Trinidad and Tobago is well-known for its rich culture and incredible food with African, Indian, Creole, Chinese, European, and Middle Eastern roots. The flavors are amazing and there is something for everyone. So, here’s a quick list of the most popular Trinidad food.
By the way, some names for the food and ingredients are based on the cultures that introduced it. For instance, channa is Hindi for chickpeas and chadon beni is French for culantro.
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The internet is wrong in saying the national dish of T&T is callaloo. It’s not! We don’t have a declared national dish but, if we did, doubles would be the national dish of Trinidad and Tobago. It is the most popular street food and breakfast.
Doubles consist of two soft baras (which are turmeric-colored, deep-fried, flatten dough) and channa (or chickpeas which is cooked in a well seasoned sauce). Toppings like sweet sauce made with tamarind and mango, pepper sauce, chadon beni (culantro) sauce, cucumber and coconut chutney are also added on request.
A good doubles with sauces can hit the sweet, salty, sour and bitter taste elements required to have a truly enjoyable eating experience. That’s why it is a favorite Trinidad food. Here’s my doubles recipe and check out this local foodie’s video:
2. Bake and shark
Bake and shark is another incredibly popular and beloved fried street food in T&T. It’s a favorite at Maracas Beach on the north coast of Trinidad, but you can find vendors in Port-of-Spain, San Fernando, a few other small towns and in Tobago.
The bake is a flattened deep fried dough that puffs up in the oil and is especially soft and fluffy (you can try my fry bake recipe here). The shark is well seasoned with Caribbean green seasoning, citrus, and pepper, battered and also deep fried.
3. Sada roti
A breakfast favorite, sada roti is a simple, round flatbread made with flour, baking powder, salt and water. The roti is usually cooked on a tawa (flat cast iron griddle) and hopefully puffs up while cooking (check out my recipe here).
Once cooked, sada roti is cut into halves or quarters and served alongside chokas (roasted vegetable dishes like tomato choka and baigan (eggplant) choka, curries (like curry bodi (long beans)), fried aloo (potato) fried plantain, bhagi (spinach), zaboca (avocado) and more.
Buljol is a classic Trini breakfast side dish made with salted fish (like pollock) and veggies. The salt fish is boiled to remove the salt, drained, shredded and the bones are removed. Veggies like onion, pimento peppers, bell peppers, tomatoes, and fresh herbs are sauteed separately before the boneless shredded fish is added to the pot.
Pelau is a lunch favorite and is often served alongside coleslaw, salad, avocado slices, and more. It is a one-pot dish made by browning sugar in oil before adding well seasoned meat (usually chicken). Once the meat is cooked until dry, rice, pigeon peas, veggies, coconut milk, water, fresh herbs, pepper and butter are mixed in and cooked until there is no water left.
Sometimes a scotch bonnet pepper is placed whole in the liquid and removed when the pelau is done. If the pepper bursts in the pot though, the pelau will be extremely bitter.
Oh and everyone has their own preferences on how moist or how dry the pelau should be… It’s an ongoing debate… I’m definitely team wet pelau!
6. Crab and callaloo
Blue land crabs and hairy land crabs are used to make this popular seafood dish in T&T. The crabs are thoroughly cleaned, seasoned with fresh green seasoning and cooked with dasheen or taro leaves, okra, veggies, pepper, coconut milk, and more fresh seasonings. Crab and callaloo is often served with macaroni pie, fried rice, and more.
Curry crab and dumpling is another very popular crab dish in Trinidad and Tobago, especially in Tobago.
7. Dhalpuri roti
Dhalpuri is another lunch time favorite. It is a type of roti where the dough is made with flour, baking powder and water and is stuffed with cooked, seasoned and ground split peas. The dough is rolled out and cooked on a flat cast iron tawa (or griddle) and brushed with oil or ghee.
Curried dishes like aloo (potato), channa (chickpeas), chicken, shrimp, conch and others are often added to the center of the cooked dhalpuri, which is then folded to form a square sandwich of sorts. When made at home, dhalpuri is often served on the side.
There are so many more popular Trinidad food. Fried snacks like aloo pie, pholourie, saheena, baiganee and kachori are great. Savory treats like corn soup and souse are late night comfort food especially after partying. Sweets like kurma, tamarind balls, bene balls, barfi and fudge are also tasty. And who could forget chow? Pineapple, mango and cucumber pieces soaked in chadon beni, pepper sauce and salt can hit the sweet, salty, and spicy flavors.
What are your favorite Trinidad food? Let me know in the comments.