I have a confession to make. I have grown up utterly hating ‘provisions’. You know what I’m talking about. Yams, eddoes, dasheen… I always had a fondness for cassava so that was granted a pardon, but the others? I wanted nothing to do with them. The antipathy began from childhood and stretched without interruption into my adult years. Memories of fist sized cubes of starch submerged in dark cloudy water, often with green bananas, held no appeal to me either visually or taste-wise.
Then, quite unexpectedly, late last year I ran into a post by Taymer Mason, author of Caribbean Vegan, where she expressed sheer adoration for dasheen. Her glowing praises had me wondering if we could possibly have tasted the same vegetable! After sharing my experiences with her she confirmed that my mother’s method of plain boiling and serving was probably the least appetizing approach to be taken, and she gave me some alternative recommendations. When I later ran these ideas by my mother, she confessed that she too didn’t like ‘provisions’, hadn’t grown up eating them, and really only made them from time to time for my father. Now convinced that it was probably her dislike for her own pot that had added to the lackluster experiences I had had growing up, I decided it was time to revisit dasheen – on my own terms.
A little over a year ago I received a review copy of a small self-published cookbook called “Harriet’s Tobago Cookery Book“. I have deservedly received some criticism in the past for not featuring/exploring the cuisine of Tobago much on this site. The omission, I have always said, was not deliberate but more due to a lack of resource materials and exposure to dishes that I could eat within my own dietary restrictions. I often asked my critics to share a recipe or two with me that I’d be happy to feature on the site (giving them the credit), to which I never received a response. That’s why I was happy when I finally received a copy of “Harriet’s Tobago Cookery Book” after many online-searches for Tobago culinary resources. Though small and thin it is full of concise, no-nonsense recipes and directions for dishes unique to Tobago, and others that would be familiar to Trinidadians as well. I have recently started to familiarize myself with its contents (it disappeared for an extended period amidst renovations) and will offer a more indepth-review at a later date. However, let’s just say that I decided that if I had a fighting chance to get on good terms with Dasheen, I was going to rely on this book to do it for me.
I was not disappointed.
This recipe for Dasheen Balls is pretty much the same as a potato croquette however, because of the nature of dasheen it is a good bit heavier in result. The addition of seasonings is essential to counter the rather non-descript flavour of dasheen, unadorned. Although the recipe doesn’t call for it I also recommend a healthy pat of butter or margarine as well I enjoyed it immensely as a snack, and can see it as a perfectly acceptable side dish or hors d’oeuvres as well. For an extra special twist you can also use panko crumbs. Any way you approach it, this recipe is most definitely worth a try!
SOURCE: Harriet’s Tobago Cookery Book
1 dasheen root
butter or margarine, to taste (optional)
bread crumbs (I used rice cracker for gluten-free)
oil, for frying
1. Peel, boil and puree dasheen
2. Mix with parsley, chive, egg, salt and pepper and butter/margarine (if using)
3. Make into balls
4. Roll in bread or salt biscuit crumbs (I pulverized rice crackers to keep it gluten-free)