Trini Carnival: Cassava Pone with a Sweet Backstory and Spiked Mango Smoothies


Two creative desserts were provided by Chris.  As a bonus, the first came with a nice story.  Read on:

Since many Trinidadian desserts are really sweet I picked Cassava Pone since it wasn’t too sweet and seemed very authentic and local. I think Peter or Linda may have mentioned where the word “pone” comes from but I forgot (I don’t think we did.  We don’t know what it means! According to all-knowing Wikipedia, pone is also a name for a type of cornbread in the Southern US, derived from a Native American word.  Triangle trade?) Also, we decided that tropical fruit like mangoes was needed to complete a Caribbean party, so the pone is accompanied by a mango-yogurt-white rum smoothie. Little drink umbrellas would have been the final touch but ran out of time to find some!

Cassava Pone

(pone rhymes with stone not Monet)

I found several recipes for Trinidadian style pone online. Most used cassava but several also included pumpkin. I did research to find a local Caribbean market in the Bay Area. I found great reviews about a Caribbean market: Specialty Foods, Inc. 535 8th St. in Old Town Oakland, CA. Since I work in Oakland it was a perfect field trip during my lunch break. The market was stocked with all sorts of Caribbean delicacies. I filled my basket according to my online recipe with frozen cassava, coconut, condensed milk, etc. One tip I learned is that it takes time and hard work to grate the cassava, so purchase the already grated cassava which I found in the frozen section. When I went to pay, the friendly woman at the register immediately recognized my ingredients and offered to give me her mother’s own cassava pone recipe. She introduced herself as Leilani and said that her family is Filipino and that the recipe is a little different. It has a flan style topping (I suspect that comes from the Spanish cultural influence) but that all her Caribbean friends love it! I was sold (literally). We went back into the aisles and she picked the additional ingredients that I needed. She noticed that I had picked the most expensive can of coconut milk (of course, it must be better, right?) so she traded it for a cheaper – and better! – brand.

The moral of this story is to be open and friendly like Chris.  You never know where it will lead you! Also, a recent study discussed in the New York Times showed that talking to strangers can increase your happiness.  So forget what mama told you!

Cassava (aka Manioc, Mandioca, Yuca) Pone



2 16oz packets of frozen grated cassava (defrost out of package)

4 cups whole milk

2 eggs

1 tsp vanilla extract/essence

1 cup granulated sugar

1 20oz can young coconut meat (in syrup)

1/2 tsp salt

Dash of pepper

Optional spices: cinnamon, cardamom. (I used about ½ tsp of each.)


1 13.5 oz can coconut milk

1 14oz can condensed milk

2 eggs



Preheat oven to 350 F.

Defrost frozen grated cassava. Tip: first remove frozen cassava from package to defrost since otherwise difficult to scrape out of package when thawed.

Add whole milk, 2 eggs, vanilla, 1 cup sugar, salt, pepper and spices. Mix until ingredients are well blended.

Drain and finely chop young coconut meat and stir into mixture.

Spray 13 x 9in baking pan with non-stick cooking spray and pour mixture into pan. Bake for approximately 50-60 minutes or until top is firm and dry.

To make topping:

Combine coconut milk, condensed milk and 2 eggs in a separate bowl. Blend well and set aside until cake has fully cooked, as above.

When cake is ready, pour topping mixture to cover entire top without overflowing the pan. Return to oven for 45 min or until top layer is dry, bubbly and browned.


Mango-Yogurt-White Rum Smoothie

Adapted from Bobby Flay’s recipe

spiked mango smoothie


2 ripe mangoes, peeled, pitted and chopped

2 cups Greek yogurt

1/2 cup mango nectar

1/2 cup white rum

Crushed ice

2 to 4 tablespoons simple syrup, depending on sweetness of mangoes


Combine mango, yogurt, nectar, rum and a few cups of crushed ice in a blender and blend until smooth and frothy. Sweeten with simple syrup, if needed. Divide among 4 glasses and serve.


This concludes our Spicebox Supperclub: Trini Carnival Edition.  Thanks for reading!

We’ve just had another Supperclub from a completely different corner of the world.  Check back in a few weeks to see where our latest Supperclub transported us!

Trini Carnival: Eggplant (Baigan) Choka with Coconut Bake


We began the sit-down (but informal) portion of our meal with a starter of roasted eggplant choka on a round of coconut bake (a quick bread that can be either baked or fried).  Choka is a common Trinidadian Indian preparation of many vegetables, most commonly eggplant (known locally as baigan or melongene), tomato or pumpkin.  I love them all.  It’s the kind of dish you should be able to find anywhere, but on our recent trip home to Trinidad, whenever I tried to order one as the filling for my roti at the roti shop, they were out.  Trinis, I’m afraid, love meat and anything deep fried, and come to think of it, the only vegetables I ate for a week were deep fried.  Not always a bad thing, but enough is enough!  So arm yourself with this technique, and you won’t be faced with a similar fate of meat and fried things.  Apologies for the bad photo– eggplant is never photogenic, and in mood lighting? Even worse.

And for a lively tale of bake and more on another Caribbean island, St. Vincent, read Francis Lam’s article in Afar‘s May 2013 issue.  The Trinidadian couple he mentions (thankfully anonymously) are Mr. and Mrs. Spicebox Travels!

Baigan Choka with Coconut Bake

choka bake



1 Eggplant

2 cloves garlic

1 onion, chopped

1 teaspoon cumin seed, toasted


salt and black pepper to taste


1.  Preheat oven to 300 F.

2.  Wash and dry eggplant.  Cut in half lengthwise and place, cut side up, onto a parchment paper-lined baking sheet.  Use a paring knife to cut deep diagonal slices into the flesh, but not through the skin, of the eggplant halves.  Repeat at a 45 degree angle in the other direction until you have diamonds.

3.  Brush each eggplant half with a few tablespoons of olive oil.  Sprinkle on a bit of salt and freshly ground black pepper.

4.  Roast in oven for 45 minutes to an hour, until the flesh is soft when pierced with a fork, and the eggplant loses its shape

5.  Use a spoon to scoop out the roasted eggplant flesh and put it into a bowl.

6.  Heat some oil in a pan and add chopped onion, garlic, salt and black pepper.  Cook for a minute until onion is just softened, then combine entire mixture along with the toasted cumin seeds into the roasted eggplant.  Add salt to taste.

Coconut Bake


2 cups flour

2 tsp baking powder

¼ tsp salt

4 Tbsp margarine (butter may be substituted but would not be authentic)

¾ cup coconut milk


1.  Preheat oven to 350 F.

2.  Sift together dry ingredients in a medium mixing bowl.

3.  Work in margarine with your fingertips until crumbly.

4. Add coconut milk, first stirring with a spoon and then your hands to form dough into a smooth ball. Depending on your kitchen’s humidity, you may need more coconut milk or more flour; add a tiny bit at a time. Allow dough to rest for 30 minutes, covered with a damp cloth.

5.  After dough has rested, roll out onto a floured surface to a 1 inch thick circle. Transfer onto a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake for about 30 minutes, until golden.

6.  Bake be eaten on its own, or split horizontally to make sandwiches with choka, buljol, smoked herring, or for more familiar flavors, avocado, tomato and onion, ham or eggs.

Thanks for coming by! This is the fourth post about our recent Trini Carnival Supperclub.  Please visit the preceding posts on the menu, the Spicebox Cocktail, and nibble on fried plantains.  Come back soon for our next course!