Traditional French Caribbean Christmas Stew

(Contributed by Garry Vroegh <>)
Ingredients Directions
  • 1½ pounds of Caribbean lamb/kid (leg or shoulder)
  • 2 tablespoons canola or olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 6 galic cloves, minced
  • 2 bunches of chives or 1 bunch of scallions, finely chopped
  • 2 teaspoons minced fresh ginger
  • 3 tablespoons Poudre de Colombo
  • 2 tsp. fresh thyme
  • 5-6 cups chicken or vegetable stock or water
  • 2 tablespoons of tomato paste
  • 1 pound potatoes or boniatos (caribbean sweet potatoes), peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces.
  • 1 pound Butternut squash or Calabaza (West Indian Pumpkin), peeled, seeded, and cut into 1-inch pieces.
  • 1 tablespoon of fresh lime juice or to taste.
Note: The traditional meat is either cabri, young kid, or mouton, Caribbean lamb. You also can make an excellent columbo for Christmas with modern lamb, as long as you trim the excess fat. This version is a little wetter than most to have plenty of gravy to spoon over the rice or couscous.

1. Trim the fat and the fell, and cut the meat into 1-inch cubes. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large saut´ pan. Season the meat with the salt and pepper and brown on all sides over high heat, working in several batches to keep from crowding the pan. Transfer the meat to a platter with a slotted spoon.

2. Pour off any fat. Heat the reamaining 1 tablespoon oil in the pan. Add the onion,garlic, chives and ginger and cook over medium heat until lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Stir in the Poudre de Columbo and cook for about a minute, or until fragrant.

3. Return the meat to the pan with the thyme, stock and tomato paste. Bring the mixture to a boil, reduce the heat, and gently simmer the meat until nearly tender. Add the potatoes amd the calabaza/squash and continue cooking for approximately 30 minutes or until the meat and vegetables are very tender. Add stock or water as necessary to keep the stew moist. The stew can be prepared in advance at this stage and reheated.

4. Just before serving, stir in lime juice to taste. Correct the seasoning. Spoon the columbo over a mound of rice or couscous. Sprinkle the cilantro on top and serve at once.

Approximately 6 servings.

Poudre de Colombo

Ingredients Directions
  • ¼ cup white rice
  • ¼ cup cumin seeds
  • ¼ cup coriander seeds
  • 1 tablespoon mustard seeds (preferably black)
  • 1 tablespoon black peppercorns
  • 1 tablespoon fenugreed seeds
  • 1 teaspoon whole cloves
  • ¼ cup tumeric

Note: Columbo is a French version of curry powder, which originated with the Sri Lankan indentured workers in the FWI. it does not carry the heat of many of the other islands. This mixture carries off-beat ingredients such as roasted rice. Roasting gives the rice a nutty flavor and makes it easier to grind. The rice acts as both a flavoring and a natural thickener. Poudre de Columbo makes a great holiday Gift, being one of the lesser-known cuisines of the Caribbean. You also can use it as you would any curry powder.

1. Cook the rice in a dry skillet over medium heat, shaking the pan frequently, until a light golden brown, about 5 minutes. Transfer the rice to a plate and let cool.

2. Add the whole spices to the skillet and cook over medium heat, shaking the pan until lightly toasted and fragrant, about 2-3 minutes. Transfer the spices to the plate to cool.

3. Combine the rice and roasted spices in a spice mill, blender, or coffee grinder and grind to a fine powder. Stir in the tumeric.

4. Store the powder in a glass jar (fancy if used for a gift). Keep away from heat and light. It will keep for several months. Makes about 1 cup.

Note: Black mustard seeds are hotter than white (white can be used in a pinch).

Return to Sheep's Creek Farm Lamb Recipes page.

© 1998 Ronald Florence
Last modified: Sun Jun 21 12:42:56 EDT 1998