In a few days, February 7th, Grenada celebrates its 44th anniversary of political independence. One of our favorite ways to celebrate this time of year is by cooking our national dish- Oil Down. This one pot dish is a year round favorite but around Independence Day us Grenadians tend to get a notch more intensely proud of our island and culture. Read about some of our other Independence Day Traditions in one of our previous blogposts. One of our favorite places to cook Oil Down is on an outside fireplace- usually at the river or on the beach. Because this dish is pretty prep intensive it is wonderful to do it with a group of friends while hanging out.
If you are ready to take the plunge and make your very first pot of oil down, or if it has been a while (no judgement) here is a recipe to help you do just that. Like any home recipe things can be tweaked to individual tastes. Feel free to add more local vegetables like pumpkin, string beans, okra and ground provisions like yam and sweet potato.
Oil Down Recipe
8-10 Callaloo/ Young Dasheen Leaves
1 Sprig of Celery/ Young Dasheen Leaves
3 Medium Carrots Chopped
3 Seasoning Peppers Chopped
4 Green Bananas
1 lb. flour dumplings (white counter flour, salt and water- kneed to a tough consistency)
2 tps Tumeric Powder
1/2 lb. Salt Meat or Saltfish (pre-soaked overnight)
1 Large Breadfruit Peeled
2 Cups Coconut Milk
1 Medium Onion Chopped
4 Cloves of Garlic
1. Peel and Cut Carrots into 1/2 inch thick coins
2. Cut 6-7 Callaloo leaves (the uncut leaves will be placed at the very top to act as a cover)
3. Peel and Cut Breadfruit into 3 inch thick wedges
4. Peel the green fig/ green banana
5. Wash and scrape meat, cut into pieces and rinse in lime juice and water.
6. Peel and cut onions into cubes
7. Crush or cut the garlic finely
8. Make flour dumplings by kneading together counter flour (flour that is made to be boiled not baked), water and salt. Knead the dough until it is fairly tough (nothing is worse than a soft flour dumpling)
The art of oil down cooking is in “Packing the Pot” .
(a) Place all the pieces of breadfruit to cover the bottom and to some extent the sides of the pot.
(b) Spread layer cut up callaloo onto of the breadfruit, this includes the callaloo leaf and stem.
(c) Spread a layer of carrots, onions and garlic, celery, chive and time on top of the calaloo.
(d) Repeat steps b and c until you run out of ingredients or space (whichever happens first).
(e) On top of your last layer of calaloo place your flour dumplings and green fig, salt meat or salt fish or both.
(f) Sprinkle turmeric powder over the pot and season with salt (if you are not adding salt meats or fish) and pepper sauce to taste.
(g) Cover everything with the calaloo leaves that you left uncut.
(h) Pour some of the coconut milk over everything so that it reaches about halfway up the pot. As the coconut milk boils down add remainder of the coconut milk until all your ingredients are fully cooked and you have a little liquid at the bottom of the pot.