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nyam & Siddung



I spotted these magical sour punch fruits on the corner

of Academy and Broadway. Feeling guilty about

satisfying my sweet tooth, I made it a personal

mission to discover the medicinal uses of

tamarind. Nature never disappoints.


Though indigenous to eastern Africa, the

tambran tree, as it’s called in Trinidad & Tobago,

grows throughout Southeast Asia, the Caribbean

and Latin America. Brown hard shells cover the

ripe tangy paste inside each pod. The pulp sticks to the

seeds, creating a gooey texture. This extract contains

laxative properties that can relieve constipation. Some methods

involve consuming the raw pulp, while others require mixing the fruit into sweetmeats and drinks. Soaked tambran fruits can also alleviate abdominal pain. However, in Ghana the tree’s leaves help treat malaria. Likewise, common traditional medicine uses tamarind bark or leaves as a powder or poultice to heal wounds. 


Tambran also offers attractive nutritional facts. The high levels of iron in the fruit ensure the body has enough red blood cells to generate oxygen throughout our muscles and organs. The presence of the compound hydroxycitric acid encourages weight loss as it contains an enzyme that can store fat. Additionally, tambran is a strong source of Vitamin B1(thiamin), which promotes nerve functions, boosts muscle development and strengthens reflexes. 


This burgundy tart fruit finds itself on many plates around the world. People tend to add its sour flavor to sauces, curries and sweets. Children in Gambia mix the tambran leaves with fig tree sap to make chewing gum. Check out two easy recipes and the nutrition facts for tambran below.


Nutrition Facts

Serving Size: 100 g (3.5 oz), raw

Calories: 239

Total Fat: 0.6 g

    Saturated Fat: 0.3 g

Sodium: 28 mg

Total Carbohydrate: 63 g

     Dietary Fiber: 5.1 g

     Sugar: 39 g

Protein: 2.8 g 

Vitamin C:         6%                              Thiamin:             29%


Calcium:            7%                             Iron:                  16%


Magnesium:      23%                            Potassium:          13%

Precent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet



Tambran Sauce



10 ripe, shelled and deveined tamarinds

2 1/4 to 3 1/4 cups hot water

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 cup brown sugar

1 to 2 teaspoons Caribbean green seasoning 

Salt and hot pepper sauce to taste




  1. Remove the shells from the tamarind pods and place them into a bowl.

  2. Pour 2 1/4 cups of hot water on the pods and let it sit for 5 minutes.

  3. Use a potato masher or a large spoon to press the pods against the bottom of the bowl.               Continue this circular motion until all the pulp releases into the water. 

  4. Quickly stir in 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda until it dissolves.

  5. Add 1 cup of brown sugar and mix until the sugar disappears.

  6. Mix in the 1 to 2 teaspoons of Caribbean green seasoning. Also add the salt and hot pepper sauce.     Be sure to taste your sauce to assess the sourness and sweetness. You can add 1/4 cup of warm         water to loosen your sauce.


Recipe from


Sparkling Tamarind Tea



1 cup water

1 cup seltzer water

3/4 cup sugar

3 black tea bags

1 tablespoon tamarind paste




  1. Bring the water and sugar to a boil in a saucepan. 

  2. Remove the heat and add the black tea bags, letting the tea steep for

      5 minutes.

​   3. Throw out the tea bags and pour 1/3 cup of tea into a bowl.

  4. Stir in the tamarind paste in the bowl and then mix the liquid back into the saucepan.

  5. Allow the syrup to cool down to room temperature. 

  6. Pour 1/3 of your new syrup into a tall glass and stir in 1 cup of seltzer water. Serve over ice.


Recipe from

Read more about tambran here:

PUTTY GAL (Portugal)


The local name for this tangy citrus fruit caused quiet

a hilarious moment in culture exchange. For about

five minutes in a crowded market, Mr. Lenny tried to

tell me this fruit is “Putty gal.” Completely confident

he was saying pretty girl, I repeated “Oh it’s pretty

gyal,” only to hear him correct me and say no

“Putty gal.” Positive we were saying the same words,

I asked him to spell it. He did. “P-O-R-T-U-J-A-N like the

country,” he said. Immediately we started dying with

laughter because Portugal in Trinidadian English truly

does sound like a Jamaican saying, “Aye pretty gyal.”

