Food, Love & Light: A Last Taste for A Lost Loved One

Join Mel as she cooks up a celebratory dish honoring the loss of a friend.

Happy Friday, Love!

July has arrived in a hot steamy fashion. It seemed to creep up on me without warning. How about you? How have the last two weeks been treating you? What have you been eating?

As for me, my world is a bit darker today. Last night, we found out that a dear friend and colleague passed away. She was an ardent supporter of both me and my sister, Michele. Often, I wondered if she knew how honored we were by her support. She was a force of nature in so many ways. She ate primarily plant-based and was one of the fittest people I knew. We bonded around food and work. She was among the first RECIPE'D premiere subscribers.

In one of our last exchanges, she mentioned a RECIPE’D recipe that she made and loved. It’s fitting that it was a recipe that Michele whipped up for one of our holiday issues; they were so very close. I believe wholeheartedly in celebrating the life of those who brought joy and compassion to our lives. Food is the ultimate expression of love to me.

Today, we honor—celebrate— her life and light by resharing that recipe. We’re making pumpkin and tomato talkari (choka). I hope the taste lingers on her tongue and brings her joy where she is now.

So please join us, RECIPE’D family in honoring one of our own—let's get cooking!

Chokas and chows are Trinidad’s answer to salsa with an Indian-inspired, yet uniquely Trini spin/flavor/identity. Though we love a good salsa with Latin inspired dishes, when we yearn for the taste of home or the conjuring of our childhood, we make choka. Now, when we think of Sarah we might also make choka. I think she would’ve gotten a kick out of that.

Here’s what you’ll need:

1 large garlic clove (or two or three smaller ones; or as much as you want really)

1 medium-sized yellow onion (diced)

1 small pumpkin or butternut squash (or a piece cut from a larger pumpkin or squash)

1 tsp of brown sugar

1 small pimento pepper (diced)

1 whole scotch bonnet pepper (optional)

2 Roma tomatoes

Sazon w/ chadon beni (Badia makes a nice one that evokes the flavor of Trini green seasoning)

Here’s what you’ll need to do:

#1 Roast ‘em up right…

Preheat oven to 190 degrees C (375 degrees F) for 25 minutes.

Wrap your pumpkin or butternut squash, garlic and tomatoes in aluminum foil (if you are using a small, whole pumpkin or squash, you’ll want to prick it all over first), drizzle with extra virgin olive oil, vegetable or coconut oil (your food, your choice).

Pop the foil packet in the oven for 20-30 minutes or until everything is roasted to perfection (you can usually smell the symphony of aromas at this point).

Remove from the oven and allow to rest on counter or stovetop for 10 or so minutes.

#2 Make ‘em sing in the pan…

While your roasted ingredients take a rest, you can start creating a flavor base in your frying pan.

Add your favorite frying oil to your frying pan on a low to medium heat. When the oil is hot, add your onions, pimento and the brown sugar to your pan.

Remove your other ingredients from the foil packet. Scoop the pumpkin or squash flesh from the now sunken skin and set aside. Some people also like to remove the skin/peel from the tomatoes, but I like the skin on…do what works for you! Crush the roasted garlic and set aside too.

At this point, your onions should be translucent, add the garlic and sauté for a minute or so until the roasted garlic browns a tad. Add your pumpkin, tomato and Sazon (if using a scotch bonnet pepper, now is the time to add that too). Sauté for 10 or so minutes until all of the flavors have melded into a beautiful symphony of perfectly balanced sweetness, slight heat of undeniable more-ishness.

#3 Plate ‘em up…

Dish up and serve with your favorite bread, roti or starchy accompaniment…ENJOY!

Thank you for taking this journey with us. Food has always been synonymous with love and nourishment for me. Our friendship also supplied these things. May our dear friend and RECIPE’D family member, rest in peace.

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Until we cook together again, surround yourself with the warmth, peace and bright light of those that love you.



This issue is dedicated to the formidable spark, loving energy, and bright light of Sarah McIntosh.