A true Trini meal is rice and dhal. I cannot think of any one who has never had this meal at least once in their life, OK! probably twice. It is understandable. Besides being an enjoyable meal, it is also easy to make and goes well with just about anything – be it a vegetarian meal or not. It also serves well with saltfish, smoke herring, chicken, and beef. But I love it with smoked herring.
There has to be something about the flavor of this meal that I like. Smoked herring and dhal seems to complement each other. The scent of the smoked flavor mixed with all the different local herbs makes my mouth water. And the taste is heavenly. You may be wondering what is smoked herring, it is a dried smoked herring that is imported into the country that looks reddish brown in colour when cured. It is something of a staple in our diet and cooking, just like saltfish.
I don’t know when this tradition started, since I’ve known myself I’ve been eating it, but perhaps the fish became a favourite of the locals because it lasted a long time without being refrigerated during the days when there weren’t any electricity and far less refrigerators. Locally we call smoked herring “choir girl” because of the way the fish mouth looks as if it is singing. The way we’ll be preparing the smoked herring will be similar to a raw tomato choka but just with smoked herring added.
The dhal tastes terrific as it is cooked with chive, chadon beni, geera (cumin) and pepper. And when saffron (hardi) is added to the dhal, the yellow colour, the split peas turns into, makes it even more appetizing. I never get tired eating this meal. If you love split peas and have never tried it like this, you ought to do yourself that favor and try it at least once. So here’s rice and dhal and smoked herring; just the way I like it.
1 cup split peas
1 small onion
4 leaves chadon beni
1/2 tsp. geera (cumin)
1/2 tsp. saffron (hardi) powder
4 cloves garlic
1 pk. smoke herring
3 medium tomatoes
3 cups water
oil for chongkaying
1 tbsp. olive oil
Salt to taste
saffron powder in a pressure cooker with the water for about 15 minutes.
Strain, clean and debone. (Please not all the bone could be removed).
Oh, and I just had to add a little mango kuchela at the side.