • 10-12 okra
  • 1 onion chopped
  • 1 pimento pepper (alternatively some hot pepper or 12 tsp of chilli flakes)
  • 4 tbsp olive oil or coconut oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Brining liquid ingredients

  • 2 tbsp salt
  • 12 cup vinegar - white, apple cider or red wine

Directions

  1. In a bowl salt the untrimmed okra and pour over the vinegar and let them soak for 30 minutes to an hour this helps keep them firm and reduce the slime factor

  2. Rinse and dry them

  3. Trim the ends off of then cut into 12 inch pieces

  4. Lay them out on a baking sheet to dry completely for 1-2 hours or I usually leave them over night and this will ensure that your okra will be extra crispy and not slimy when they are fried

  5. Heat oil in a small pan to medium and add the onion and pimento pepper or hot pepper/chilli flakes and sauté for a couple of minutes until the onion has softened and then add the garlic and continue to sauté everything for another minute or so

  6. Add the okra and let them sauté without disturbing too much so that they have a chance to crisp up. Mix them occasionally and continue to sauté until they are golden and crisp

  7. Drain as much of the oil off as possible and then season with salt and pepper

Choka