Everyone loves finger food; in fact most of our true Trinidadian food culture is built upon dipping, or spreading, some delectable vegetable blend onto roti or bakes. Most of the following dips have reoccurring ingredients, hot peppers seeded and minced, garlic cloves minced, and of course chadon beni. All dips are best left to sit in the refrigerator for at least an hour and longer to meld or combine all the flavours and given a good stir before serving.
Internationally the dip or the art on dipping some starch into a tasty creation isn't very old, only about 60 years. It wasn't until after World War II potato chips began mass production and wide scale distribution by Lays. Fritos, a fried corn chip, began about the same time and the two merged in 1961 into Frito Lay. Nachos are deep fried pieces of corn tortillas. They were first popular in Texas in the 60's.
Biscuits or crackers are the elders and perhaps the original 'snack' food. Created in New England in the 1790's from just flour and water, they were termed pilot bread. Since these hard breads did not quickly acquire mould or rot they were perfect for lengthy sailing voyages and became known as hard tack or sea biscuits. In 1800, an accidental burning of a batch of biscuits made a crackling sound, consequently the name crackers. Within a decade crackers were a world favourite and Nabisco – the National Biscuit Company was formed.
The first popular dip was called California dip and was a combination of the instant version of Lipton onion soup combined with sour cream. Salsa, the Mexican version of the dip, is more ancient traced to the Aztecs, Mayans, and Incas. Salsa was a condiment basically of tomatoes and peppers combined with various other veggies and it was the original hot sauce. The Spanish explorers named the milder, chunky versions salsa and the hotter blended picante'. It was not commercially produced until the 1970's.
The popularity of the dip associated with wholesome vegetable or fruit pieces or chip, biscuits, or nachos seems to be directly related to the popularity of television and the culture of lounging on the couch or easy chair. Dips and snacking began when eating moved from the traditional kitchen or dining room into the 'living' room. The advent of radio, then television, followed by the popularity of televised sports and nightly news moved the centre place of meal to an electronic companion. Friends have an excellent house rule of no eating while viewing TV and that has helped keep their family slim.
Regular saltine crackers, one square, have about 25 calories with little nutritive value. An ounce of regular potato chips has 150 most coming from fat with a slight bit of vitamin C and iron. The same ounce of fried or baked white corn nachos have around 140 calories with half coming from fat with a slight bit of calcium and iron. One slice or a quarter of a sada roti has 280 calories without much fat. All above are also high in sodium. I recommend healthier whole grain low sodium versions, but it is better to stick to vegetable or fruit slices when the munchies beckon.
Shirley Hall is the author of The New
Caribbean Home Garden Handbook.
BLACK BEAN DIP
Good nutrition, low calorie with almost no fat or
sugar, and a good amount of fibre and protein
Ingredients: two cans black beans - drained and rinsed but save back a quarter cup of the bean liquid, quarter cup of a red Spanish onion chopped small, one large plum tomato very ripe, two cloves of garlic minced, one TBS lime juice, one TS ground cumin/jeera, two leaves chadon beni chopped small, one half hot pepper seeded and minced – optional, salt to taste
Method: There are two ways to make this dip, basic or high-tech. Basic chunky - heat the beans in the remaining water until it begins to boil and remove from heat. Crush the beans with a spoon, stir in remaining ingredients. High-tech smooth, put everything into a blender or food processor and pulse until smooth. For the best nutrition serve with toasted whole wheat sada roti, spread on roast coconut bake.
MANGO RED PEPPER
Ingredients: Three to four very ripe mangoes depending on size, one sweet pepper - prefer red, half a red Spanish onion chopped, 3TBS lime juice - fresh is best, one half hot pepper –red- seeded and minced optional, four leaves chadon benee chopped, salt to taste
Method: Combine all the ingredients in a bowl preferably with a sealing cover. If not cover with plastic wrap and place in the fridge for at least one hour to overnight.
35 calories a serving
Ingredients: two medium eggplants, two cloves garlic minced, one TS cumin/jeera powder, two leaves chadon beni minced, juice of a lemon or lime
Method: Pierce the skin of the eggplant in several places with a knife or a fork. Place in an oven proof bowl or tin and bake at 400 degrees for about an hour. Remove flesh from skin and combine with remaining ingredients.
