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Best Callaloo Recipes

Best Callaloo Recipes

Callaloo Shopping Tips

Look to specialty stores or the ethnic aisle of your supermarket to find exotic ingredients.

Callaloo Cooking Tips

For a stronger flavor and aroma, toast spices before grinding them, and only grind the amount that you need for the recipe. Keeping spices whole until needed extends their shelf life.

Trini Callaloo

Callaloo is deeply rooted in the history of the Caribbean, with origins tracing back to the 16th century, when enslaved Africans used local plant life and ready aromatics to create a masterful meal out of seemingly nothing. In Trinidad and Tobago, where I was raised, callaloo is so significant, it’s considered the twin Islands’ national dish—even without an official governmental designation. Callaloo has many variations throughout the Caribbean and its diaspora, but the one I grew up with uses taro leaves, okra, pumpkin, coconut milk, onions, garlic, and Scotch bonnet peppers. My version uses my mother’s recipe as a starting place, with a few adjustments. Because taro can be difficult to source in the States, I like to use a mix of spinach and collard greens—the latter serving as a nod to the South (my current home) and its rich Black culinary traditions. And when pumpkin isn’t available, I’m happy to sub with butternut squash, which makes for a strong, delicious proxy.

Trinidad Callaloo

A typical Sunday lunch in my beloved country consists of callaloo, white rice and stewed chicken, a piece of macaroni pie, a side of boiled ground provision and maybe some potato salad too. Yes, I am proud to say the majority of us Trinidadians layer carbs upon carbs&hellip.upon carbs&helliparguably food heaven.

Each household in Trinidad has their own version of this dish. This is my version. I think you are already familiar with my style of cooking. I try to stay away from highly processed foods as often as I can. In addition, living in New York without easy access to the &ldquoDasheen bush&rdquo leaves, I occasionally have to make some adjustments using frozen chopped spinach. The end result is just as delicious and satisfying and of course super healthy!

This callaloo is a nutrient-dense dish and contains all your vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, fiber and phytonutrients&hellipand did you know, according to the history books, the world&rsquos most beautiful women, Cleopatra of Egypt and Yang Guifei of China loved to eat okra because it is so good for the skin, hence I add up to a pound!), amongst other wonderful benefits? What are you waiting for?

I ate it everyday last week with Jasmine rice for lunch. I am capable of peculiar things like that, some things I don&rsquot get tired of. My immune system required a boost, that&rsquos all I can say in my defense. I made it again yesterday to eat all week for lunch.

My recipe below includes the measurement for chopped frozen spinach or the fresh dasheen bush leaves and offers the option to exclude meat&ndashfor my vegetarian readers!

For the carnivores like myself, you have the option and free unadulterated will to add pieces of chicken, beef, prepared salted beef or salted pigtail, crab and/or probably any other type of protein-or all of the above. If you do the latter, we should probably be best friends-call me.

Oh! Before I forget, callaloo has the consistency of a soup, but we don&rsquot eat it like a soup. We eat it as a side dish over rice. Eat it whichever and whatever way you a soup, with dumplings, rice, roti, macaroni pie.

Press Play to watch me make this recipe:


Recipe Summary

  • 2 pounds callaloo
  • 1 tablespoon cooking oil
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3 whole scallions, chopped
  • 1 sprig fresh thyme, or 1/2 teaspoon dried
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/3 cup water

Remove the small branches with leaves from the main stem and submerge the callaloo into a bowl of cold water. Let soak for a minute and remove, discarding the water. Repeat 2 more times. Finely chop the leaves and branches and set aside.

Heat the oil and butter in a medium-size skillet over medium heat until the butter is melted. Add the onion and scallions, stirring until the onion begins to soften, about 2 minutes. Add the callaloo, thyme, salt, and black pepper. Mix all of the ingredients together, add the water, and cover. Cook over medium heat until the stems are tender, about 8 minutes.

This Simple, Soulful Dish Tells the Story of My Ancestors

There are some foods you can’t un-taste. These are the dishes that inhabit a world of their own, anchoring you to a place and time in a way that’s more powerful than memory alone. For me, a Trinidadian, callaloo—a beloved dish of my twin-island home—has indeed defined my life.

Callaloo is a simple side dish made with aromatics, okra, pumpkin, and the heart-shaped leaves of the taro plant, the central ingredient. Taro is a plant species that grows wild and abundant in equatorial West Africa. During the transatlantic slave trade—from the 16th to 19th centuries—taro was frequently used in minimalist meal applications by enslaved Africans brought to the Caribbean islands as a labor supply. To this day, variations of callaloo abound throughout the West Indies. Making callaloo with taro leaves forever connects the region to the reach and realities of slavery.