Of course, with such an introduction five green putty

gals came home with me as the fruit of the week. 


Locals categorize portugal as a type of tangerine, but

its yellow green skin when ripe suggests it may be a citrus hybrid similar to Kabosu from Japan. Nonetheless, it definitely belongs to the mandarin family of citrus fruits, which means it offers several health benefits. We all know citrus fruits tend to have high levels of Vitamin C, which helps build strong blood vessels, bones and skin. However, they also provide several other essential nutrients such as folate, which aids in the production of new cells, and potassium. Portugals actually have a high percentage of potassium. Our bodies use this essential electrolyte to regulate a normal blood pressure, maintain balance between water and acid, and transmit nerve impulses to muscles. 


While most people enjoy portugals, like most citrus fruits, raw, on the island this sweet and sour fruit finds its way into mojitos, chow, desserts and tropical natural juices. Check out the nutrition facts and recipes for portugals below.


Nutrition Facts

Serving Size: 3.5 oz (100 g)


Calories: 47

Total Fat: 0 g

Cholesterol: 0 mg

Sodium: 1 mg

Potassium: 177 mg

Total Carbohydrates: 12 g

Dietary Fiber: 2 g

Sugars: 9 g

Protein: 1 g


Vitamin A: 0%                                        Vitamin C: 59%


Calcium: 3%                                           Iron: 1% 


Precent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.




Portugal Chow



3 portugals

2 cloves of garlic

12 leaves of chadon beni (true cilantro)

1/4 cup of water

salt and pepper to taste




  1. Wash, peel and separate the segments of the portugals. Then, place into a bowl.

  2. Chop the chadon beni and add it to the bowl.

  3. Mash and chop the garlic. Then, add the garlic with the salt and pepper to the bowl.

  4. Toss all the ingredients



Recipe from:

Image from:


Saga Boy Mojito



2 oz white rum (brand of choice)

.5 oz lime juice

5 seedless portugal segments 

8-10 mint leaves

Splash of soda water or Sprite

2 dashes orange bitters (brand of choice)




  1. Wash and peel 1 portugal

  2. Separate and deseed 4 segments




  1. Add white rum, lime juice, mint leaves and portugal segments.

  2. Use a muddling stick to smash the portugal segments and other ingredients.

  3. Fill the glass with ice.

  4. Pour a splash of soda water or Sprite and 2 dashes of orange bitters

  5. Garnish with fresh mint and a portugal peel.


Receipe from:

Image from:


Read more about portugal and similar fruits here:


If you grew up in a Caribbean household, our fruit of the

week, caraili, may conjure some unforgettable miseries

from childhood. Still feeling victimized, my aunt yelled

out, “I want no parts of dat fruit. Get it away!,” upon

seeing my market discovery. This common home

remedy is known as cerasee or bitter melon on

many islands; however, Trinidadian and

Tobagonian locals refer to it as caraili. So in the

spirit of back to school season, I could not resist

picking the popular bush’s green prickly unripe

bitter fruit from the Tunapuna market last week. As

I am sure several Caribbean children may have had

swift deep swallows of the cerasee tea earlier last week,

I felt it proper to share the medicinal value of the caraili

leaves and fruits. 