SPICEY SWEET TOMATO DIP
Plenty of vitamin C
Ingredients: one large tomato, one orange, and one portugal/tangerine all should be firm yet juicy. Before peeling the orange grate two TS of zest from the skin. Fruits should be peeled (not necessary with the tomato) and all chopped as small as possible. One large red Spanish onion also diced small, should make about a cup, one TS grated ginger root, two cloves of garlic minced, one half hot red pepper seeded and minced –optional, one TS vegetable oil – olive or canola preferred, one TBS lie juice, three leaves chadon benee minced, salt to taste.
Method: Combine everything and let sit refrigerated overnite covered.
AND AVOCADO DIP
Ingredients: two large ripe but firm avocados - halved, pitted, and peeled, one hot pepper, one small tomato chopped small, half pineapple - peeled, cored, and cut into one inch-thick rings, half red Spanish onion, two cloves of garlic minced, sliced into half inch thick rings, one TBS olive oil, three TBS fresh lime juice, four leaves chadon beni chopped fine, one TS salt and black pepper to taste
Method: In a frying pan on medium-high heat, brush pineapple and onion with oil, flip once, until just charred and softened about eight minutes. Remove to bowl and repeat with avocados and hot pepper for six minutes. Again carefully flip once. When cool dice avocados, onions, and pineapple and transfer to a larger bowl. Finely chop hot pepper removing seeds, add to the bowl. Add remaining one TS of salt and rest of ingredients and toss gently to combine.
SWEET POTATO HUMMUS
Ingredients: two cups sweet potato peeled, diced and steamed, one cup canned chana/chickpeas - rinsed and drained, two cloves of garlic minced, quarter cup lemon juice, one TS soy sauce or teriyaki, two TS olive oil, one TS curry powder, one TS cumin/jeera, pinch to taste of each - ground turmeric, ginger, and salt
Method: Transfer the sweet potato to the bowl along with all other ingredients. If you have a blender or food processer pulse until smooth. Otherwise work the fork or big spoon until it becomes the desired paste. Add more lemon juice if needed.
Walnut pepper dip
Ingredients: one cup walnuts, crushed, three red bell peppers, one medium onion diced – yellow or white, half cup olive oil, half cup seasoned breadcrumbs, one TS chile powder and or optional half a red hot pepper seeded and minced, pinch of cumin/jeera, salt to taste
Method: place whole red peppers on greased baking sheet in a 350 degrees oven and roast for about 10-12 minutes. Be careful not to get burned, but roll the peppers two or three times. While roasting peppers place breadcrumbs in a bowl adding two TBS cold water, blend. Add water if necessary. Carefully remove peppers from oven and peel off skin. Cut open and remove seeds. Cut into pieces and add to breadcrumbs mixture with remaining ingredients except olive oil. This blending may be done by hand, mixed, blender or food processer. In a small frying pan sauté onions until lightly browned. Add sautéed onions and olive oil to breadcrumbs, walnut pieces and pepper pieces. This dip should have a little texture. Two TBS pomegranate juice may be added.
Ingredients: three large tomatoes, finely chopped, half a red Spanish onion, very finely chopped, three leaves chadon benee chopped small, juice of one lemon or lime, one TS parsley chopped, one clove garlic minced, half a hot pepper seeded and minced optional salt and pepper to taste
Method: Combine all ingredients in a sealable bowl and let sit preferably for four hours and serve at room temperature.
Ingredients: One just ripe not too soft mango prefer Julie, calabash, or rose - peeled seeded and cubed small, one small onion, chopped small, one half hot pepper seeded and minced optional, four leaves chadon benee chopped small, salt and black pepper to taste
Method: You decide if the mango is soft/ripe enough. If not, heat the mango by immersing it in hot water for half an hour. They can be softened in a microwave for a few minutes but pierce the skin with a fork so it doesn't explode. Mash the soft mango with remaining ingredients. Add a TBS of brown sugar for a sweeter taste. Serve with biscuits/crackers or plantain, potato, or nacho chips.
AVOCADO ORANGE SALSA
Easy, delicious, and nutritious
Ingredients: one nice avocado peeled and cubed, four medium oranges peeled, seeded, and chopped small, two medium grapefruit – prefer pink – seeded and chopped small, one small red Spanish onion minced, four leaves chadon beni chopped, one half hot pepper seeded and minced (optional), juice of one lime or two TBS juice, salt and spices to your taste
Method: Combine all ingredients in a bowl and let sit in the fridge an hour before serving.