A Yummy Taste Of St Helena | Sharon Henry
When it comes to food, St Helena plo is one of the island’s favourites, a spicy mix of curry and rice that hits the spot every time. Bursting with flavour this colourful, one pot concoction is a comfort food that dishes out contentment from the very first forkful.
Plo is otherwise known as pilau or pilaf to the rest of the world, a rice dish cooked in a seasoned broth believed to have originated from ancient Persia thousands of years before Christ. Paella, risotto and jambalaya are all thought to be derived from the Persian version.
As a consequence there are possibly a thousand ways of making pilau – and of course on St Helena we have our own spin on the recipe.
A Bit Of St Helena On A Plate
St Helena food displays a mishmash of our British, Malay, Indian, African and Chinese heritage. The dishes are simple and wholesome, nothing showy and are quick and easy to make. Pilau, or as the Saint dialect has shortened it to ‘plo’ (too many syllables, man), is a testament to our Eastern roots.
Every Saint has their own idea of what a good pot of plo is; some like it soupy, some stiff, some hot and others not. It can be made from bacon, chicken, sausages, corned beef, fish or combinations of the above. It’s one of those recipes that is adaptable to tastes, you can use whatever is lurking in the fridge or what you happen have in your kitchen. Just be sure there is curry powder and rice to hand.
Plo is served as a main meal and is perfect for cooking over the fire on camping trips or picnics and is the usual fare people take on pub crawls or enjoy at events. It also makes a regular appearance on dinner tables.
One Big Mix Up
Although it’s popular all year round, I especially welcome this dish in the winter months. The warm, rich colours and flavours have the power to brighten any dreary day.
No matter your cooking skills, from beginning to end plo can be on the table within 30 minutes. It’s perfect for quickie weekday meals and you can make enough to heat up for next day’s dinner. Also, this one pot dish is blissfully easy on the washing up – definitely a bonus in my book!
Here’s how to make St Helena Plo. The recipe really should come with a…WARNING! Danger of addiction and gluttony.
Bacon and Sausage Plo Recipe – From The Henry Kitchen
3 tablespoons cooking oil
225g (8 oz) long grain rice (washed)
1 onion, chopped
2 medium potatoes, chopped
1 heaped tbsp medium curry powder
2 medium carrots, sliced
1 tbsp tomato sauce
200g (8oz) runner beans (sliced)
1 tbsp tomato puree
Can kidney beans
450g (1 lb) piece bacon, chopped
150g (6oz) peas and corn
4 pork sausages, sliced
1 tsp salt
1 tsp garlic powder
Brown onion in a medium sized pot on medium heat. Add curry powder and stir until onion is covered. Mix in the tomato sauce and puree. Add 4 tbsp water to the mixture, stir and reduce to thicken the sauce.
Stir in the meat and cook for 3 mins. Stir in rice, vegetables, salt, garlic and add enough water to cover all ingredients.
Bring to the boil, stir then simmer gently partially covered until the water has evaporated and the meat, rice and vegetables are tender and cooked.
Add more water if necessary.
Stir regularly to prevent the mixture sticking to the bottom of the pot, although ‘burn’ is what determines a good pot of plo for some Saints.
St Helena Plo Variations:
When making fish plo add fish 10 minutes after the rice and vegetables. White plo can be made for non curry fans, simply omit the curry powder. And, this dish can be adapted for vegetarians as it’s just as tasty without meat.
Saints use Robertsons Rajah curry powder imported from South Africa as opposed to mixing our own. According to the Robertsons website, Rajah medium curry powder is a blend of turmeric, coriander, garlic, Bengal gram, chilli, yellow mustard, fenugreek, bay leaves, salt, cumin and fennel.
Let us know how your plo turns out, if it gets thumbs up plodits from your household or deploting thumbs down reviews. We’d love to hear from you.