So what is Calalou? It is not exactly a dish that can be easily found on Miami restaurants’ menus. It is a simple, warm, and nourishing soup that can be made at home.
Calalou (also spelled callaloo, calaloo, or kallaloo) is either a soup or a stew made with okra and dasheen or spinach leaves. There are many variations of callaloo, including ones that include coconut milk, crab, conch, Caribbean lobster, meats, chili peppers, and other seasonings such as chopped onions and garlic.
Calalou 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, and the thought of calalou 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 learned how to make calalou 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, I used spinach used instead. The consistency is a bit different, but 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. You can add 1 cup of diced tomatoes if you like, totally optional.
Put all ingredients in a pot and cover with water. Boil for ½ hour and keep checking the liquid levels and adjust if getting too dry. For soup, put in a blender and process until smooth. For the stew, leave as it is and serve as a side dish.