Callaloo


Test Kitchen-Approved

Author Notes: Callaloo, a native West African dish, came to the Caribbean during the triangular slave trade along along the Middle Passage. Its key ingredient—the heart-shaped leaves of the taro plant, known as *Xanthosoma* on the continent—continues to exert unparalleled influence on the Caribbean diet. It forever connects the region to the reach and realities of slavery, centuries later. Sometimes a stew, sometimes a soup, callaloo is an ode to the masterful and resourceful way that enslaved Africans repurposed indigenous plant life and accessible aromatics into a deeply nourishing staple. The process of making it seethes with a simplicity that defined slave cooking: quick and straightforward with little margin for indulgence. Even today, in callaloo’s postcolonial adaptation—where ingredients like fresh crab and chopped pumpkin sometimes bulk up the dish’s vegetal base—its minimalist preparation persists.Brigid Ransome Washington

Food52 Review: Featured in: The West African Dish That Formed the Heart of Our Sunday Lunches.The Editors

Serves: 6 to 8
Prep time: 10 min
Cook time: 30 min

Ingredients

  • 8 cups baby spinach, roughly chopped
  • 2 cups full-fat coconut milk
  • 8 large okra pods, stems removed, cut into small 1-inch rounds
  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme, leaves removed
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 4 green onions, diced
  • 3 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 cloves, crushed
  • 1/2 teaspoon allspice berries, crushed
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 whole Scotch bonnet, or orange habanero, pepper
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • White rice, for serving
In This Recipe

Directions

  1. In an ample stock pot over medium-high heat, bring 2 cups water to a boil. Place all of the ingredients—except the pepper and butter—into the pot. Stir to combine and place a lid over the pot.
  2. After 7 to 10 minutes, when the ingredients are wilted, add the whole pepper to the mixture. Cover with the lid and reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer for 20 minutes. Remove the pepper and discard. Add the butter.
  3. Using an immersion hand blender, puree the mixture. (If you don't have an immersion hand blender, then feel free to use a regular blender, working in batches.)
  4. Serve hot atop fresh white rice. Or serve as an alternative to spinach dip. To serve as a soup, add 2 to 3 cups boiling water after the callaloo has been pureed (adjust salt and pepper accordingly).

More Great Recipes:
Stew|African|Caribbean|Spinach|Side

Reviews (9) Questions (0)

9 Reviews

Griffincat March 21, 2019
Taro leaves are toxic if not properly cooked (like stewing for 45 minutes worth of cooking), so that's probably why spinach is subbed in.
 
Martina D. March 12, 2019
Erm...where's the TARO?? And Nancy makes a good point about the spinach , which is ...dammit I can't remember if it is found in West Africa. Did you folks throw it in because you felt most Americans couldn't get their hands on taro?
 
Nancy C. March 12, 2019
It seems to me the spinach would be way over cooked. Could you use collards or chard, which stand up better to all that boiling? The
 
Martina D. March 12, 2019
Good point....and I think the spinidge is being subb'ed for taro when as you suggest, collards +/or chard would be better !
 
marilu March 7, 2019
This was so delicious and was made even more comforting with your sweet memories. Thank you!
 
katelynstetler March 7, 2019
Am I crazy or is this recipe, which heavily mentions taro as a key ingredient, missing from the ingredient list?
 
marilu March 7, 2019
Hi, Katelyn! I think the author mentioned that this is a postcolonial adaptation in her story. I think the indigenous taro leaves may have been used in West Africa and the Caribbeans, but thankfully we can use spinach as we can find it locally (huzzah!). If you do end up using taro, please write about it so that I can try, too!
 
katelynstetler March 7, 2019
Ah. okay! I recently discovered taro and was excited for a new way to use it so I'll definitely try to swap it in. Thanks!
 
So S. February 26, 2019
1 tablespoon of salt seemed like too much for me. I don't remember exactly how much I ended up putting in but I definitely didn't do the whole tablespoon, and it was fine--to anyone making this: err on the side of caution with the salt!