The infamous cerasee tea comes from boiling down the plant’s leaves and stems. People consume the tea to alleviate and sometimes cure menstrual cramps, hypertension, scabies, ringworm, asthma, eczema, diabetes, glaucoma, parasitic worms. It's also used as blood and body detoxes. Women in Latin America and the Caribbean use the tea to cleanse a female’s body nine days after giving birth and as an herbal alternative to contraception if two cups are taken daily after intercourse for three days. In 2008, China actually investigated the fruit’s seeds as a potential contraceptive. More recently, studies at the University of Miami found that extracts from fruit contain guanylate cyclase, which can stop the growth of cancer cells. Meanwhile, the Sloan-Kettering Institute works to possibly use the herb to cure leukemia. Nevertheless, patients with breast and prostate cancers have seen a decrease in the spread of their cancers when consuming the plant. 


Moreover, the presence of vitamins A and C, iron, calcium, zinc and dietary fiber make this bitter caraili worth the bite or sip. Here on the island, locals have innovative ways of incorporating the cerasee into their cuisine. Most tend to fry it like okra with garlic, onions and scotch bonnet peppers to make a dish called chow. However, if you’re patient, the yellow fruit is sweet when ripe. Check below for the nutritional facts and recipes for caraili.


Please be advised that cerasee tea should not be consumed for more than nine consecutive days as it can lead to liver damage. Also, the red seeds in the ripe fruit are toxic to children. Additionally, patients with G6PD should not consume caraili in any form as it can induce fauvism symptoms and severe anemia. Also, pregnant woman are strongly advised not to eat or drink caraili. 


Nutrition Facts

Serving Size 100 grams, pods, raw


Calories: 17

Cholesterol: 0 mg

Total Carbohydrate: 3.7 g

Dietary fiber: 2.8 g

Protein: 1 g

Total Fat: .17 g



Sodium: 5 mg

Potassium: 296 mg



Vitamin A:  9%                         Vitamin C:  140%



Calcium:  2%                           Iron:  5%

Magnesium 4%                        Zinc: 7%


Precent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet



Bitter Melon Green Apple Juice




1 Caraili fruit 

2 Green Apples

1 Slice of Lemon




  1. Slice the two green apples into small pieces. Be sure to remove the core and all seeds.

  2. Cut the caraili in half and deseed using a spoon. Then, cut it into small pieces

  3. Put everything into a juicer or blender.

  4. Drink


Recipe from



Fried Caraili




1 large Caraili

2 pimento peppers

2 cloves of garlic

1 small onion

1 tsp of oil

Salt and black pepper to taste




  1. Slice the Caraili into circles by chopping one inch rings from the bottom of the fruit to its stem.

  2. Chop up the garlic, onion and pimento peppers.

  3. Heat the oil in a frying pan over a medium flame.

  4. Put the chopped garlic, onion and pimento peppers into the pan and leave until golden brown. If the seasoning starts to burn, add a little water.

  5. Mix in the chopped caraili rings. 

  6. Fry until the caraili is slightly brown.

  7. Add salt and pepper to taste


Recipe from

Read more about Caraili here:,141461.html



You may know it by its more common name star fruit,

but here on the island locals refer to this sweet and

sour citrus flavored fruit as five finger or sometimes

carambola, its scientific name. However, my

neighborhood fruit man, Mr. Anthony, describes

it as “the one for the 6-pack ladies.” He might

be on to something. Five fingers are known to

help increase blood pressure for those who

struggle with low blood pressure, especially

children. Many locals will use the fruit to make

wines, juices and jams that can ease certain

ailments. Nevertheless, star fruit provides several

health benefits including Vitamin C, offering 57%

of the daily recommended in one serving, 4 grams of fiber

per serving and even vitamin B6. The antioxidants present in the fruit are also known to prevent inflammation, while folk medicine rituals place slices of the fruit on the temples to reduce headaches.

Check out the nutritional facts and the local recipes for five fingers jam and wine below.

