Friday, April 30, 2010

Currant Rolls from scratch

Currant Rolls cut diagonally

Well its election time in Trinidad, so you know what that means; lots of noisy rallies and politicians promising all sorta things. Well let me make you a promise, you will not be disappointed with this currants roll recipe. The pastry is very simple to make and it is has just the right combination of currants and sugar. It tastes sooo good, you’ll never realize you’re eating something with whole-wheat in it!

I was a little worried at first since I did ‘ratch’ the recipe having never made it before. But when two of the three currant roll logs disappeared without a trace within four hours of being out of the oven I knew I was on to something. Enjoy

Cuisine: Trinidadian
Type: Dessert 
Time: 1hr 40mins
Serves: 15
Skill: Easy
Kid Participation: Some

¾ c            wholewheat flour
2 ¼ c         white flour
150g          butter and shortening (approx 9tb) cold
¼tsp          salt
1c              or more ice cold water

1 c             currants
½ c            sugar
¼ tsp         cinnamon
2tb             butter (soft for brushing) or more
                  Sugar for sprinkling (optional)


1.    Put the wholewheat flour, white flour and salt in a large enough bowl and combine.
2.    Make sure your 150g of butter and shortening is very cold so that you can cut it into small cubes with a knife or a pastry blender.  If after you have reduced all the butter and shortening to cubes it starts to melt, place it back in the fridge or freezer to cool and becomes solid again before continuing.
3.    Try to separate the cubes of butter/shortening when you take it out the fridge and cut it into the flour until the mixture resembles peas.

4.    Pour in some of the cold water and mix adding more water until the mixture is moistened. Form the above mixture into a ball by kneading gently for a minute. Put this ball into the fridge and refrigerate for 30 mins.
5.    While the dough is in the fridge mix the currants together with the sugar and cinnamon.
6.    Divide the cold dough into three equal portions and make each portion into a ball.

7.    Roll out a ball of dough into a 30cm × 25cm rectangle and approx 3mm thick.  
8.    Brush the top of the dough with butter and sprinkle a third of the currant sugar mixture evenly leaving a 1” border.
9.    Start at the shorter end of the dough and start rolling tightly. When you finish rolling the dough into a log pinch the ends closed.

10.    Repeat steps 7-9 with the remaining dough.
11.    Grease a cookie sheet and place the logs side by side. Bake at 350° for 45-60mins. 
12.    Brush with butter and sprinkle with sugar when cool. Cut diagonally to serve.


Wednesday, April 14, 2010

History written in Brown Paper

These brown paper cone packets were common long time in Trinidad, I guess the introduction of the plastic bag changed that. My mum told me that when she was small she used to make lots of these to help her grandfather; ‘Baap’. Instead of chillibibi, my mother and her siblings would help my great-grandfather fill 200-500 of these cones with fried channa (garbanzo beans). He would then take the packs of channa and sell them for 2¢ each at the two Cinemas in Penal; the Regent which was an English Movie Cinema and the Sunbeam which showed Hindi films (or as we say in Trinidad ‘flims’)

According to my mother my great grand father ‘Baap’ was just a baby when he arrived in Trinidad from India with his parents (my great-great grand parents). They came to work as indentured laborers in the sugar-cane estates and as you can guess; since I’m still in Trinidad, they stayed.

So you may be wondering what prompted this jolt back into the 1960’s? It was the chillibibi more specifically the paper cones they used to be packaged in. When I asked my mother how to make the cones, she also told me the above story (again). Thankfully my dad did not hear the conversation or I would have been treated to the “When I was small I had to go tie the goat on the hill at six in the morning before I go to school” stories

You’ll need:
A sheet of Brown Paper


1.    Cut the brown paper into a rectangle. You can start with a 14cm × 10cm rectangle to practice. I found this size suitable for the chillibibi but if your filling is channa you'll need a bigger size rectangle.

