10 Best Dishes from Trinidad

Roti, doubles, curries and more — Trinidad’s best foods are loaded with flavor and pack on the taste. Check out these top 10 must-try Trini dishes from writer Ann Vanderhoof‘s delicious tour of local Trinidad cuisine. (Try not to let your mouth water too much.)

Ready to try your hand in the kitchen? Click here to learn how to make these dishes with our authentic Trinidad recipes.

Read more: Hawaii’s Best Tastes | Taste Trinidad’s Chocolate



A pure Trini invention. “Deh best,” says Jesse, have pillowy-light bara bread sandwiching tender curried channa (chickpeas) — not too runny — finished with a spoonful of tamarind or mango and a kick of pepper. And they must be assembled so you get some of each flavor in every bite. Zach Stovall


A long roll-up of callaloo (a spinach-like green) and split-pea batter, sliced and deep-fried, with a dollop of tamarind or mango chutney on top, and — if you’re lucky enough to be at Mitra and Leela’s — a dab of roasted pepper. Heaven. Photographer’s note: Don’t expect to find Mitra and Leela’s on your own. There’s no sign (the place doesn’t really have a name), and once they sell out, the place folds up and disappears from the road. It’s like a saheena bat cave. Zach Stovall

Pineapple Chow

Magic happens when you mix chunks of fresh fruit with lime juice, hot pepper, salt, garlic and chadon bene, a first cousin to cilantro. It’s impossible not to go back for more. Photographer’s note: The chow looks like unassuming pineapple chunks, sweet as a prayer book. Just watch out — it’ll kick you twice on Sunday. Zach Stovall

Cow Heel Soup

Photographer’s note: While Ann chose geera (chicken, lamb or pork marinated with herbs and garlic, browned in caramelized sugar and slow-cooked with ground, roasted cumin seed), I had a run-in with a dump truck (literally) that kept me from shooting it. Nevertheless, cow-heel soup should be the “bonus” item on this list. While the cow heel itself had the texture of chicken ligaments, the carrot, potato, “green fig” (banana) and flour dumplings coated in the thick, flavorful broth made them well worth eating. Zach Stovall

Curry Goat with Buss-Up-Shut

Scoop up a chunk of tender meat and put aside all preconceptions: This goat’s neither tough nor gamey, and the strips of “buss-up” roti are perfect for capturing every last bit of sauce. Photographer’s note: The shredded roti is said to look like a busted-up shirt. The Trini accent is thick like chutney, and if you don’t say buss-up-shut (in the dialect), expect a confused look. Zach Stovall

Curry Mango

Curry, a fruit? Yep, skin, seed and all. Stuff it inside a roti with other curries, or serve as a side dish. You’re expected to pick up the pieces and suck them, all the better to savor the spicy-sweet flavor. Photographer’s note: Imagine the largest burrito you’ve ever seen, loaded with curry, and then eating around chunks of chicken bone and mango seed. Delicious, but careful eating. Zach Stovall

Buljol on a Coconut Bake

Coconut milk and fresh grated coconut in the roast bake provide a subtly sweet counterpoint to the saltfish/tomato/onion/pepper salad inside. Before you ask for extra pepper sauce, remember the name means “burn mouth.” Zach Stovall

Baighan Chokha

Smoky, fire-roasted eggplant mashed with browned bits of onion, pepper and garlic (green). Better than baba ghanoush. Chokha also comes in the tomato variety (red), with okra, a popular Trini veggie, in the background. Zach Stovall


Photographer’s note: Trini street vendors work when it’s convenient, so if they don’t feel like selling, you’re not tasting. Since I never caught up with Ann’s ginger-coconut ice-cream purveyor, I went with these sweet balls of fried split-pea flour. About the size of doughnut holes, they come glazed in either a mango or tamarind chutney sauce, and were bought from an even sweeter lady right on the roadside. Zach Stovall

Macaroni Pie

Dense, crispy-edged squares of tubular (Trini-made) pasta glued together by eggs, milk and lots of melted cheddar (with more cheese melted on top). You’re right, Jesse: Definitely not mac-and-cheese and great with a dash of pepper sauce. Photographer’s note: For even more flavor, order it topped with stewed beef and drippings. Hello, high cholesterol! Zach Stovall

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