Amaranthus gangeticus, “Green callaloo,” “Red callaloo,” Calalou, Kalalou
Basics: Red callaloo grows quickly, like Green callaloo. Plant in full sun to part shade after danger of frost has passed, 2 feet apart. 45 days, can grow to 6 feet. Tip to encourage fresh side growth and continuously harvest the leaves and stems. Best when tender. Pinch off any seed growth or leaves will become bitter. Cut back and harvest until fall frost.
AMARANTH— just one of many greens that are the key to Calalou, an ancient dish that contains multitudes– historically, and of ingredients. See below for more about this great dish, with recipes and alternative greens. The Haitian Creole word for okra is also “kalalou,” or “gombo,” to give you an idea of how the names of plants are so deeply intertwined with the cuisine. Another important ingredient in traditional calalou recipes is crab, which is also a Pacific Northwest delicacy.
Krab nan kalalou!
As a green on its own, Green or Red Callaloo amaranth is delicious cooked like spinach or any other potherb and it’s consumed all over the world as such. In Greece, they boil the stems to eat with the leaves, for an asparagus-like flavor.
This amaranth is not grown for its seeds at all, and the leaves will taste bitter if you let seeds form, so be sure pinch the tips of the plant as it grows– it will form many smaller branches with fresh, tender leaves, allowing you to harvest fresh greens all summer long. Amaranth “Callaloo” grows to be very tall, with a very impressive trunk!
Plant in full sun to partial shade, and water regularly until it is established. Callaloo amaranth grows very quickly and is ready for eating within 45 days. In mid to late summer, it becomes highly drought tolerant and requires minimal watering, especially if it is in partial shade.
A vegetarian version from the pages of Chowhound:
1 lb callaloo greens
1 lb okra, topped and tailed
1 medium-size onion, coarsely chopped
1 bouquet garni: scallions, fresh thyme, and parsley
salt and pepper to taste
1⁄2 scotch bonnet pepper, minced
6 1⁄2 c water
1 clove garlic, minced
1⁄2 lb cooked ham, cut into 1/4-inch dice
juice of three limes
Clean the callaloo thoroughly, and remove the woody ribs. Chop the okra and the callaloo and place them in a large saucepan. Add the onion, bouquet garni, salt and black pepper, chili, and water. Bring to a boil and cook, covered, over a medium flame for 30 minutes. Remove the mixture from the heat and put it through a food mill until it is a smooth purée. Throw it back in the saucepan and add the garlic, ham, and lime juice. Continue to cook over medium low heat for 10 minutes. Do not allow the soup to come to a second boil or it will lose its texture. Serve immediately.
Most calalou variations involve crab or other crustaceans- here is a more classic version of the recipe, with directions: Caribbean Calalou.
Calalou or callaloo greens can refer not just to okra and amaranth, but also to jute and dasheen, or taro. Any of these leaves can be found in the freezer section of most Asian markets. Versions of jute-based calalloo can be traced back to the thick green stew of Nigeria, called Ewedu.
See the Congo Cookbook’s page on Calalu to tie it all together.
Corchoris olitorius, aka Jute, or Jew’s Mallow, Melokhiya, Molokhiya, Saluyot, and many other names, can also be grown as an annual in Oregon, if started early in greenhouse conditions. It is a key ingredient for a regional Haitian dish called LALO (from the Haitian Observer, based on a recipe in Fine Haitian Cuisine by Mona Cassion Ménager). The meat is prepared the day before.
“How to prepare Lalo Legume Fey?
Lalo Legume Fey requires nearly 2 hours for cooking. 2 4-quart pans are required for crab and meat while 1 heavy and round 8-quart pan is required for the entire dish.
The following ingredients are required:
Mixed fresh greens torn to pieces – 7 pounds.
Fresh pork – 1 1/2 pounds. Pork must be cooked using the recipe Pork in Creole Sauce.
Crab legs – 1 pound. This must be cooked using the recipe Lobster in Creole Sauce.
Vegetable Oil – 2 tablespoon.
Pepper and Salt.
After trimming excess fat from the pork, it should be cut into pieces of 2 inches cubes and then cooked and kept aside. Crab shall also be cooked and set aside. Oil should be heated in 8-quart dish over medium setting and then greens should be added and cooked until they are wilted. Because of the large amount of greens, they should be added in parts. The greens should be cooked for about 10 minutes by covering the pan. Once the greens are wilted, crab and pork along with their sauces and cooked for another 15 minutes until the sauce becomes thick. Occasional stirring will be required. Pepper and salt must be added as per taste. Lalo Legume Fey should then be served with white rice when hot. One dish can serve up to 6 people.”