Nutrition Facts

Serving Size: 3.5 ounces (100 grams), raw


Calories: 31

Total Fat: 0 g

Cholesterol: 0 g

Sodium: 2 mg

Total Carbohydrates: 7 g

Dietary Fiber: 3 g

Sugar: 4 g

Protein:1 g

Vitamin A:1%                            Vitamin C: 57%

Calcium: 0%                              Iron: 0%


Precent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet



Five Fingers Jam

Time: Approx. 50 minutes




8 1/2 cups of fresh five fingers, sliced and deseeded

3 1/2 cups of water (add more if necessary)

3 cinnamon sticks

3 cups of brown sugar

4 bay leaves, chopped




  1. Wash the fruit

  2. Cut the fruit by first slicing off the ends and the tops of each ridge. Then, cut out the core (like an apple) and slice the fruit horizontally into little stars. Be sure to remove any seeds that may remain.

  3. Place fruit into a saucepan

  4. Add water and boil until the fruit softens. Then, add cinnamon sticks.

  5. Add the sugar little by little to avoid the sugar burning. Continue until the jam sets.

  6. Pour into jar and seal


Recipe from Chef Mervyn’s Kitchen



Five Fingers Wine

Time: 31 days




25 five fingers

1 1/2 pack yeast (16.5 g)

12 lbs sugar

2 1/4 gal of water

1/2 lb raisins




  1. Boil and cool 2 1/4 gal of water

  2. Place water in a bucket or large container




  1. Wash and slice the five fingers

  2. Add the five fingers to the water in a large container or bucket. 

  3. Add the yeast and 6 lbs of sugar and stir

  4. Cover the container and leave in a cool dry place for 21 days

  5. Pour out the wine and sweeten with the remaining 6 lbs of sugar

  6. Strain the wine using a cloth and pour it into a sterilized bottle or container. 

  7. Add raisins to help clear the wine and leave it for 10 days. Be sure not to tightly seal the bottles.

  8. After 10 days, strain the wine again.

  9. Bottle the wine and store in a cool dry place.


Recipe from



Read more about Five Fingers here:



The look and smell alone of noni may be enough to send you

running, but if you hold your breath and take a chance, you’ll

find that noni offers the most impactful medicinal components

for your overall health. The tree originated in Southeast

Asia, India, the Pacific Islands and Australia, and tends to

grow along lava flows. Most people know noni can

boost the immune system and keep skin young due to its

popularity in commercial medicine. However, despite the

lack of immense scientific research, people use noni to

stimulate menstrual flow, relieve malaria fever, and soothe

symptoms of depression.  The juice extracted from the ripe

fruit can aid digestion, alleviate arthritis and reduce fatigue

in cancer patients. Hawaiians and Tahitians use the fruit,

leaves, bark, stem and roots of noni for numerous medicinal

purposes including the treatment of urinary tract infections, intestinal

worms and loss of appetite. When applied to the skin, the fruit extract can

help heal bruises, sprains, swellings and wounds. Here in Trinidad and Tobago, several users tend to ferment the fruit juice, creating a bittersweet tonic. See below for the nutrition facts and recipes for noni. 


Nutrition Facts

Serving Size: 100 grams (3.5 oz); pure juice


Calories: 15.3

Total Fat: <0.1 g

    Saturated Fat: <0.1 g

Sodium: 10.5 mg

Total Carbohydrate: 3.4 g

     Dietary Fiber: <0.2 g

     Sugar: 1.49 g

Protein: 0.43 g 

Vitamin C: 33.65 mg         

Calcium: 10.1 mg




Fresh Noni Juice



1 noni fruit

1/2 - 1 cup of water



  1. Wash and peel the noni fruit. Chop into smaller slices.

  2. Pour the water and noni into the blender and blend until thick.

  3. Use a rubber spatula to remove the juice. Transport the juice from the blender into a sieve placed over a jug or funnel. 

