These Trinidad food products are main ingredients in many Trini recipes.
It is tough for Trinis living abroad to find them. And figuring out the right substitution for some of these ingredients is almost impossible.
Some are sold on Amazon and I’ve linked them here.
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Popular Trinidad Food Products
1. Green seasoning
Green seasoning is the main flavoring sauce used in all savory food from Trinidad and Tobago.
It contains chadon beni (or shadow benny or culantro or recao), garlic and other herbs like cilantro, Spanish thyme (Mexican mint), fine thyme, ginger and pepper.
Learn more about green seasoning from this post.
If you like gardening, consider buying your very own chadon beni/culantro plant. Nothing compares to the taste of fresh chadon beni – it’s much more powerful than cilantro. Try your green thumb growing the seeds too.
2. Pepper sauce
Pepper sauce is a must-have condiment – much like ketchup and mustard. And, in T&T, we have a wide range of peppers from scorpion pepper to scotch bonnets and pimentos.
So, you can find the right heat level for your taste buds.
You can also make your own with your choice of hot pepper, garlic, carrots, salt, vinegar, and lime juice.
You can make browning by caramelizing sugar until dark brown; then adding hot water to stop the cooking process. Bottle and store in the fridge for weeks to months.
4. Golden ray
Golden Ray margarine is a cooking margarine that adds a delicious buttery, salty, creamy flavor to many savory Trini recipes like red beans, provisions, pelau, and soups like corn soup.
You’ll likely find this product in Caribbean groceries and supermarkets in your area (it’s not on Amazon…yet!).
This may seem like an odd one to add to the list, but the ketchup most often used in Trini cooking is Matouk’s ketchup.
It is a product of T&T and contains tomato puree, sugar, modified corn starch, vinegar, spices and more. The ketchup has a greater tomato puree and tomato paste flavor than regular ole ketchup.
It is often used in beans, stews, soups, and even in seasoning meats.
Roucou is used much in the same way as ketchup. It is a natural, red food coloring made by soaking and extracting the pigment from the roucou seeds (or achiote or annatto seeds). The extract is often mixed with copious amounts of salt, which acts as a preservative.
You can use roucou as a browning replacement in pelau, stews, soups, and seasoned meats.
Oh and it can last in the fridge for years so get roucou seeds on Amazon and make your own today!
7. Bay Leaves
West Indian bay leaves are unique to the islands – they are not the same as bay laurel. The West Indian version, also called ciliment, is much stronger and more fragrant.
The leaves are cooked in oil and removed before adding other ingredients. We do this when making Trini parsad. You can remove the leaves at the end when making other dishes like soups, stews, and more.
Besides cooking, you can make West Indian bay tea with the leaves. Oh and the leaves are great insect repellents so you can add them to cupboards and containers with grains to keep bugs out.
8. Curry Powder
Curry powder is another important Trinidad food product. Interestingly, there are many types of curry powders including Madras curry and duck and goat curry powder. The regular curry powder contains coriander, turmeric, cumin, fenugreek, salt, fennel, and chilies.
It is used to make all curried recipes in Trinidad and Tobago from curry channa and aloo (chickpeas and potatoes) to curry duck and curry-stew meats.
Note, Caribbean curries are not the same as the curries in India – the islands have their own flavor.
Get the curry powder on Amazon.
9. Cumin and cumin powder
Cumin or geera is another important ingredient in Trini food. Whole cumin seeds are cooked in oil when making curries, talkaris (tarkaris) and Trini-style dhal (yellow split peas).
Geera chicken and geera pork are favorites as finger foods during a night-out drinking or during a lime at the river or beach.
10. Masala powder
There are two types of masala powders in Trini cuisine – garam masala and amchar masala powder.
‘Garam’ means hot or spicy and ‘masala’ means mix of spices. So, garam masala is a blend of strong spices like coriander, cumin, black pepper, cinnamon, nutmeg, and clove. This powder is often added to curries and other Indian dishes. You can find Chief garam masala on Amazon too.
‘Anchar’ means pickle, so amchar is likely some derivative term for anchar. And, amchar masala is often used when making pickled condiments like kuchela and mango anchar. The masala is also added to mango talkari (tarkari), chataigne (bread nut) and more.
By the way, it contains coriander, cumin, black peppercorns, fenugreek, fennel seeds, and brown mustard seeds.
