Hi Everyone, It’s the season of Lent and, as usual, my inbox is full of requests for vegetarian and meat-free recipes. One woman wrote to me expressing her utter frustration at how difficult it is to find Caribbean vegetarian recipes. But is this true? Maybe. I know that meat is a big part of many of our dishes. I have one friend who thinks that the meal is not finished if there is no meat.
However, there are many sides to Caribbean cooking and one thing we should recognise is that not only are there parts of our food heritage that have always been strictly vegetarian (many Caribbean Hindus are vegetarian, Rastafari are often vegetarian) but also our traditional ways of eating have often included meatless meals. If you’ve been reading this column for a while, you know that I have discussed the fact that back in the day – not so far back,I’m not that old – our weekday meals were meatless and if we ate meat it was a weekend thing.
Nevertheless, we have grown used to labels. The complex rules and fad diets that are constantly coming at us through the TV, radio, magazines, and of course the internet, often include a bunch of labels that say which food is good and we can eat it, or which food is bad and we avoid at all cost. Well, you know that I don’t actually believe in good food or bad food – everything in moderation is my mantra. Still I can see that we have grown used to labels and they can be an easy way to organise the world around us. I understand. Life sometimes becomes so hectic and complex these days that from time to time we need a quick reference guide to just help us survive. In that vein, I thought that I would list some of the foods we cook and eat often, and put them into various categories so that at-a-glance, we can see what type of vegetarian food we are already eating that might become a natural part of your Lenten fare.
The lists with foods in this column are not exhaustive and are exclusively focused on the various types of vegetarian diets. Gluten-free, wheat free, macrobiotic and the latest fad diet, the Paleo diet, are not considered here. However, you will find that some of the dishes mentioned here are gluten-free, wheat-free, vegan, macrobiotic and Paleo in composition.
Types of Vegetarians
Pescatarian – eats fish and seafood, eggs and dairy products. Abstains from eating all meat and animal flesh.
Lacto-ovo – eats eggs and dairy products but abstains from fish, seafood, and any kind of meat or animal flesh.
Lacto – consumes dairy products such as cheese, milk, yogurt etc. but does not eat eggs, fish, seafood, or any kind of meat or animal flesh.
Vegan – eats grains, nuts, fruits, vegetables and wheat; an exclusively plant-based diet. Vegans do not eat dairy products, eggs, or any other products derived from animals.
Fried Okra & Shrimp Fried Okra & Salt Fish
Fried Pumpkin & Shrimp Fried Pumpkin & Salt Fish
Fried Baigan & Shrimp Fried Baigan & Salt Fish
Fried Callaloo & Shrimp Fried Callaloo & Salt Fish
Fried Squash & Shrimp Fried Squash & Salt Fish
Fried Bora & Shrimp Fried Bora & Salt Fish
Fried Karaila & Shrimp Kalounjie (karaila stuffed with shrimp)
Curried Katahar with Shrimp Curried Saim with Shrimp
Fried Fish Stewed Fish
Curried Fish Baked Fish
Fish Kebabs Butterfish in Butter sauce
Steamed Fish Escovitch (Pickled fried fish)
Fried Salt Fish Fish Cakes (fried & steamed)
Fried Smoked Herring (or other smoked fish)
Salt Fish Choka Smoked Herring/Smoked Fish Choka
Green Bananas & salt fish Ackee & Salt Fish
Fried Squid Stuffed Squid
Snapper in Coconut Milk Grilled Fish
Curried Shrimp Shrimp in Coconut Milk
Shrimp Cakes (fried & steamed) Shrimp Fried Rice
Shrimp Chowmein Salt Fish Fried Rice
Soup with Shrimp Balls Soup with Fish Balls
Mettagee (with salt fish) Buljol (pickled salt fish)
Green Banana Salad Stuffed Crab (backs)
(Read the label on the noodle packet to see if it is made with eggs before using)
Fried Okra Fried Squash
Fried Pumpkin Fried Karaila
Fried Callaloo Fried Bora
Fried Cabbage Curried Cauliflower & Potatoes
Curried Saim Curried Saim & Potatoes
Fried Baigan Curried Baigan & Eddoes or
Curried Channa & Potatoes Curried Potatoes
Curried Breadfruit Curried Eddoes
Fried Bora & Potatoes Pumpkin & Potato Curry
Curried Katahar Vegetable Fried Rice
Vegetable Chowmein Vegetable Cook-up Rice
Boil & Fry Channa Rice & Peas
Ground Provision Soup Pumpkin Soup
Breadfruit Cou-cou Cornmeal Cou-cou
Eddo soup Doubles
Tomato Choka Coconut Choka
Baigan Choka Potato Choka
Stuffed Okra Stuffed peppers (with seasoned rice)
Khichri Potato Pizza
Dhal – made with various types of dried peas/beans and combined with vegetables such as okra, tomatoes and callaloo.
Boil & Fry Ground Provisions – as a combination of separate such as plantains, cassava and sweet potatoes.
Split-pea Soup – other bean/pea-based soups
(Pasta is in this section because the dough is traditionally made with whole eggs or egg yolks. Read the label.)
Curried Eggs Fried Plantains & Eggs
Chips & Eggs (potato) Sweet Potato Fries & Eggs
Stuffed Eggs Frittatas (Italian one-pan egg dish)
Sautéed Pumpkin & Nested Eggs Pasta with Sautéed Pumpkin
Pasta with Basil Pesto Pasta with Garlic & Oil
Pasta with Marinara Sauce Vegetable Lasagna
Breadfruit Salad Potato Salad
Cheese Pies Duchess Potatoes
Sweet Potato Salad
Corn Pie (Trini-style) Corn Soup
Macaroni Pie Cassava Pie
Breadfruit Pie Potato Pie
You may want to save these lists and pin them on your refrigerator. Add to them as you discover other recipe ideas and feel free to share them with me. Many of the dishes you can eat and serve with rice, ground provisions, roti, bakes and bread.