2.    Hold the left bottom corner with your left hand and use it as an anchor while you twist the bottom right corner to form a cone. Try to tighten the cone to about a 2cm diameter at the top; the paper should go at least twice around. This is to ensure that your filling does not spill out, especially if your filling is chillibibi.

3.    To secure the cone shape twist the bottom of the cone like the picture on the left.

4.    Fill the cone leaving at least 1cm from the lowest edge of the cone. Fold the higher edge over first so that an excess piece folds vertically as shown. This is important because this ensures that your filling does not fall out. 

5.    Fold the two (left and right) sides in and then fold the last edge on top. It’s done!

Copyright © 2010 Chillibibi   All Rights Reserved

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Chillibibi, a taste of the good ole days

 Remember going dong by de parlor dong de road or the old lady selling next to yuh school and buying chillibibi in a brown paper cone for 25¢? Well if yuh older than me yuh wouda buy it fuh less, like a few cents.
Those were de days, when yuh couda buy seven palourie for 25¢, a sunshine cheese balls fuh 25¢, tambrand balls, nutcake, sugar cake… Okay ah kinda gone off course deh, back to the chillibibi.

So it goes like this, ah was tinking bout chillibibi Friday evening and so ah ask meh fadda how to make it. The conversation went like this
Me: Daddy how yuh make chillibibi?
Meh Fadda: Yuh does have to Patch the corn and then grind it and add the sugar

“Great” I thought “Piece ah cake” WRONG! It sounding so simple eh, but in practice, well that’s a different story. Getting the corn kernels off the cob was easy but the ‘patching’ (roasting) of the kernels was frustrating as I had to turn the kernels every few minutes for about 40 minutes! I really doh know how this used to be selling for 25¢ because it’s downright gourmet. Now I get why I doh see it selling anymore. 

My dad also told me that my agee (grandma) used to add condensed milk to the chillibibi and make it into balls he called ‘satwa’. In the end, my chillibibi sent me back to my primary school days in ‘Vedic School’. I hope when you try this recipe it does the same. It’s worth the effort.If you're not from Trinidad  and you're wondering how you eat chillibibi you drop some in your hand and lick it. It's really made for kids. 

A note of caution, (thanks to a comment by Hisham) who reminded me, putting too much chillibibi all at once in your mouth is dangerous and can cause suffocation. Put a little in your hand and lick it slowly.

Cuisine: Trinidadian
Type: Dessert 
Time: 1hr 40mins
Serves: *15+
Kid Participation: Some

2c     corn kernels (Mature corn)
¾ c    brown sugar

¼ - ½ c     condensed milk (optional) (¼ c to 1c chillibibi to make ‘satwa’)

1 tb           unsalted butter



1.    Separate the corn kernels from the husk by sliding a teaspoon in between a row of kernels and then moving the teaspoon backwards to force the kernels in front off the husk. Once you’ve done a few rows you can either continue using the spoon or you could use your fingers to pry the kernels loose a row at a time. I found using my fingers was easier once I used to teaspoon to open up a space between the rows. 

2.    Once you’ve got the kernels, check for any loose corn silk strings AND discard them.
3.    Place kernels in a heavy bottomed pan on low heat. Stir every few minutes to brown evenly and prevent it from burning for about 40 minutes. This is what my agee calls ‘patching’. It will start to suspiciously give off an intoxicating popcorn smell but it will not pop (**unless you’re trying to use popcorn to make chillibibi, I don’t recommend it). Once all the kernels have turned browned (See picture above) pour into a bowl and cool. 


4.    Grind the browned corn in batches as fine as you can in a food mill or food processor. I sifted the corn after I ground it because it seemed grainy and what was left in the sifter I put through the mill again and re-sifted. 

5.    Once you’ve got the corn at a texture that you’re pleased with add the sugar according to your taste. This is what we in Trinidad call chillibibi. You can serve Chillibibi in brown paper conical packets as shown in picture above.
6.    If you want to make satwa with some of the chillibibi add the condensed milk (¼ c condensed milk to 1c chillibibi) and the butter until the mixture is moistened and then roll into lime size balls. This is what my dad calls ‘satwa’.

