Grenada - Kalinago Resort & Oil Down

Kalinago Resort - Morne Rouge Bay

We had the opportunity to spend the day at Kalinago Resort (my cousins were staying here during their visit).  We had lunch at the restaurant, swam in the pool, had some drinks at the bar.

Swim up bar

Lunch at the restaurant was delightful - we sat outside on the balcony and watched the bay while we enjoyed our lunches.  Here are a few shots of some of our choices:

Root Vegetable Soup
Fresh Salads
Salt Cod and Plantain Salad
Curry Chicken Roti - (we got one to go later)

The best part of the day for me was the opportunity to observe a cooking demonstration put on by the staff (great timing!).  Chef Rasheeda was delighted to show us how to prepare Grenada's National dish, Oil Down.

This dish is a typical West Indian dish - utilizing local produce and ingredients that people here have been cooking with for a long time.  The dish quite surprised me in its simplicity and with its complexity of flavours.  Even though I have grown up eating many of these foods, I had yet to experience Oil Down.

Oil Down gets its name from the sheen of coconut oil that is visible on the top layer of the dish - once the coconut milk has all evaporated during the cooking process.  It is a one-pot meal that begs to be shared with friends and family.  It was merely by chance that we were here on this day, to experience this, but I cannot express how pleased I am that we did.

It contains any combination of ground provisions (potatoes, yams, dasheen, eddoes), breadfruit, green bananas (or bluggoes), salted meat/fish, vegetables, herbs, aromatics, turmeric and always, fresh coconut milk.  The ingredients are layered in a large pot, covered with coconut milk, then banana leaves, and left to cook for a couple of hours.

First layer was seasoned chicken wings (typically salt pig tails are used), followed by green bananas (a type of banana meant to be eaten green - starchy and firm texture, but not sweet)

The layering begins
Next comes a layer of vegetables.

Green banana, pumpkin, chistophene (chayote squash), yam, and eddoes
Carrots, cabbage, callaloo leaves/spinach.

The last layer was salt fish (salt fish when used in these preparations has usually been soaked in cold water overnight, then rinsed).

The dish coming together
Fresh coconut milk and turmeric
The more dense items are placed near the bottom (also any raw meats) and the softer more delicate items are placed closer to the top.

Mise en place

Charcoal pot

Fire lit under the pot and ready for cooking
The finished plate
The wafting food smells coming from the cooking area were unmistakable and they needn't have bothered to summon us as people were already gathering around the tables that had been arranged for the feast.  One would think that upon seeing the plate set before them, that it would be a homogeneous blend of flavours.  Far from it - with the exception of the soft vegetable layer (cabbage, callaloo), all the ingredients held their cohesion and their structural integrity was maintained.  This in itself is a feat, when considering the ingredients were all cooked together.  The idea is to set it and forget it.  The delicate flavours of coconut milk and turmeric permeated the whole dish.  It served to enhance the natural flavours of the vegetables.  The seasoning on the chicken (curry, onion, garlic, fresh herbs) also added a nice flavour to the broth - which in turn was absorbed by all the vegetables. I have to say, there wasn't much talking being done at this point - a Swedish family beside us was getting right into the dish - he said he and his family loved Grenada and especially loved Oil Down.  There were a few dissenters among the group, but that didn't stop the adventurous from trying it for the first time.

It should be noted that we had a huge lunch this day and we decided that we would only get a couple of plates of the oil down and share them between the seven of us.  My brother thought that we should perhaps add a third plate, just in case - good call!  For a group of people who weren't hungry, there wasn't a mouthful left - every bone was picked clean.  Absolutely delectable.  Of course, I will try and re-create this one day and I hope I can do it justice.

End of another perfect day

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