I appreciate the League of Kitchens for providing me with a complimentary cooking class. As I always, the opinions are my own. If you would like more information or are interested in taking one of their classes, I encourage you to visit their website.
I remember the first time assisting in Trini cooking at my Great-Great Grandmother’s house in Laventille, Trinidad. I was 8 years old and my aunt delegated my brother, sisters and I to crush split peas for the Dahl Roti. We also had to go in the backyard to pick various herbs for the meat seasoning. Although it sounds like little to no work now, it was a start to the love of my parent’s birthplace, the culture and of course the FOOD.
I learned about the League of Kitchens through a simple Google search. I’ve been receiving home delivery meal services lately and was searching for small-grouped cooking classes in the NYC area. According to their website:
League of Kitchens is “an immersive culinary adventure in NYC where immigrants teach intimate cooking workshops in their homes”
I immediately became excited after seeing they offered a Trinidadian cooking class with Dolly. Other instructional classes include Lebanese, Argentinian, Korean, Indian, Greek, Bengali, and Afghan. Classes are available for vegetarian and non-vegetarian meals 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.
I was greeted by one of Dolly’s daughters and immediately felt at home hearing sweet soca music playing and doubles being offered as a light snack. Although I arrived later than other students, I was able to jump into the demonstration of habanero peppers and herbs being blended to season goat meat that would be cut and curried later on. Trinidadian Cooking with Dolly has a vegetarian and non-vegetarian class. I chose the latter which taught students to prepare the following:
Green Seasoning – A common Caribbean marinade for meats, seafood, stews, 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 the green seasoning and peppers before stewing in a pot of potatoes, onions, saffron and curry powder for two hours until the meat was tender.
Chana and Aloo – Also known as curried chickpeas and potatoes, the chickpeas are soaked overnight and dried or used from the can and blended with culantro, curry powder, water, and saffron. (You have the choice to add pepper if you want). Everything is then 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 soooooo yummy. 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 paratha roti. This is a common food served by Trinidadians of East Indian descent during weddings, birthday parties or any special occasion.
Not only did we watch Dolly’s demonstrations, we were encouraged to assist by washing dishes, pre-washing vegetables, peeling potatoes and mangos, stirring the goat meat as it cooked and preparing the roti several times before being placed on the tawah to “buss up”. Although there were no exact measurements (a pinch, dab and handful here and there), Dolly answered our questions if there was any confusion. She shared stories about her family, life in Trinidad, her love of cooking 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 overall favorite part was being able to prepare and make the buss up shut on the tawah. First the dough is formed similarly to the bake process, but adding yeast and sitting 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 of me.