Saada Roti & Chokha made just right

TRINIDAD: Chokha is a simple and delicious dish. This special dish was one of the first staple delicacies to be prepared in the barracks in the early days of indentureship. The Chokha was brought to our region from India by Indian immigrants beginning in 1845 and originated in the state of UP/Bihar. To make Chokha, you simply roast tomatoes or bhaigan on an open flame, grounding it with pepper, garlic, onion and salt to complete the dish.

Chokha, for us in the Caribbean, refers to the method of making a dish. You would hear people say, “I’m making a chokha.” Chokha-making is simply roasting and pounding, it is about getting the texture and consistency just right. Traditionally a Chula (Earthen Stove), now a coal-pot, BBQ/stove-grill was heated to approximately 400°F and the prepared vegetable of choice was placed on the open fire flames, rotated a couple of time until roasted. “It is simply roasted vegetable seasoned together with garlic, onion, salt and pepper etc; a quickly prepared dish and very economical,” according to popular Central entrepreneur/Mere Desh promoter Ajeet raimsingh.

“Sadaa roti and tomato and baigan chokha are favourite dishes,” said Praimsingh. “The combination is so versatile it can be eaten for breakfast, lunch, or dinner, with a hot cup of cocoa, coffee, tea, or some other refreshing beverage. “The spicy, roasted garlic taste of the chokha cannot be put into words; you just have to try it. This dish has become so popular now, that it is sometimes served at all occasions, including all-inclusive fetes. Sadaa Roti and Chokha have certainly come a long way.”

Praimsingh also said: “East Indian food continues to stir the imagination of the national population. And almost everywhere one goes, one will find that East Indian culinary delights are in demand. There is a proliferation of ‘food shops’ which are now selling East Indian foods.” The Mere Desh Committee has organised a Sadaa Roti and Chokha competition as part of its 19th annual Indian Arrival Day celebrations. The competition will be held at Mid Centre Mall Car Park, Chaguanas, on May 30, starting at 2 pm.

1 lb of tomatoes
2 tbs of oil
1 finely chopped onion
3 chopped garlic cloves
salt and hot pepper to taste

Roast the tomatoes until it is soft and the skin can be easily peeled off.
Mash the tomatoes into a pulp.
Add onion and pepper and mix well.
Heat a little oil using a pot spoon with a peg of garlic.
Add the heated oil to the tomato mixture and stir for at least one minute.