  • Corn has to be mature, having dried on the stalk, not young corn that you boil or roast.
  • See post History written in brown paper for instructions on making the conical brown paper packets for the chillibibi.
*    It depends on how you portion it out. You really only eat small amounts of chillibibi.
**     My dad says the corn used to make chillibibi is different from the one used to make popcorn.

    The addition of the condensed milk to the chillibibi is something that the East Indians in Trinidad would do. This makes me wonder about the origins of Chillibibi. I asked my dad and he didn’t know, he just knew that when condensed milk was added to the chillibibi and made into balls he called it ‘satwa’. 

    Copyright © 2010 Chillibibi   All Rights Reserved


    Wednesday, April 7, 2010

    Trini Cassava Pone

    Cassava Pone Slice garnished with Coconut and Cinnamon

    My dad emerged from the back yard today carrying a large cassava root he had just dug up! One word, actually two words popped into my head; Cassava Pone.

    Cassava pone; sweet gooey, who knew cassava could taste this good! I normally don't care much about cassava but when it's made into this I can't get enough. It's quite an unusual desert, not quite light and spongy like a cake but dense and moist. For those of you who've never had this, its quite a desert and very simple to make, and very hard to get wrong. 

    The only problem in the making of this is the cassava itself. It spoils easily so as soon as the cassava was peeled, cut up and washed I took a portion to make my Pone and the rest was chucked into a plastic bag and put into the freezer. My cassava was white but if your cassava is black please discard it as it will be poisonous. This was my first attempt at pone making with the help from my mum and dad and the result was very close to my agee's (grandmother).

    Cuisine: Trinidadian
    Type: Dessert 
    Time: 2 1/2 hrs
    Serves: 16
    Skill:  Easy
    Kid Participation: None

    1 1/2 lb        cassava (3 c grated fine)
    1/4 tsp         cinnamon
    1/8 tsp         cardamon (elichee) optional

    1/2 lb            pumpkin (1 1/2 c grated fine)
    2 c                grated coconut
    2 c                brown sugar
    3tb                butter
                         Water (less than 1c)

    1. Peel and wash cassava. Grate as fine as possible or alternately you can cut into chunks to put into a blender.  

         2.   Repeat step 1 with the pumpkin. Put the cassava, pumpkin, coconut, cinnamon, cardamon, butter, sugar and some water in a   bowl or blender and mix. You need to add just enough water to bind everything. (Less than 1c)
         3.   Grease and flour two circular pans and pour the cassava mixture to about 1" depth in pan. Bake in a preheated 350 oven for 1 1/2 hours till golden on top.  

    Copyright © 2010 Chillibibi All rights reserved   


    Tuesday, April 6, 2010

    Quickie Salad for the hungry

    Quickie Salad

    So I was real hungry and I wanted something to eat quick. I've made this quick salad with dressing before. I usually don't like dressings I find in recipe books; they're too sour for my taste. I just made this from scratch one day and it turned out fantastic. I added mustard to this one which I don't usually use but it gave the dressing a very appealing color, at least to me. So if you're in the mood for a quick healthy snack this one is for you. I had mine with a cup of tea. 

    Salad dressings are not a normal occurrence in Trinidad cooking unless you count potato salad. We in Trinidad usually put only salt, black pepper and probably some hot congo pepper in our salad. Otherwise we take fruits such as mango, add a lot of pepper and call it 'chow', but that's another post. I was at a bank in Trinidad recently where a TV was showing the Food Network. A chef was making a garbanzo (channa) and beans salad with a salad dressing and the old Trinidadian lady sitting next to me commented that "Ah goh never eat that, how dah goh taste!" All joke aside I'm sure you'll enjoy this salad whether you're Trinidadian or otherwise.