  4. Continue this process until the blender is empty then serve in a glass.


Recipe from:


Noni Fruit Leather Tea Recipe



1/2 cup noni puree

1/2 cup organic apple juice

3 cups water

1 organic cinnamon stick




  1. Add all ingredients to a jar.

  2. Close the jar and shake well.

  3. Refrigerate or serve over ice.


Recipe from:


Learn more about noni here:



This lime green pear shaped fruit goes by several names:

chayote, chocho, sayote, vegetable pear and mirlitons.

However, in Trinidad and Tobago locals refer to it as

christophine. The fruit grows on a vine and belongs to the

gourd family, which explains its squash-like exterior and

melon-like interior. Though quiet bland in taste,

christophine offers several mouthwatering medicinal uses.

The fruit helps treat high blood pressure, kidney stones

and indigestion. In addition, the elevated levels of folates,

which promote cell division and DNA synthesis, also aid in

female fertility and cancer prevention. Woman who regularly

eat christophine before and during early pregnancy can reduce

neural tube defect in their newborn babies. It’s low calorie, no

cholesterol and fibrous properties make it a common addition to

several weight loss programs. The presence of zinc, magnesium, calcium

and potassium only adds to the health benefits found in christophine. Zinc provides assistance in wound healing and enriches our sense of smell and taste, while calcium and magnesium strengthen bones, as potassium boosts muscle and nerve function. Check below for the nutritional facts and recipes for christophine. 


Nutrition Facts

Serving Size: 100 g (3.5 oz), raw


Calories: 19

Total Fat: 0 g

    Saturated Fat: 0 g

Sodium: 2 mg

Total Carbohydrate: 5 g

     Dietary Fiber: 2 g

     Sugar: 2 g

Protein:1 g 


Vitamin C:         13%                     Folate:                23%


Calcium:            2%                       Zinc:                    5%

Magnesium:       3%                       Potassium:            4%

Precent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet



Roasted Chocho



2 chocho

2 tsp of dried thyme

1 tsp of garlic

1/4 tsp himalayan pink salt

1/2 tsp onion powder

1/2 tsp black pepper

spring onions for garnish

coconut oil



1. Preheat oven to 374° F 

2. Line a large roasting pan with parchment paper



  1. Cut each chocho in half and remove the seed. Thinly slice the pulp and place them in a large mixing bowl.

  2. Combine all the dry seasoning and put them in a separate bowl.

  3. Massage a very small amount of coconut oil into the slices of chocho using clean hands. 

  4. Coat each slice of chocho with the herb mixture, ensuring that all slices are covered in seasoning.

  5. Place the chocho in even sections onto the roasting pan. You can sprinkle a little spring onions on top, but save some to garnish

  6. Roast for 40 minutes or until the chocho is crisp and golden. At the 20 minute mark, turn over the chocho.


Recipe from:


Christophine Gratin



3 lbs christophine

1 lb tomatoes

1/2 cup dry bread crumbs

1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley

1/3 cup olive oil 

1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese

1 tsp dried oregano

1 tsp salt

1 tsp minced garlic

1 tsp fresh ground black pepper



1. Preheat oven to 350° F



  1. Slice tomatoes into thick slices, a quarter inch each.

  2. Peel and cut christophines into a quarter inch slices.

  3. Steam christophines with a pinch of salt for five minutes and then drain.

  4. Mix bread crumbs, parsley, oregano, salt, pepper, parmesan cheese and garlic together.

  5. Add 1tbs of olive oil to the mixture.

  6. Lightly grease an oven-safe dish with olive oil. Place one row of christophine, then a row of tomatoes. Continue until all vegetables are used and overlapping. 

  7. Sprinkle the dry ingredients and oil mixture on top.

  8. Drizzle the remaining olive oil on top.

  9. Bake for 30 minutes until crust is brown.


Recipe from:


Read more about christophine here:

NYAM & SIDDUNG is an ongoing nutrition project that highlights organic fruits and vegetables found in local community open-air farmer's markets. Here you can view our produce picks and recipes. Do you have a fresh find you'd like to see featured? Please click here to contact PATCHWERK.
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