Speaking of kuchela, it’s another must-have condiment. It is a pickle of sorts usually made with grated green (unripened) mangoes or pommecythere (golden apple).
The grated fruit is squeezed, dried then mixed with amchar masala, garlic, spices, salt, pepper, and preservatives like vinegar and hot mustard oil.
My mom makes kuchela at home and then puts it in the sun. This supposedly sterilizes the pickle and guarantees it’ll last for months in the fridge.
Kuchela is often served on the side with any popular Trini lunch.
Anchar or achar is another condiment of sorts. While kuchela uses grated fruit, anchar is made with larger pieces of fruit – usually green (unripened) mango or pommecythere (golden apple).
The fruit pieces are dried then mixed with garlic, amchar masala powder, pepper, salt, and hot mustard oil. It is also placed in the sun to cure.
Crix crackers has been around for a long, long time. It is a thin wheat biscuit, made with flour, palm oil, sugar, salt and more.
The company has a tagline: “Crix, the vital supplies” and that has certainly stuck with these Trinidad food products. It is a must-have when you want a quick snack or a light dinner. Crix and cheese or avocado or sardines are favorites.
I also grind up the crackers and use them as breadcrumbs or Panko. Oh, and the product is definitely on my list when shopping for hurricane/storm prepping supplies.
14. Split peas powder
Split peas powder is a primary ingredient in many Trini Indian recipes like pholourie, saheena, and baiganie.
It is made by grinding dried yellow split peas or dhal. Nowadays, no one grinds their own dried dhal anymore, we just use split peas powder instead.
15. Pholourie mix
I’ve made pholourie before by mixing all the basic ingredients – split peas powder, flour, and so on. Unfortunately, I didn’t mix the batter properly and, when frying, it exploded in the hot oil… It was quite a disaster.
I asked my mother-in-law to show me how to make pholourie and you’ll see her recipe and tutorial over there.
Instead of making from scratch, I prefer to use this pholourie mix. It makes everything straightforward and easy to do. Now, I just have to get the dropping technique right!
Tamarind is a unique fruit belonging to the legume family. Its seeds are encased with thin, brown flesh that holds tremendous tangy flavors.
Tamarind sauce is incredibly popular in Caribbean and Indian cuisine. It’s so good as a dipping sauce for fried treats like pholourie. But, you can also make tamarind balls, tamarind juice, tamarind paste and much more.
This is one of the most recognizable Trinidad food products. Angostura bitters is a must-have in every restaurant and bar around the world. And, it is a product of T&T.
Bitters is alcohol infused with special herbs, fruits, roots, and other spices. There are new flavors too like orange and cocoa.
One bottle of bitters will last in the fridge for years. You can use it in sauces, stews, and to season meat. Of course, that’s in addition to cocktails and other alcoholic drinks.
Roselle or sorrel is a tangy, cranberry-like drink that has a beautiful ruby red color. It is especially popular around Christmas time (that’s when the plants bear).
But the red sepals are now harvested, dried and packaged so sorrel can be enjoyed all year round.
Brew the sepals as a unique hibiscus tea with cinnamon, clove, ginger, orange peel, and star anise.
Fair warning, the sorrel brew is quite tangy and so will require a lot of sugar to sweeten the drink.
Get sorrel on Amazon.
19. Cocoa nibs
A cup of hot cocoa tea is the perfect way to start the day! And, if you can’t find roasted cocoa beans, cocoa nibs are perfectly suited to make that delicious cocoa tea.
Add the nibs to boiling water and spices like cinnamon, bay leaves, cloves, and more. Once everything comes to a rolling boil, add milk and remove from the heat.
Sweeten and enjoy that cup!
Continuing on with this list of Trinidad food products, I think mauby must be included!
Mauby is a unique bitter drink made by brewing mauby bark and spices. The drink is left to steep overnight and sweetened to form a concentrated syrup.
You can either make the concentrate or purchase it on Amazon. It is typically diluted with water and served to guests.
Bonus: Naparima cookbook
The Multi-Cultural Cuisine of Trinidad & Tobago & the Caribbean by the Naparima Girls’ School is the go-to cookbook for Trini food.
I have the hardcover version and it’s in constant use.
My mom had the older version too and still uses hers.
That’s my list! What are your favorite Trinidad food products? I’d love to hear your recommendations.