Caribbean Cooking: Oil Down

From its crystal clear blue waters to lush vegetation and calming waterfalls, from its healthful and tasty spices to scenic coastal highways and friendly citizens, there are many things to love about Grenada. But, nothing beats a pot of Oil Down cooked on a charcoal grill/pot.

When I was little, going to the market with my mum was one of my favorite things to do on a Saturday morning, especially if the day’s menu included my special dish. We’d purchase the callaloo leaves, breadfruit, green bananas, couscous yams, chicken parts, salted pig snouts and tails, and other ingredients that make this dish as special as it’s supposed to be. It’s hardly about the food really, but the camaraderie and bonds that you develop with others while preparing the meal. My mum loved to cook and she also loved sharing, so after we finished cooking the food, she’d invite her selected few to join us for dinner.

Oil Down is one of those dishes where it requires several ingredients and it might even look a little messy, however they all work well together and it is quite delicious and filling. Back in Grenada, everything we use for this recipe is usually fresh and without additives, however you can find most of the ingredients fresh at your local Whole Foods supermarket with ease. So let’s get straight to cooking! Here’s everything you’ll need to make your Oil Down and how to make it. Remember you can adjust as much or as little as needed.

Servings: 3-6

Ingredients:

1½ cans Coconut milk

1 tsp. Turmeric/saffron/curry

1 Sweet pepper chopped

1 lb Callaloo or spinach

1 lb Couscous yams chopped

1 lb Green bananas chopped

5 Potatoes (optional)

2 Carrots (optional)

1 lb Breadfruit chopped

Dumplings

½ lb Salted pork-tails/snouts or 1 lb chicken

Seasonings:

1 stick Celery

¼ cup chopped Parsley

¼ cup chopped Cilantro

¼ cup chopped Green onions

2 stems Thyme

1 tsp. Salt

4 Garlic cloves

Dumpling ingredients:

2 cups Flour

¼ tsp. Salt

½ cup Water

Directions:

Add coconut milk as your base ingredient. Then add your desired seasonings, peppers and turmeric/saffron/curry to taste. Add meats and/or chicken (I suggest seasoning it ahead of time), followed by breadfruit, yams, dumplings, green bananas, carrots, potatoes, and water. Lastly, put callaloo or spinach on top. Cover pot and let it cook on low fire, occasionally stirring to make sure every ingredient is consistent in color and flavor.

Dumpling directions:

Add 2 cups all-purpose flour to a bowl. Add ¼ tsp. salt and ½ cup water, then mix until you have a firm dough. When you’re finished mixing, cut your dough into small pieces and roll it into little balls before adding it to the pot.

Reminder:

Everything must be layered in the pot before it goes on the stove and don’t forget to put enough liquids. For every can of coconut milk, use 1 can of water. Also, cut and peel your vegetables before adding them to the pot. Don’t let the pot dry down too much because the “nana” is the best part. Serve and enjoy!

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