In my narrow childhood assessment, I hated callaloo. My mother made it every Sunday as part of her massive lunch spread, and every Sunday I avoided it, not even giving it the respect of a “no thanks bite” that my mum would frequently ask of me. In my young unseasoned eyes, callaloo looked like unsavory, swampy green glop that had no place next to any of the desirables: tangy-sweet lacquered stewed chicken freshly steamed nutty rice cheesy decadent baked macaroni pie and fried ripe plantains so sweet and plump, I thought them candy.

As I aged, I saw how culturally significant it was in Trinidad and Tobago, but I admittedly chose not to educate myself on its salience, until one Sunday, as a preteen, I got schooled. On that day, my mother, having no tolerance for my usual quips, eviscerated my ambivalence with a side of hard truth. She highlighted that callaloo hearkens back to a time when enslaved Africans brought to the Caribbean used indigenous plant life and ready aromatics to create a masterful meal out of seemingly nothing. She made me look beyond its appearance, underscoring that what callaloo lacks in looks and finesse, it makes up for in soul and substance. She challenged me to visualize a time when our ancestors crossed the Middle Passage, bound, branded, and beaten, and reminded me that “choice wasn’t an option for slaves.” That remark moved me to reconsider some of my own choices, as a girl who had it pretty good. Then she expounded on the majesty and merits of our unofficial national dish and its place in Trinidad and Tobago’s history. I, the most talkative person in our household, fell silent. I suspect it was a silence my mother waited a long time to hear.

That Sunday, the callaloo was the first item on my plate. As I took a bite, I knew immediately it was the food I couldn’t un-taste. On that bite, I felt my cells shift into place. There was no way I can deny my identity and this unassuming green side was, unquestionably, a part of it.

Callaloo was also astonishingly delicious (a surprise that came only to me). The heavy hand of fresh aromatics—onions, garlic, culantro, scallions, thyme—worked overtime, the bold base flavors relenting slightly but never dissipating. Even though callaloo simmers for close to an hour, it still sizzled with bright bursts of fruity heat from the addition of Scotch bonnet pepper. The leaves and stems of the taro plant supplied deep grassy vegetal flavors that stayed lively and dominant. Freshly sliced okra thickens the dish, the inclusion of pumpkin gives it a honeyed heft, and the nutty-sweet minerality of coconut milk compounds the power of each ingredient. Callaloo is an equally simple and stellar dish. And one that embodies both the forever lingering tragedy of the slave trade as well as the resilience of that time.

  • 450 g salt cod, soaked overnight in water
  • 450g drained canned ackee
  • 1 finely chopped onion
  • 1 chopped red pepper with seeds removed
  • 1 chopped green pepper with seeds removed
  • Tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 chopped scotch bonnet chilli with seeds removed
  • 2 tablespoons of frying oil
  • Pinch of black pepper
  1. Heat the oil in a frying pan, then add the green and red pepper with the onion and fry for 4-5 minutes at a medium heat.
  2. Add the scotch bonnet chili and stir in.
  3. Drain the salt cod and rinse under water, then pat dry and add to the frying pan.
  4. Add the ackee and fry for 5 minutes or until both the cod and ackee are cooked. Use a wooden spoon to break the cod up during cooking.
  5. Season with the thyme and pinch of black pepper, stir and serve.
Nutrition Information:

Callaloo (Caribbean Green Soup)

Callaloo is a Caribbean dish that originated in Africa. It is typically made with amaranth leaves (aptly called callaloo in the West Indies), taro leaves (dasheen), or water spinach since these plants are somewhat hard to find in the United States, spinach is a common replacement stateside. There are many variations of this dish, and my recipe follows the Trinidadian version, which includes coconut milk and okra. In the Caribbean, Callaloo is often served as a side dish, but when I make it, it almost always turns into a main course. I’m not the type of guy that craves vegetables often, or vegetable soups for that matter, and I crave this dish. A lot.

I think I could eat my weight in Callaloo. I don’t know what it is about this dish that makes me go crazy about it. For one thing, I feel like a superhero after I eat it – like I’ve consumed a week’s worth of vegetables in one sitting. It’s also ridiculously delicious, and carries a unique flavor despite using fairly common ingredients. The only ingredient in here we don’t eat regularly is okra, since my wife isn’t a fan of okra’s slimy texture luckily, the texture is cleverly masked in this dish.

