The Essence of Choka

>> Saturday, 19 January 2008

“Stand still in front of Cynthia for five minutes, and you may end up as a choka.” Jugalbandi
I am not calling names, but I think I know who at Jugalbandi wrote that statement. The truth is, I do love me some choka. As I wrote in my column this week, choka for me is soul-food, it is rustic food, real food, food that connects you and speaks to you in a special way.

Choka for us in the Caribbean refers to a method of making a dish. In other words, you’d hear people say, I’m making a choka. The tenets of choka-making are roasting, pounding and grinding. It is about getting the texture and consistency just right.

So where did choka come from? As you well know, the Caribbean is a made-up place, our ancestors came from various continents, (ahem, some of them brought against their will) to these shores. We know for a fact that choka came from our Indian ancestors and thanks to some research done by Jugalbandi it seems as if this influence came from the state of Bihar and was brought to the Caribbean by Bihari immigrants.

This week’s column is about the making of chokas, we’ve added a few others to the elite 3-member choka family of potato, tomato & eggplant. In addition to these three, we also make coconut choka, salt-fish choka and smoked-herring choka. Click here to read the column about exacting choka-making standards and how time-consuming it is.

However, despite the standards and the time and effort, a choka is well worth it and anyone can make a choka, all you need is an open flame, and a food processor, (no longer do you have to worry if you don't have a lorha and sil or mortar with pestle). In the case of the coconut choka, you’ll also need a box grater. Here are the chokas I made for a get-together I had this week.


The recipes for these choka(s) are book-embargoed by my publisher. Click here if you are interested.

I sending one of these chokas to Meeta for her Comfort Food Monthly Mingle.

Star fruit is in season, we also call it carambola and five-finger. It can be eaten as is, when ripe or it can be stewed and dried to be used as fruits for baking and of course, it makes a refreshing and delicious drink packed with vitamin C. This drink, I am sending to Mansi at Fun and Food for her Games Night event. And finally my friends, I want to tell you all about an event that I participated in last year and to make an introduction.


Last year, Kristen of Dine and Dish hosted an event called, Adopt-a-blogger. Simply put, if you’d been blogging for a while and felt comfortable enough to share what you’ve learnt about blogging, make a new friend and assist each other in navigating through the blog world, then all you had to do was leave a comment saying, yes, I’d like to partner with someone in this event, I’d like to adopt-a-blogger. So my friend, Mary, at Shazam in the kitchen, and I got matched-up! Eat your heart out eharmony!! (lol) On a more serious note, it was a brilliantly thought-out event. I am sure that all of us wished such an event was around when we started blogging. Remember us emailing each other tentatively asking questions about how to do this or that? and apologising for sounding dumb etc.? Heck we are still doing that :) and that is a good thing. Just yesterday, I emailed Gattina and Sunita about learning to perform a particular task on my blog; and I can name a long list of blogger friends who have offered and continue to offer assistance in one way or another.

So please allow me to introduce you to Mary of Shazam in the kitchen. Don’t you just love the name of her blog? I’d like you all to go visit Mary’s blog, add it to your RSS feeds and or blog rolls. Mary, it’s a real pleasure to be teamed up with you and I look forward to our continued friendship.

This week, the question over at Forgive Me My Nonsense… is: where should the French President’s girlfriend sit as he makes a state visit to India to partake in the Republic-celebrations? Click here and weigh in, Bee already has!

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