Saturday, May 15, 2010

Cheesy, Creamy, Yummy Macaroni Pie

Yeah, for those of you who’ve never been to the ‘teensy weensy’ Caribbean islands of Trinidad and Tobago, you may be a little confused why I’ve listed this pasta dish as a Trinidadian concoction. Well even I wonder why! I just know that macaroni pie is something every body does make in Trinidad. You’ll find macaroni pie in eateries everywhere along the length and breath of this sunny twin island republic usually as a sidekick to fried rice, stewed or baked chicken, stew red beans and callaloo, with some ground provisions thrown in. Makes you feel hungry doesn’t it?

It’s as to be expected with cheesy gooey delights a favorite of adults and children; I am huge fan as well. But then I can happily eat pasta and pizza every day of the week. In my last life I suspect I was Italian and one day I hope to dedicate a year to chomp my way through Italy’s culinary attractions. 

Macaroni pie is not your run-of-the-mill macaroni and cheese, its sooooo much better. The top is crusty and golden caramelized cheesy goodness while the insides are macaroni laced with a heavenly melted creamy cheesy sauce! So so good…

I’ve been wondering how this reached our white sandy shores. Was it the Americans with their base in Chaguaramas in the Second World War? Was it some unknown Italian who came and changed our culinary landscape forever and disappeared unknown into history. Or was it some nameless trini cook who made this hallowed discovery when pondering what to do with the long hard strings of dough that is macaroni? We might never know, but whoever it was, we are eternally grateful.

A word about ingredients: use 100% durum wheat macaroni as this will not be gummy when boiled. I used Swiss Macaroni but you can use any brand you prefer The cheddar cheese we get in Trinidad I don’t know if that is available in the US as my aunt always asks family who are visiting her in the US to bring a few blocks since she can’t find it there. The one I used did not have a brand name. You can use Anchor cheddar cheese as we get that brand in Trinidad or I guess any other cheddar cheese will do. I used normal, ‘Stay-fresh” milk (now Nestle), not evaporated milk; the milk does get creamier when the sauce boils down but you can substitute a little evaporated milk for some normal milk. I did not want it to taste too milky but you’re free to use more if that’s more your thing.

I present to you Trini Macaroni Pie. Beware its quite addictive.

Cuisine    Trinidadian
Type        Side-dish, Starch,
Time        30 mins Prep + 45 mins cooking
Serves    15


400g/14.1oz        pack macaroni (100% durum semolina)
3 tb                       Butter (room temperature)
5 tb                       flour
3 c or more         cheddar cheese grated
4 c                        milk (normal or evaporated or a combination)
¼ tsp                   ground black pepper
1 ¼ tsp                Salt (extra for salted water)
1 tsp                    Sugar
1tsp                     vegetable oil


1.    Put a large pot of well salted water to boil. Add macaroni when the water starts to boil and add oil. When the macaroni is cooked but firm drain and reserve.

2.    Grate the cheese. Measure out the milk and have ready.

3.    Heat a large pot on low heat. Mix the butter and flour together and add to the pot. Stir until the flour smells cooked and not raw. This should take about 5 minutes but be careful not to burn. Once the flour is cooked start adding milk a ½ c at a time while whisking so that there are no lumps of flour. Continue whisking until all of the milk is added. Mix until the mixture thickens. This will take about 10 mins or less.

4.    Mix in salt, sugar and black pepper and take off stove and cool sauce for a few minutes. Take 2c of the cheese and add a little at a time while mixing to melt into sauce. Add macaroni and mix well to coat with sauce. Add ¼ c of cheese now and mix gently.

