Ground Provisions with Pigeon Peas, Smoked Salmon, and Coconut

Ground Provisions with Pigeon Peas, Smoked Salmon, and Coconut‘Ground Provisions’ was a rather obscure sounding dish when I first came across it. Interestingly it’s a pretty straight forward idea. They are simply ground-based vegetables, AKA roots, tubers, corms, and rhizomes, that are providing the carbohydrates for the meal. These are most often potatoes, sweet potatoes, African/Asian yams, taro, cassava, squash, or plantains, even though those grow on trees. Basically these vegetables replace the need for rice; doing so more nutritiously.

A typical dish will have more than one type of vegetable among the ground provisions. This can be a matter of personal taste or simply what is available. Next they can either make the base of the dish, literally, as boiled or steamed chunks or mash on the plate that is topped with a stew-like sauce and meat, or they are simply added right in with a soup our stew and everything is served together.

For the recipe below I used just taro, which I boiled and gave a minor mashing. The stew on top is very Trinidad influenced with the use of coconut milk, while smoked or salted fish is common throughout the Caribbean. I finally chose pigeon peas for something new and interesting, and I was not disappointment. They have a nice firm texture and nutty flavor that paired well with the allspice and paprika.

You’ll notice that one whole hot chili is thrown into the pot. The reason for this to bring the flavor of the chili and just a little heat. It is important to note that it hasn’t been cut. If you want to bring spice to your dish is is easy enough to simply chop this chili, and trust me, it will bring the heat!

Taro Root ‘Ground Provisions’ – Trinidad Style with Coconut Milk

By: Semiserious Chefs
Serves: 4


  • 1 pound peeled taro root (or potato)
  • 6-8 oz smoked salmon or reconstituted salt fish
  • 15 oz pigeon peas; drained
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 8 heads garlic; minced
  • 1 bunch green onions; chopped
  • 4 roma or vine tomatoes; chopped
  • 1/2 cup chopped yellow or orange bell pepper
  • 1 scotch bonnet or habanero chili – whole
  • 4 culantro leaves (ngo gai); chopped (optional)*
  • 4 T chopped cilantro
  • 1 t dry thyme
  • 12 allspice berries; ground
  • 1/4 t paprika
    • smoked to go with salted cod, or Hungarian to go with smoked salmon
  • 1/2 t chicken bullion powder
  • 1/4 t ground pepper
  • salt to taste
  • olive oil

*These are a more flavorful long leaf with similar flavor to cilantro, but not related. You should be able to find them in an international market, as they are common in both Latin American and Asian cuisine.


  1. Boil the peeled taro (cut into chucks if it’s a large root) for 20-30 minutes, until tender enough to easily push a fork through.
  2. Using a little bit of olive oil, saute the garlic for a couple of minutes in a medium sized pot over medium-high heat. Add the pigeon peas, tomatoes, bell peppers, green onions, culantro, cilantro, whole chili, dried thyme, allspice, paprika, bullion, pepper, and salt, to the garlic, along with the water and coconut milk.
  3. Simmer over medium for 10 minutes.
  4. Add the smoked salmon or reconstituted salt fish, and simmer for another 5 minutes.
  5. Plate each dish with a portion of the boiled taro. This can be left in large chunks, cut down to a smaller size, or even mashed according to preference. Then top with a generous helping of the fish and pea stew.

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