January 1st and 2nd of every year are public holidays here in St. Lucia. On these days market stalls are laid out and sell mostly food and drink. When we were children, these stalls surrounded the town square and the event was called “asou square” which literally translated means “on top of, or upon the square” It was a big part of our season’s enjoyment as granny’s house was on one corner of the square and we would go down and search out the jab jabs with a healthy dose of terror. These were men dressed as the devil and there were others celebrating our rich heritage like pi banane, la diablesse and others. Their delight came in terrifying little children who trailed behind them. I know I’m probably spelling these Kweyol words incorrectly, but it is only in the last 15 years that an effort has been made to give actual written symbols to this spoken French dialect/patois.
One of the people of note, which is what made me think to tell you about Asou Square, was a gentleman dressed in a white safari suit wearing a white pith helmet pushing some sort of vending trolley. You could hear his voice above the din and clatter calling out ” get your hard boiled eggs! Callaloo (he pronounced it Ca-larh-loo) is your man. Get your hard boiled eggs” and that is indeed all he sold. Must have done a roaring trade as he was there every year that I can remember during my childhood.
This recipe for callaloo is very traditional. It is a leafy vegetable not unlike spinach or kale or even chard. I have also made this callaloo using kale and spinach, the quantities of which I have supplied below. Callaloo is often cooked with crab but mine is the vegetarian option.
300g callaloo leaves (or 150g kale and 150g spinach) coarsely chopped
2tbsp coconut oil
3 seasoning peppers chopped
1 largish green chilli chopped
500g pumpkin (butternut squash) cut into smallish cubes
3 coarsely chopped onions
4 cloves garlic crushed
150g okroes (10 med) sliced across
3 sprigs celery chopped
2 sprig thyme chopped
150ml coconut milk
salt and pepper
400g cooked grated breadfruit
1 tsp salt
1 small garlic clove
60ml coconut milk
optional 100g grated coconut (for coating)
3tbsp coconut oil for oven roasted variety
Soften the onions in the coconut oil in a large saucepan, then add the garlic and peppers. Once you’re happy that everything so far is soft, add the pumpkin or squash, salt and half of the water. Let the pumpkin cook for 5 minutes or so and then add everything except the coconut milk. Put the lid on and allow to gently simmer for 20 minutes.
Pour in the coconut milk and with a hand blender whizz everything until it is smooth.
Whichever type of breadfruit ball you are going for whether it is the oven roasted variety rolled in grated coconut, or the plainer one cooked in with the soup, the basic dough is the same. All you have to do is put all the ingredients (except the grated coconut) into the food processor and carefully bring it to a smoothness that will accommodate ball rolling. Form all the balls using about 1 heaped teaspoonful for your guide.
If you are going for the oven roasted variety, you will need to have a roasting tray with 3tbsp of coconut oil heating in readiness. In order to coat the oven roasted ones with coconut, wet your hands and then wet the ball and roll to cover in the grated coconut. When you have all ready, place them on the hot roasting tray and turn to coat evenly in the oil. Roast until brown which should be no more than 10 or 15 minutes.
The other balls simply get dunked into the heating soup and allowed to cook for 10 or 15 minutes.