Callaloo (Caribbean Green Soup)

  • Servings: 4
  • Time: 40 mins
  • Difficulty: Easy

1 tbsp olive oil
1 med onion, coarsely chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 red bell pepper, diced
1/2 green bell pepper, diced
10 pieces okra, tops removed, sliced
1 cup chopped pumpkin or squash (if out of season use 1 can puree)
3 sprigs fresh thyme leaves (about 1/2 tsp), dried okay
1 tsp sea salt, more to taste
1/2 tsp black pepper, more to taste
1 can (about 2 cups) coconut milk
1 cup chicken broth (or vegetable stock to make vegetarian/vegan)
1 scotch bonnet or habanero pepper (optional)
1 lb fresh spinach, stems included, coarsely chopped
6 chives, chopped

1. In a stockpot or large saucepan, warm the olive oil over medium heat for a minute, then add the garlic. Sauté until fragrant, about 30 seconds, then add the onion continue to sauté, stirring often, until the onion is translucent, about 4 minutes.

2. Add the peppers and sauté until softened, another 4 minutes, then stir in the okra, pumpkin/squash, thyme, salt, pepper, coconut milk, chicken broth, and scotch bonnet/habanero pepper if you’re using it. Bring to a simmer and reduce heat to low simmer until the squash is fork-tender, about 20 minutes. Be careful to not burst the scotch bonnet/habanero pepper when stirring the soup.

3. Stir in the spinach, in batches if needed (add more as it wilts and shrinks). Simmer until the spinach is soft and dark green, about 8 minutes.

4. Add the chives to the soup, and carefully fish out the scotch bonnet/habanero pepper. Using an immersion blender or food processor, gently blend the soup until it is smooth but still has a little texture. Taste and add salt and pepper if needed.

** Instead of using two bell pepper halves, feel free to use one whole bell pepper. I just like the bit of color that comes from using half of a red bell pepper.

** If you are lucky enough to find amaranth or taro leaves, use them as directed in this recipe, but bear in mind that they’ll take longer to soften than spinach – 30 minutes should be enough time.

** Many people add meat to this dish, including crab pieces, stewed chicken, or salted pork. Typically the meat is cooked with the vegetables, fished out before you blend the soup, then shredded and returned to the blended soup.

Callaloo before blending.

How To Make Caribbean Callaloo Soup

Callaloo is a famous soup recipe that originated from the Caribbean. This delectable soup was first made by indigenous African tribes by using native plants and veggies like okra.

Callaloo has simple items like crab, chilies and coconut milk,as well as purely exotic ingredients like conch and Caribbean lobster. These ingredients are all combined together and simmered into a wonderful stew. Because of the many vegetable varieties used in this dish, Callaloo has a dark green appearance.

You can prepare this as a soup, or use it as gravy for your other favorite dishes. If you can’t find Callaloo in your garden or supermarket, then feel free to use spinach as a substitute.

Sometimes, others add meat to their Callaloo, to give it some “ooommmphhh” —That extra flavorwill definitely enhance your experience! You can add some chicken meat, salted pork or even crab meat, and cookit alongside the Callaloo leaves.

Callaloo is widely popular as a health dish. This soup isn’t just any bland-tasting health recipe, since you can be a bit creative and add a variety of ingredients to get the flavor you want.

What Is Jamaican Callaloo?

Callaloo is a staple dish in Jamaica, it is a dark leafy green. Jamaican callaloo is the genus Amaranthus Viridis not to be confused by other greens called callaloo throughout the Caribbean.

For instance, it is important to note that taro, dasheen, yautia leaves are also called callaloo in other parts of the Caribbean. Callaloo is the Jamaican version of collard greens or spinach.

The leaves are washed and peeled to remove the outer membranes of the stems, then they are steamed with seasonings until tender. Sometimes they are traditionally cooked salted mackerel or saltfish (codfish),

2 (10-ounce) bags frozen spinach

1 small winter squash (such as acorn or butternut), peeled, seeded, and chopped

2 cups low sodium vegetable stock

1 (13.5-ounce) can light unsweetened coconut milk

2 cups low sodium vegetable stock

  1. Pour olive oil in a large saucepan on medium-low heat.
  2. Add spinach, okra, squash, carrots, garlic, onion, thyme, scallions, and habanero. Pour in vegetable stock, coconut milk, salt, and pepper. Reduce heat to low and let the callaloo cook for 1 hour. Stir every 15-20 minutes to prevent food from sticking to the pan, being careful not to burst the pepper.
  3. Remove and discard the habanero pepper, then taste and adjust seasoning before serving.

(Note: If the soup is too thick for your liking, feel free to thin by adding additional water)