After beginning her writing career with a weekly food column called the ‘Trini Coalpot’ in the Trinidad Guardian and the Barbados Nation, Trinidadian-born Wendy Rahamut has now produced a book of Caribbean recipes which is being sold throughout the region.
Titled Caribbean Flavors, Rahamut’s publication containing 150 recipes, has found its way onto the shelves of the local bookstores in Georgetown.
The recipes range from cornmeal crusted flying fish to chicken pelau, and from coconut curried chicken with lemongrass to beef with vegetables and noodles.
Noting that food plays an important part in socialising, and some type of food is always included in any gathering, Rahamut has assembled the recipes under nine-broad “flavours” - appetiser; soup and salad; meat; seafood; `veggie’; rice, side and provision; cake and dessert; bread and sweet bread; and small and hot.
She writes that fritters and pies are the most popular appetisers in the Caribbean, and that “from Cuba through to Guyana the theme of these appetisers is hot and spicy, redolent with the flavours of dried spices and fresh herbs.”
Her appetisers include exotic sounding names like crabcakes with chili-lime mayonnaise and coconut fried shrimp with fire and spice orange dip.
She noted that soups in the Caribbean, unlike other countries, are generally hearty, nourishing, one-dish meals, and that the African presence permeates most Caribbean soups with the inclusion of a lot of provisions. While soups utilising callaloo and peas and beans are popular in several places, pumpkin soup is a favourite in Jamaica.
Chicken, the most popular meat in the region, is prepared in a variety of ways, reflecting the different cultures of the Caribbean, although beef, goat and lamb are also favourites.
Desserts using local ingredients include mammie apple cake and brown sugar pineapple crisp with coconut ice cream.
Rahamut told Stabroek News at her recent book launching in Trinidad and Tobago, that she began writing her weekly food column for the Trinidad Guardian in 1995.
In that same year, she opened the Wendy Rahamut School of Cooking, and in 1996 she published a small collection of recipes entitled Quick Fixin Recipes, which is still being sold on the local market. In 1998 she started publishing an annual food calendar and last year she launched a quarterly food magazine entitled Caribbean Gourmet, a magazine which captures “the essence of our very own Caribbean peoples.”
“After the first book,” she said, “I wanted to do a Caribbean-specific book with style, so that’s where Macmillan publishers came into the picture.” It so happened that she produces and is host to the weekly television cooking programme Caribbean Flavours in the twin-island republic, which is now entering its fifth year. By 2000, she had a respectable collection of recipes from this programme, and so she approached Macmillan. “[Thus] Caribbean Flavors, the book, was born,” she said.
Any plans for putting together more recipes? Rahamut replied, “I would like to publish a ‘Caribbean Lite’ book, within the next year or so.”
Asked about her interest in cooking, she said that as a child she loved to cook. “My mother is a fabulous cook so she was an inspiration to me and always encouraged me.” After graduating with a business degree in Canada and having worked for 10 years she decided to follow her “lifelong passion for food, my career.” She went to George Brown Culinary School, where she obtained a Chef de Haute Cuisine accreditation. She then ran her own catering company in Toronto after which she returned home to Trinidad to begin a career in the Caribbean culinary arts. (Miranda La Rose)