Rice and Dasheen Bush Bhaji

There are some of the dishes that I post that hold a special place in my heart because it reminds me of the good and bad times that has passed. “Rice and Dasheen Bush Bhaji” is one such dish. The thing is, people would consider eating this type of dish as “poor people food”, who knows maybe it’s still the same stigma, because that is what you ate when there was nothing else or finances were tight. I may have been ashamed of what I was eating, especially when I went to school like, bake or sada roti and whatever filling there was, perhaps with curry aloo (potato) , fried ochroes, curry saim….. but now it seems different .

Bake, to me, isn’t just bake because I now know that it, together with roti, are types of flatbread that are enjoyed in many cultures and called by different names. I’m no longer ashamed to talk about Provision and Saltfish, or Baigan Choka because it represents who I am and where I come from. Food blogging, for the past few months, has made me proud of what I eat on a day to day basis because a lot of people from around the world appreciate what I do.

Rice and Dasheen Bush BhajiRice and dasheen bush bhaji
We Trinis really don’t know what we have; the food we eat not only reflects us as a people, but it shows our history and how the cultures have survived, thrived, integrated and have synthesized into something totally new, innovative, and original……Trini style cooking now has an identity. Where else in the world would you get Chutney being a style of East Indian music and something to eat?
Today I share with you Rice and Dasheen Bush Bhaji. Bhaji could have many meanings to us Trinidadians so I’ll have to explain; the first meaning for bhaji could be the Spiny Amaranth (Amaranthus Spinosus) which ,by the way, is called Spinach. Another could be a variety of leafy green plants that include Spinach, Agooma, Dasheen bush etc. but the best description I could come up with is : a stir fry of green leaves from certain plants (agooma, spinach, pak choi etc.) seasoned to taste. But even this doesn’t quite explain dasheen bush bhaji because, unlike the other leaves, dasheen bush “melts”; you’ll see what I mean. To add to the confusion my wife calls this stewed dasheen bush and adamantly says I should change the title of the post. Well that will have to be another story because I’m not going there at all and if it does start I won’t be able to finish the post and we can’t have that can we?

 

Dasheen bush (taro leaves - Colocasia esculenta) has been a staple in our diet and each culture has used it in one way or another making from saheena to callaloo. Other than the leaves, the corm is one of the main provision found in any soup, boiled by itself , or together with the other provision like cassava ,yam, cush cush etc. With this dish you could add any kind of meat but I personally like to eat this with either saltfish or pigtail, the real traditional way. Whether it’s called dasheen bush bhaji or stewed dasheen bush we all agree that the steps are the same, no arguing there finally. Here’s Rice and dasheen bush bhaji or stewed dasheen bush…….between you and me you know it’s dasheen bush bhaji, right?

 

 

RICE AND DASHEEN BUSH BHAJI

 

Rice boiled

2 bundles rolled dasheen bush *

1/2 lb pigtail chopped into 1″ pieces (optional)

1pk coconut milk package (50g / 1.8oz) diluted in 2 cups of water or 2 cups of coconut milk

4 cloves garlic, chopped

1 small onion, chopped

Pimento, chopped

Celery, finely chopped

1 sprig of chive, finely chopped

Pepper to taste

Salt to taste

*The centre leaf is curled and tender, so this is the best to use

 

Chop and pressure cook the pigtail.
(If you wish to use saltfish, cook, clean, remove the bones, and break it into flakes.)
Chop and wash the dasheen bush.
Remember to always cut off the tips
Cook the onion, garlic and pimento.
Add the pigtail (or the saltfish).
Add the dasheen leaves, and other seasoning.
Stir in the coconut milk.
Cover and leave to simmer until most of the liquid is evaporated.

Add salt to taste.
The cooked dasheen bush is ready to be served.
That’s it for another post. See you later!

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9 Responses to Rice and Dasheen Bush Bhaji

  1. Becky September 19, 2008 at 3:49 pm #

    I so agree with you……..i don’t ever associate certain foods with being poor people food.
    We used to say that about corned beef and rice lol.
    My son actually like corned beef and rice and i make it once a week.

    I wish i could get some dasheen bush, i usually sub with spinach but its not the same IMO.

    Your cheese paste yesterday also brought back memories ,its been so long since i had cheese paste sandwiches.
    I still do the potted meat ones every now and then.

  2. Cynthia September 19, 2008 at 7:26 pm #

    It is sad indeed that people perceive food in that way but watch at all the celebrity chefs these days, it is those basic ingredients and dishes that they are returning to. I for one am a great fan of local cuisine the world over. Peasant food is the food.

    And you are right, we don’t realise how good and what great food we have.

    I think I will try your dish with some thick leaf bhaji, don’t get dasheen leave bhaji here in Barbados.

  3. simplytrinicooking.com September 19, 2008 at 9:08 pm #

    Talking about corned beef and rice Becky, I think I will have to do that one . It’s been a while since I’ve had corned beef. My mother used to curry it with potato… Oh gosh! my mouth is watering already.

    Cynthia, I wish I could send some dasheen bush for you. Now that you’ve said it, our West Indian cuisine should not be taken for granted. All these hotels with their fancy name dishes are not truly reflecting our culture. Too besides, half of those local chefs who playing “big ting” now, started at home making pelau :^)

  4. Becky September 20, 2008 at 7:48 pm #

    I made the curry corned beef ,my mom use to make it too ,i love it but no one else here really cared for it. I usually do a stew with it where you can add potatoes if you like and i also make it dry sauted in some onion and garlic served with rice or bakes,they love it this way the best!!

  5. Boo May 18, 2010 at 4:38 am #

    HI, this is my first post here and I must say a huge thank you for all the great recipes that has brought back such wonderful memories. I live in the US and it’s very difficult to get some of the ingredients but I am determined because I just have to make some of these dishes! Also my hubby is Caucasian and I want him to try it since he has tried a few of our dishes already, he has been open to trying more things recently so I am going to take advantage of it and let him taste delicious Trini food! Thanks again, keep up the great work! :o)

  6. Katricia June 21, 2010 at 11:44 pm #

    Well if Dasheen bush and rice is considered poor people food, well i like being poor. Love love this type of food, living in the US and I’m trying to raise my kids on this type of food and not the typical fast food.

    Felix thank you for these posts, they are great and continue posting these so call poor man food.

  7. Ayana May 7, 2011 at 11:54 am #

    Just discovered your blog. Love it!! This here is one of my favourite foods on earth. I usually do it with dhal and rice (omitting the pigtail). Before we got married, my husband never even heard of dasheen bush bhaji (only the spinach)…and now he actually prefers this one. BTW – I plan to try your geera pork soon.

  8. judy January 6, 2012 at 8:19 pm #

    Every time I am looking to make something different your recipes never fail me. I recently visited the West Indies pick up some dasheen leaves and pigtails and try this recipe my husband love it and ask for more in the U.S.. you pay more for pigtails but I agree with you even though you could afford to buy meat it is still nice to eat pigtail and I have a small dog who also loves pigtails. Thank you for the great recipes Judy

  9. Fernella January 29, 2013 at 6:07 pm #

    I have to admit. I’ve always hated Dasheen bush. I love Dasheen but the slimy bush was always too much for me. I miss rice, dhal and tomato choka!!!

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