    Cuisine: Foreign
    Type: Savory snack 
    Time: Less 30mins
    Serves: 2
    Kid Participation: Some


    1 tb          apple cider vinegar
    3 tb          extra virgin olive oil
    1 clove    garlic minced
    1/2 tsp     hot congo or bird pepper chopped fine 
                     or chilli powder
    1 tsp        sugar or honey (put to taste)
    1 tb          fresh or dried basil or parsley or other green herb chopped fine
    1 tsp        capers (optional)
    1/4 tsp     mustard (optional)
    salt and black pepper to taste

    1        apple cut in chunks
    1        cucumber cut in chunks             
    1/2     onion cut in slices
    4        slices cheddar cheese broken (optional)
               any other vegetable you prefer such as tomato or lettuce

    4         bread slices toasted

    • Chop up garlic, congo pepper and herbs
    • Pour vinegar into bowl and whisk in olive oil slowly until incorporated.
    • Add rest of ingredients and mix. This is the dressing.
    • Cut up vegetables and put into a suitably large bowl
    • Toss with salad dressing. 
    • Spoon some over the bread and Enjoy!

        • You can vary the amount of vinegar. I do not like mu dressing sour but if you do you can add more vinegar and omit the sugar or honey. 
        • You can add salt to the dressing or you can omit it if you have people whose diet requires less salt and put salt in the vegetables instead. 
        Copyright © 2010 Chillibibi  All rights reserved     


        Friday, April 2, 2010

        Hike to Brasso Seco Waterfall

        Brasso Seco Water-fall
        On  Friday I had the opportunity to hike with a group of people. It has been such a long time since I'd hiked anywhere so I jumped at the opportunity and I did not regret it. The hike was not difficult and with the trail one way taking less than an hour it was not uncomfortably tiring. 
        I think the pictures speak for themselves. 
        Blanchisseuse Road

        Beginning of Trail

        "Trinidad Original Evergreen Seasonal Forest Still Exist in this Area"

        The trail is wide and shaded and up to a certain point due to it's width a 4-wheel vehicle can assess it. However there comes a point where a small river has to be crossed and from this point the trail gets to about 3ft in width and is on the side of a hill. At this point it can only be trodden by foot.

        View from bottom of Waterfall

        Flower along trail

        Another view of falls

        The entire waterfall is pictured above. The water was icy cold. There was a shallow pool (2-6.5ft) pool at the base of the falls and you could also have climbed on the ledge of rock right under the fall and feel the tumble of water directly on you!
        Copyright © 2010-2014 Chillibibi   All Rights Reserved

        Thursday, April 1, 2010

        Trinidadian Kurma, indian sweet

        Kurma is my absolute favorite Indian sweet, I've made this so many times from scratch for years so in honor of my first real post I'm presenting this recipe for kurma. This sweet is of Indian origin although I'm not sure if you went to India right now and asked for kurma you'd get this; you might quicker get something savory. My ancestors came to Trinidad a very loooong time ago so that might explain the kurma mystery. This sweet indulgence is usually made for Divali or special occasions such as weddings or prayers but it can be found throughout the year in Trinidad. Stripped down, its essentially sugar coated fried dough so whats not to love! It's yummy and dangerously addictive, you will never eat just one!.Yum yum yum yum yum :)

        Cuisine: Trinidad Indian
        Type: Sweet snack 
        Time: 2½ hours 
        Serves: 15 (or less :P)
        Skill: Medium Difficulty 

        Kid Participation: Some

                Deep heavy pot for fryimg
                Griddle or 9” tawah or large 9” frying pan
                Flat surface for rolling out dough or a chowkee
                Rolling pin or belenah
                2 Large bowls
                Small pan for sugar syrup  

        4 c                flour
        3 c + 2tb      water (or coconut milk, in which case
                             do not use coconut milk powder)
        6 tb              coconut milk powder (optional)
        2 tb              ghee or unsalted butter (optional)
        4+ c              vegetable oil for frying

