I received a complimentary cooking class from the League of Kitchens for my review. For more information on the sponsored post and/or affiliate link policy, please click here.
My first experience with Trini cooking was at my Great-Great Grandmother’s house in Laventille. It was my first time visiting Trinidad and Tobago and my great aunt delegated my brother, sisters, and I to crush split peas to make Dahl Roti and pick herbs from the backyard for meat seasoning. Although it sounds like little to no work now, it was a start to the love of my parent’s birthplace, Caribbean culture, and traditional Trinidadian food.
About the League of Kitchens
I’ve been receiving home delivery meal services lately and in an effort to cook more, I searched for Caribbean cooking classes in NYC. This is how I found the League of Kitchens. According to their website, League of Kitchens is “an immersive culinary adventure in which immigrants teach intimate cooking workshops in their homes”
After seeing the list, I was excited to find a Trini cooking class offered less than an hour away and immediately enrolled. Other in-home cooking classes include Lebanese, Argentinian, Korean, Indian, Greek, Bengali, and Afghan. Classes are available for vegetarians and non-vegetarians and there are two types of workshops offered. Immersion classes give 3 1/2 hours of hands-on instruction, a light lunch, and a detailed instructional pamphlet. Taste of classes includes 1 1/2 hours of instruction with a light meal and instructional pamphlet.
Making Traditional Trinidadian Food with Dolly
The Trini Cooking class that I took with Dolly has a vegetarian and non-vegetarian class. I chose the latter which taught students to prepare traditional Trinidadian food such as:
- Trini Green Seasoning – A common Caribbean marinade for meats, seafood, stews, and curried dishes to enhance the flavor. We blended parsley, thyme, culantro (shado beni), cilantro, scallion, and garlic during the class.
- Curry Goat – We seasoned the goat meat with green seasoning and peppers before stewing it in a pot of potatoes, onions, saffron, and curry powder for two hours until the meat was tender.
- Curry Aloo & Chana – Also known as curried potatoes and chickpeas. The chickpeas are soaked overnight and dried or drained from the can and blended with culantro, curry powder, water, and saffron. (You have the choice to add pepper seasoning). Ingredients are placed in the pot and cooked until the potatoes are tender and the mixture is thick.
- Mango Chow – A personal favorite. This recipe is quick and it is tasty. It uses 5 ingredients: the culantro and habanero pepper seasonings, salt, green seasoning, and of course mangos. If mangos aren’t your preference, chow can be made with pineapples and strawberries too (try it).
- Dahl – A simple meal of seasoned split peas that can be served over rice or with roti.
- Buss up Shut – Also known as buss up, buss up shut, or paratha roti. This is a common food served by Trinidadians of East Indian descent during weddings, birthday parties, or any special occasion.
Trini Style Cooking Demos
When attending this Trini-style cooking class, I immediately felt at home hearing the sound of soca music playing and doubles being offered as a light snack. I quickly jumped into the demonstration of blending habanero peppers and herbs to season the goat meat to be cut and curried later on.
We watched Dolly’s demonstrations and were encouraged to assist in the cooking. Whether it was washing dishes, pre-washing vegetables, peeling potatoes and mangos, stirring the goat meat as it cooked, or preparing the roti, everyone took part. There were no exact measurements (a pinch, dab, and handful here and there), but Dolly answered our questions if there was any confusion.
Dolly shared stories about her family, life in Trinidad, her love for cooking traditional Trinidadian food and migrating to the US. We even took a mini field trip to the local grocery store to purchase ingredients used and other spices mentioned during our class. When returning to her home, Dolly also gave a bonus mini instruction on preparing tamarind sauce from scratch since I requested some for my doubles earlier in the day.
My favorite part of the class was being able to prepare and make buss up shut. First, the dough is formed and sits for about 30 minutes. It is then rolled into a cone-like shape and rests again before being rolled and floured on a board. Finally, the dough is placed on the tawah. After applying oil and flipping on each side, you ‘buss’ or break it up with two large wooden paddles.
After sharing pictures with my mother, she said my family in Woodbrook (in Trinidad) would be proud. I appreciate the League of Kitchens for providing me with a complimentary cooking class. If you would like more information or are interested in taking one of their in-home cooking classes, I encourage you to visit their website.