So what is Callaloo? It is not exactly a dish that can be easily found on the menus of Miami restaurants but it is a simple, warm and nourishing soup that can be made at home.
Callaloo (also spelled calalou, calaloo or kallaloo) is either a soup or a stew that is made with okra and dasheen or water spinach leaves There are many variations of callaloo which may include coconut milk, crab, conch, Caribbean lobster, meats, chili peppers, and other seasonings such as chopped onions and garlic. Callaloo is widely known throughout the Caribbean and it originated in this region. Each Caribbean island has its own version but the kind that makes my belly happy is the one Lera Fortune makes, one of the best cooks in Grenada.
I was feeling nostalgic last week and the thought of callaloo soup kept haunting me: a cup of that delicious brew would make everything better. After placing a call on Skype, I got Lera and asked her for the recipe.
Lera learnt how to make Callaloo from her mother and she gave me the following formula for preparing a simple version that can be either a soup or a stew, the difference being whether you blend it or not. As dasheen leaves are not easy to find in Miami, spinach is used instead. The consistency is a bit different and it still makes a smooth and satisfying soup.
Take 2/12 cups of spinach and cut it up finely, 4 okras (top, tailed and chopped), one onion (chopped), garlic cloves (chopped, as many as you like), seasoning peppers or 1 green pepper (chopped), 1 can coconut milk, salt to taste.
Put all ingredients in a pot and cover with water. Boil for ½ hour and keep checking the water levels and adjust if getting too dry. For soup, put in a blender and process until smooth. For stew, leave as it is and serve as a side dish.
* Callaloo Leaves photo source : http://www.mooseyscountrygarden.com/gardening-articles/samoan-garden.html