A Yummy Taste Of St. Helena Island | Sharon Henry
When it comes to food St Helena plo, a pilau recipe 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 wonder is a simple comfort food that will put you in a happy mood 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 how to cook pilau – and of course on St Helena we have our own spin on the rice pilaf recipe.
How To Cook St Helena Food
St Helena food displays a mishmash of our British, Malay, Indian, African and Chinese heritage. Our homestyle food is simple and wholesome, nothing showy and is 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 a homemade food that is adaptable to tastes, you can use whatever is lurking in the fridge or what you happen have in your kitchen. It’s great for anyone looking for healthy one pot meals. 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 hearty food people take on pub crawls or enjoy at events. It also makes a regular appearance on dinner tables.
The Ultimate Good Mood Food
Although it’s popular all year round, I especially welcome this feel good food in the winter months. The warm, rich colours and flavours has the power to brighten any dreary day and will have you feeling awesome and cosy from the first mouthful.
No matter your cooking skills, from beginning to end, plo can be on the table within 30 minutes. It’s perfect for quick one pot meals and you can make enough to heat up for next day’s dinner. Also, this one pot wonder is blissfully easy on the washing up – definitely a bonus in my book!
Here’s how to cook pilau / St Helena Plo. The recipe really should come with a…WARNING! Danger of addiction and gluttony.
Bacon and Sausage Plo / Pilau 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
How To Cook Pilau / St Helena Plo
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. This is a basic curry paste recipe.
Stir in the meat to the curry sauce 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:
To make this plo as a fish recipe add the fish 10 minutes after the rice and vegetables. White plo can be made for non curry fans, simply omit the curry powder.
This dish is just as tasty without meat, making it excellent for one pot vegetarian meals and it can be easily adapted to make vegan curry recipes.
Saints use Robertsons Rajah curry powder imported from South Africa as opposed to mixing our own. According to the Robertsons website, the Rajah medium curry powder recipe 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.
I cooked this this all the way in norway, am not even st helenian, I dont even know how this dish is suppose to taste, But damn my dish turned out pretty well, Will improve for next time, and have less rice 😂 Learningthis dish made me learn the spanish paella very easy too. Thank you. I think i falled in love with St Helena, The island far away, I will visit oneday. Hopefully.
Hi Maria. Wow great to hear you’ve fallen for our island through a love of St Helena plo! It is deliciously more-ish so sounds like your cooking was spot on. It’s one of those dishes that is easy to adjust to your tastes (so less rice 🙂 ) and to use up whatever ingredients you have in the fridge. We hope you do get to visit us one day and enjoy and authentic plate of plo. 🙂
My childhood love along WITH bread and dance we fought for the last bowls 😍
I like Kidney beans in my chicken Plo recently we been putting brown lentils in as well it still taste good
I already had my lesson from Marcie which was great and delicious vegetarian outcome
Excellent, great to hear that vegetarian’s like plo too! 🙂
Love your writing style, Sharon. Certainly brightened a wintery day, reading your column this morning! I’ve never used kidney beans so defo gonna try that next time. Thanks for the tip.
Love and hugz to to the family.
Thank you Kim from the compliment and glad you got a useful tip to try on your next pot of plo. Excellent nourishment for these winter months. 🙂
Thank you Kim for the compliment and so glad that you got a useful tip to try for your next pot of plo. Excellent nourishment for this winter weather. 🙂
Brought back lovely memories of childhood .Haven’t made any for ages. Guess what’s for dinner tonight.
Excellent hope you had thumbs up ‘plodits’ Shirley!
Hey, very good – what the Saints do next!!
I always remember the aroma of nanna Crowies curry when we used to visit wished I’d asked for the recipe .it smelt like no curry I’ve smelt since x
Ah what a shame, and nobody makes food like our grandmas 🙂