5.    Pour into a greased circular pan or a rectangular pan. Top with rest of cheese or more if you like.

6.    Bake at 350 for 45 mins. You can broil on low for 5 mins if you want the top golden.

Copyright © 2010 Aruna Ria   All Rights Reserved


Monday, May 10, 2010

Coconut Chutney, how my agee does make it

Coconut chutney and Aloo-pie on a banana leaf

“Vote for me, I will not disappoint. I guarantee total gastronomic satisfaction; dem odders eh have notin on me. I is the only one with a smoky disposition and a serious spicy undertone. I could take de heat and with all dis fuss about de environment I can boost of being green….ish. I am a team player, I doh go it alone, whether I working with aloo pie or kachorie or even pholourie I am a hit wherever I go. Try me with some dhal and rice and you’ll see what I mean. So vote for me; coconut chutney, I am the king of chutneys, tamarind and mango is only pretenders, I am the real contender” That was an unpaid culinary announcement. The views expressed may be exactly the views of this blog.

So with all the electioneering going roung, ah was in a politicking mood. Is just two weeks again before Trinidad’s 41st General Election and I hope that we make it there without any violent or ugly incidents. I don't tink so though, Trinidadians are in general a peaceful people, unless you raise the price of a doubles or try to cancel Carnival. 

Coconut Chutney garnished with Bandania
Coconut chutney is really vying for my vote as my favorite chutney with tamarind running a close second. This recipe is how my agee used to make it long time. She used to grind it with this massive stone mortar and pestle. It was a massive 15’’×20’’ stone with a concave indentation on the top and a smaller oblong stone which she used to do the grinding. I think she got it from the beach or a river. I wish I had one of those but I had to make do with a blender. The main drawback of the blender was the exorbitant amount of water required to get it to blend properly which sometimes gives a watery result. With the mortar and pestle my agee has you get everything even the bandania ground really fine giving the chutney a green ting and you don't require a huge amount of water to achieve this.

This version of coconut chutney is very versatile as it does not contain any exotic spices and so can go with any type of cuisine. I’ve seen other coconut chutneys recipes on the net and in cookbooks but they don’t do what my agee does which is roast the coconut. The roasting brings out the fabulous warm earthy aroma of the coconut, it’s really fantastic. It makes the whole house smell yummy.

Cuisine    Trini-Indian
Type        Condiment
Serves     20 (makes 2 ½ c chutney)
Skill          Easy
Time        40 mins


1 ¾ c         coconut diced into ¼ “ cubes (about 1 ¾ of a whole coconut)
7 cloves    garlic chopped coarsely (so would not stick in blender blades)
4                congo pepper (or whatever hot pepper you have) chopped
1 ¹/8 tsp    salt
15-20        leaves bandania (can subst curry or mint leaves) chopped
1 ½ c         water

The heat of this chutney I would say is medium. You can add more pepper if you want it hotter or less if you prefer a milder chutney.


 1.    Cut your coconut into two with the blunt edge of a knife. Separate the white coconut flesh from the hard brown outer shell. You can use a knife to do this but be careful not to cut yourself.

2.    Try to flatten the pieces of flesh so they are not too curved as this will help them get evenly roasted. Roast the coconut on both sides on a stove top until there are dark brown patches but do not burn to a crisp. Some parts may catch fire but that’s okay, just put it out and continue. When you are done you can scrape out the really burnt bits. When done chop coarsely enough so that it will not get stuck in the blender blades. 

3.    Chop garlic, bandania and pepper. 

4.    Drop the coconut, garlic, bandania and pepper into the blender and pulse until everything is minced. If you like this consistency you can add salt to taste and you’re done. 

5.    If you prefer a more soupy consistency add the water a little at a time and blitz until you get the consistency you like. Add the salt and blend. Pour into a bowl to serve.   

Copyright © 2015 Chillibibi Food Blog   All Rights Reserved         


Thursday, May 6, 2010

Sada Roti, hot off the tawah

Sada Roti is a daily staple in the Indian Trinidadian diet. Sada roti for breakfast with some fry aloo, sada roti for lunch with curry bodi, sada roti in the after noon with bhaji, or tomato choka. Let’s just say in my lifetime I’ve eaten a lot of this flat bread.

