Bake and buljol

coconut bake and saltfish

Weekends at my grandmother’s house meant a huge breakfast of freshly made  coconut bake, stewed down saltfish (buljol) and real cocoa tea made from the cocoa beans that she grew on the estate behind her house.  This is exactly what I was craving this Sunday morning. I couldn’t get the authentic cocoa tea but I could certainly rustle up some bake and buljol.

coconut bake and saltfish

Coconut bake

What to use

2 cups flour

1 1/2 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp salt

2 oz cold margarine

1/2 cup of coconut mik (approx. )

What to do

Sift flour with the baking powder and add salt.  Rub in margarine.  Slowly add the coconut milk and knead the mixture to make a smooth dough.  Leave to rest for about 25 minutes.  Roll out to  circle about 1 inch thick.  Place on greased baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown.  This should serve four persons or two very hungry persons.  Serve hot.

roast bake


What to use

1 pack of of saltfish (salted cod) (preferably boneless or you will spend a lot of time picking out tiny bones)

1 pimento pepper

1/2 onion (red or white)

1 large ripe tomato (diced)

two cloves garlic (minced)

2 tbs ketchup

1 tbs olive oil

1/4 tsp lemon juice

1 tbs cilantro or shadon beni

1/2 green sweet pepper diced (didn’t use any this time around but it’s part of my usual recipe)

What to do

Place the saltfish in boiling water and soak overnight.  In the morning, rinse saltfish and shred into small pieces (removing any bones).  Rinse again and drain. You want to remove all that excess salt. Saute onion, peppers, garlic and cilantro in olive oil is large skillet over medium heat until tender.  Add saltfish, tomatoes, lemon juice and ketchup and cook for about 10 minutes stirring occasionally. Serve hot with coconut bake.

coconut bake and saltfish



Pelau (pronounced pay-lao) is one of the traditional dishes of  my homeland, Trinidad & Tobago. It’s a very easy to make one pot meal…our version of pilaf or paella.   It’s a staple of many a get together or lime as we call them.  Everyone has their own twist on the popular dish but my preference is for the  deliciously simple combination of rice, chicken and pigeon peas.

I can pretty much make pelau in my sleep.  It’s a wonderful Saturday afternoon dish which can refrigerate well and provide lunch for the whole week.   I actually think it tastes better after a few days.

Here’s a recipe from one of my favourite cookbooks – The Naparima Girls’ High School Cookbook.  This cookbook, which features the multi-cultural cuisine of Trinidad and Tobago and the Caribbean,  is a must have for every Trinbagonian cook!

What to use

3 lbs chicken pieces, skinned

1tsp salt

1/2 tsp black pepper

2 tbsp mixed green seasoning

2 tsp minced garlic

1 tsp soy sauce

1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce

1 tbsp ketchup

2 tbsp vegetable oil

2 – 3 tbsp brown sugar

2 cups parboiled rice

1/2 cup chopped onion

1/2  cup chopped sweet or pimento peppers

1 1/2 cups cooked pigeon peas

1 tbsp salt

1 whole hot pepper with stem (Scotch Bonnet)

2 cups coconut milk

2 cups chicken broth or water

What to do

Season chicken with salt, pepper, green seasoning, minced garlic, Worcestershire sauce, soy sauce and ketchup.  Heat oil in a large heavy iron pot or skillet.  Add sugar and allow to burn until brown.  Add seasoned chicken and stir until pieces are well coated with burnt sugar; brown for 5 minutes.  Add rice and turn often until well mixed.  Cook for 3 minutes more.  Add onion, sweet peppers and peas and cook for a few minutes, stirring a few times.  Add salt, hot pepper, coconut milk and broth.  Bring to the boil, lower heat, cover and simmer until rice is cooked and all liquid is evaporated (about 20 to 30 minutes).  Add more liquid if rice is still hard and continue to cook for a few minutes.

My adjustments

I used whole grain brown rice instead of parboiled white rice to up the fiber content.  I also added chopped carrots for some colour.

Pelau is traditionally served with a side of coleslaw but unfortunately I had no cabbage!  Next time for sure!

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