        Pag (Sugar Syrup)
        2 ½ c         white sugar (can use brown sugar will taste great but look all brown)
        ½ c            water
        ¼ tsp         cardamom (elichee) powder (optional)
        1/8  tsp      ginger powder or 1”  piece of fresh ginger bruised (optional)
         1/8  tsp     cinnamon powder or a stick of cinnamon (optional)


        Well made for wet ingredients    Dough after being kneaded     Dough cut into four pieces
        • Sift flour into a bowl and make a ‘well’ in the middle. This is for the wet ingredients. Mix the coconut milk powder if using with ½ c of the water that has been warmed and then mix this into the rest of the water.  
        •  Pour half the coconut milk (or water) and all of the ghee into the well made in the flour and start to incorporate into the flour adding more of the coconut water until the dough is soft. You ideally should use all of the coconut water but use more or less, or add more flour until you get the dough to be soft.
        • Flour a clan surface or a chowkee and place the dough on it and knead for a few minutes until soft and springy.
        •  Light the stove with the griddle/tawah/skillet.
        •  While the tawah (griddle/skillet) heats up separate the dough into eight pieces. (The amount of pieces depends on the size of tawah, griddle or skillet you have.) Take each piece of dough and knead it for a few seconds so that it becomes round.
         Rolling out dough             Dough rolled out                 Dough on hot tawah
        • Take dough off the surface and place on hot griddle/tawah. If the griddle is not hot enough the dough will stick. Leave for about a minute and then turn over and heat the other side for another minute. You are not trying to cook it, just toasting it enough so that it holds its shape when you are cutting it into strips.
        • Repeat steps 6 and 7 with the rest of the ball of dough.

                         Dough toasted               Cut strips of dough       Strips fried              
        • Heat a heavy deep pan with the vegetable oil for deep frying. Drop a small piece of dough into the oil as a measurement. 
        • On a cutting board or a chowkee if have, place the circular dough and cuts in three strips. Then take each strip and cut into ½” strips. Repeat with rest of dough.
        • When the first piece of dough that was dropped in earlier starts to sizzle, start dropping a batch of the ½” strips from step 10. Cook until they are golden brown and drain on absorbent paper.

        Pag being heated                   Kurma fried golden                Drops of pag hardened
        • At this point combine in a small pan the pag (sugar syrup) ingredients and place on low heat. 
        • Continue frying the rest of the dough while keeping an eye on the sugar syrup. The syrup should be ready when a few drops of the syrup when stirred with a spoon on a cool surface starts to turn white and harden. If this happens before you are finished frying all the strips of dough take the syrup off the heat.
        • You can coat the fried dough all at once in a large bowl or in two batches in a smaller bowl. In the latter case you can do half of the dough with half of the syrup while the rest of the dough fries if the syrup is ready. To coat the dough, place in bowl and drop syrup on top. Then you stir like crazy until the sugar starts to turn white and crystallize and harden. You’re done when all the sugar has hardened.
        • Grab a handful and enjoy, but be warned if you have company over, the next time you reach for some, it might be all gone.  

         If this had whetted your appetite for East Indian sweets made in Trinidad or if you are curious about Trinidadian cuisine and all its variety you can check out the Naparima Girls Cookbook. It as the name suggests was made by the Naparima Girl's High School to raise funds for the school and it remains one of the most comprehensive collection of Trinidadian food to date. Everyone I know in Trinidad has one (including me) and I highly recommend it.

        • Kids can help roll out the dough. You can cut the dough into longer strips after it's been toasted and kids can shape the longer strips into different shapes or letters. These unusual shapes can then be fried and frosted by an adult.
        • Do not put the sugar syrup on high heat or you will burn it.
        • You can drop a glob of the syrup on a cool surface and if you have heat resistant fingers like me you can poke your fingers into this, get some on your index finger and then rub the syrup between your index and thumb to test it's stickiness. If the sugar hardens within 5 seconds the syrup is ready.
        • You can either have crispy kurma or chewy kurma depending on how you fry the dough.
         Copyright © 2010-2014 Chillibibi All Rights Reserved



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