It’s a very simple recipe and does not keep well hence the reason I added the yeast and a little butter. It tends to get dry if made in the morning and kept till lunch. The traditional recipe is very similar to India’s chapatti although Sada roti is bigger in diameter, thicker and contains baking powder but the cooking process I suspect is the same. The traditional thickness of sada roti is around ¾’ but you are free to make it thinner if you like, just adjust the cooking time accordingly. Right off the tawah sada roti is fragrant, spongy and delicious. I recommend eating it hot off the tawah, with a little butter.

My first experience with making sada roti probably occurred when I was about five or six when I begged my agee (paternal grandmother) to let me beleh (roll out) the loyah (ball of dough). I was only allowed two rolls of the bilnah (rolling pin) that time. Later when I was a little older I was allowed to finish the rolling process I ended up with square roti instead of the perfectly round ones my agee made. The cooking of the roti was another hurdle requiring much experience and skill to produce the soft, ‘puffed’ result which was produced by a process called ‘saykaying’.

Its been years since then and if it’s one cooking skill I can attest to have mastered thanks to my agee it is the cooking of sada roti. Before we begin you must have a tawah (round griddle) or a griddle and a rolling pin (bilnah).

Cuisine: Trini-Indian
Type: Bread
Time: 1hr
Serves: 4-8 
Skill: Easy
Kid Participation: Some 

2 c            white flour (or 1 ¼ white flour plus ¾ c whole-wheat)  
2 tb           baking powder
¾ -1 c      water, as needed

You can safely omit these:
¼ tsp         instant yeast (optional)
¼ tsp         sugar (optional)
1  tb           butter (optional)


1.    Mix the flour, baking powder, yeast butter and sugar if using in a bowl.

2.    Make a well in the centre of this mixture. Add a half cup of the water and mix with your fingers, adding more water as needed until you have a ball of dough.

3.    Knead the ball of dough on a flat floured surface or a chowkee for about 5 minutes until you have smooth elastic dough, sprinkling more flour if the dough is too sticky.

4.    Leave the dough to rise for 30 mins. 

 5.    Cut dough into two pieces and knead each piece into a ball. Leave to rest for 15 mins. Turn on the heat under the tawah or griddle.

6.    Take one piece of dough and roll out into a round flat shape 
of approximately ¼ ‘ thick on a chowkee or flat surface. You do this by rolling the dough, flipping it over and rotating it and repeating. Sprinkle flour if necessary to prevent sticking while you roll out the dough with the rolling pin. (bilnah)

7.    Check to see if the tawah or griddle is hot. If it is not hot enough the roti will take too long to cook and if it is too hot the   roti will get too stiff and will not swell.

8.    Put the roti on the hot tawah and wait until you see some small ‘bubbles which should be after a minute. Flip over at this point and leave for less than a minute. Then pull the tawah halfway off the burner. Pull the roti over the burner and rotate it over the fire quick enough so as it does not burn but slow enough so that it gets enough heat to that it starts to swell. Do not worry if it does not swell, it will still be delicious. 

9.    Flip over and repeat until the entire roti swells. This is called ‘saykaying’

10.    Take off tawah and wrap in towel to keep warm while you roll out and cook the other loyah (ball of dough).  

11.    Cut into quarters to serve. If your roti swelled you have a nice little pocket to fill with yummy things like fry aloo, bygan choka, curry channa and aloo etc. Or alternately you can eat it like we do in Trinidad by tearing a piece of the sada roti and scooping up some talkari or choka. Enjoy  

•    If your roti does not swell it may be because the tawah is too hot and the roti had gotten too hard.
•    Use the flat end of a large pot spoon (or if you have a dabla) to flip over the hot roti. Use a cloth to rotate the roti when saykaying if your hands cannot stand the heat.
•    Don’t worry if you end up with a square roti, it takes practice to get it to be a circle.

Copyright © 2010 Aruna Ria  All Rights Reserved



Related Posts with Thumbnails