Choka with Bakes (Trinidadian Grilled Vegetable Dip with Grilled Flatbreads)Steven Raichlen
Other Recipes from Planet Barbecue Episode 107 – Fire and Spice
There is no shortage of grilled eggplant dishes in the world, but this one—a dip that is a specialty of Trinidad’s Indian community—is one of the few I know in which the eggplant is studded with garlic cloves before grilling. What results is an incredible depth of flavor. I often use this Trinidadian technique when I grill eggplant for another use. Serve this as a dip with bakes (Trinidadian flatbread) or grilled pita chips.
Makes about 2 1/2 cups
Method: Caveman-style or direct grilling
Choka with Bakes (Trinidadian Grilled Vegetable Dip with Grilled Flatbreads)
- 2 eggplants (about 2 pounds in all)
- 4 cloves garlic, peeled and cut in half lengthwise
- 4 scallions
- 2 plum tomatoes
- 1 Scotch bonnet or habanero chile
- 1/2 cup plain whole-milk yogurt
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro or flat-leaf parsley
- 2 teaspoons ground coriander
- 2 teaspoons grated peeled fresh ginger
- The finely grated zest and juice (2 tablespoons, or to taste) of 1 fresh lemon
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Bakes (Trinidadian grilled bread: recipe here) or grilled pita chips
1: Set up the grill for caveman-style grilling (grilling in the embers) and fan the coals to remove any loose ash. Alternatively, you can grill the vegetables over direct heat over a charcoal fire or on a gas grill.
2: Using the tip of a paring knife, make 4 small slits in each eggplant. Insert a half clove of garlic in each slit.
3: When ready to cook, place the eggplants in the coals and grill, turning with tongs, until the skin is charred all over and the flesh is very soft, 15 to 20 minutes. Transfer to a cutting board to cool. Trim the ends, then scrape off the charred skin. (It’s okay if some remains.)
4: Finely chop one of the scallion greens and set aside for a garnish (you need about 2 tablespoons). Grill the remaining scallions until charred, 1 to 2 minutes per side. Transfer to the cutting board to cool.
5: Grill the plum tomatoes and scotch bonnet until the skins are charred. Transfer to the cutting board to cool. Cut the scotch bonnet in half and remove the seeds.
Finely chop the vegetables by hand or in a food processor. Work in the yogurt, cilantro, coriander, ginger, lemon zest and juice, and oil. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve at once with the Bakes for dipping.
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