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Oil Down Party!

November 8, 2017 0 comments

As we prepare to leave Grenada and head north,back up the island chain, I can’t help but think fondly about the last few months we’ve spent on this island.  We have had some amazing experiences here like celebrating Carnival, making new friends, going on hashes (local hikes) and exploring the island.

One of my favorite moments however, was learning how to make the national dish of Grenada, Oil Down – twice.

Oil Down

I know, the name sounds strange and kind of unappetizing, but it is hands down one of my favorite local meals to eat (other than Roti, which is chicken curry in a wrap).  I love the taste, the textures, the smell, even it’s bright yellow color.   It has a lovely coconut curry flavor and a rich, thick mouth feel that wraps around your tongue and hangs on your taste buds. My mouth is watering already.  It is just delectable.

Oil Down Party!

Photo Credit: Niall on SV Osprey

Although I love it, not everyone enjoys Oil Down. It’s kind of how most people feel about cilantro: either you love it, or you hate it (I love cilantro, btw).  At first glance, it’s not what I’d call ‘pleasing to the eye’.  It’s yellowy-orange from turmeric and has chunks and bits of everything you can imagine: meat, salted fish, vegetables, dumplings.  It is by most standards  a stew.  That being said, it gives me the same warm and fuzzy feeling I’d get if I were eating anything my mom would cook.  It’s comfort food, island style.

Up close and personal.

My kind of ‘Sunday Funday’

Now that you have a grasp of my obsession with this dish, you can understand how excited I was when I learned I could get hands on experience actually making it!  At a Sunday outing on Hog Island,  our pals Jamie and Nicci on SV Grateful  told me about a recent Oil Down bbq of sorts that they had on the beach a month earlier.  With the help of a local, they went shopping for ingredients, prepared them and then helped assemble it all to create a lovely Oil Down meal for a group of their friends.

Dave and I had been to one of these things before when we first arrived in Grenada, with our pals Mary and Nigel on SV Osprey. We spent the afternoon on a nearby beach and watched a local, Devon, make some Oil Down for us.  It was fantastic, but we hadn’t actually been a part of preparing the meal.  I was interested in gaining some more knowledge about local ingredients, so when Nicci suggested we schedule a bbq I was elated!

A few days later, we set a date for our shin dig and SV Grateful went shopping for all of the ingredients.  On Sunday, we all gathered at Roger’s Beach Bar in the late morning to clean, peel and chop all of the veggies while Sperry, a local , and his friend Slum the Jab Jab King,  readied the coconuts and prepared the meat, lobster and conch.

It took a few hours to get everything ready and then just about 1 1/2 hours to cook. It  was well worth the effort in case you were wondering!

Oil Down Party!

SV Music and SV Kailani helping to prep all of the veggies.

Oil Down Party!

Bucket o’ Breadfruit. The trick is to remove the green peel and spongey center, otherwise it will be bitter and squishy.

Oil Down Party!

Jamie cleaning the green fig. They look like a banana, but when cooked green, take on the consistency of a starch (like a plantain).

Oil Down Party!

It’s also very important to put cooking oil on your hands before cutting and peeling these because they leave a very sticky film on your hands!

Oil Down Party!

Cooking peppers, okra and carrots.

Oil Down Party!

Sperry using his homemade machete to cut and grate the coconut meat out of the shell.

Oil Down Party!

Sperry mixed fresh water with coconut shavings then squeezed and stirred it all together with his hands, which made a nice coconut milk.

Oil Down Party!

Chicken and conch (or lambi as it’s known on the island).

Oil Down Party!

Local crab next to some Spiney Lobster

Oil Down Party!

Prepping the lobster!  That big boy is a Slipper Lobster next to a Spiney.

Oil Down Party!

Slum, the Jab Jab King cleaning the pot with some salt water and sand before the cooking begins. Who needs soap anyway?

Oil Down Party!

The really…big…. pot.

Oil Down Party!

The bottom layer: some bread fruit, conch and pork mixed with spices.

Oil Down Party!

All the pretty colors 🙂 More bread fruit and crustaceans everywhere!

Oil Down Party!

Lots of calalloo covered in turmeric to top it all off.

Oil Down Party!

Dough for dumplings. Only water and flour are used to make these so they are very dense. They are rolled into logs, almost like hotdogs and are nestled into the stew to steam.

Oil Down Party!

Pouring the coconut milk into the layers of veggies and meat.

Oil Down Party!

Getting the fire ready. Large rocks keep the pot elevated and out off the ground.

Oil Down Party!

On the fire!

Oil Down Party!

We tasted some local rum while we waited for the Oil Down to cook. Turmeric root, mauby bark and cloves were just a few of the ingredients. It definitely had a kick!

Oil Down Party!

All done and ready to eat!

Oil Down Party!

Chowing down!

Oil Down Party!

Another group shot.

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