Meatless Monday -St. Martin

Jan 2014

I’m bringing you the first Meatless Monday post of 2014 from St. Martin.  On an island, many restaurants rely on imported cargo for their ingredients, but here I found quite a few places with plenty of options that are fresh and local.

pineal island fresh seafood langoustine lobster

Fresh langoustines were on so many menus.  It was hard to wait, but the highly recommended Karabuni restaurant was rumored to have the best.  I’m so glad I delayed my gratification for our day trip to Pinel Island to indulge in this favorite.

langoustine seafood saint martin

At the beachside Karabuni restaurant, you pick your selection right from the gently lapping nearby Carribean and with only the smallest amount of garnish, it is grilled up right before your eyes.  Sweet as can be! My patience was rewarded…

gumbo saint martin seafood

We found the influence of India in many of the dishes served hear, especially the seafood gumbos.  Colombo powder, or poudre de Colombo, is very similar to curry powder or Garam Masala with the addition of roasted uncooked rice.  This imparts a nutty taste and adds to the fragrant and pungent characteristics of the flavor profile.  The spice combo gets its name from Sri Lanka’s Colombo, and the legacy left by the workers the French imported from India and Sri Lanka to work on the sugar cane plantations.

gumbo butternut squash saint martin
The eco friendly Loterie Farm has many local ingredients on their menu.  This butternut squash with local seafood had just a hint of the Colombo spice.  It perfectly balanced the sweetness of the coconut flavored sauce.  And fried bananas-well they were as good as desert.  I thought it would be fun to try and recreate this spice combination once I returned home to savor the island vibe a bit longer.  

Photo by Glenn Koenig via Los Angeles Times

When making a spice mixture, it is best to use whole spices, as they contain essential oils which release as soon as they are ground.  The taste will be much more intense if you take this extra step and grind the spices yourself.  The unused whole spice will have a much longer shelf life than ground spice.  Whole spices can be found in ethnic markets, online and now in many grocery stores.  The rice acts as a  thickener when cooking , so it’s great in soups and stews.

Poudre de Colombo

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Yield: 1 Cup


1/4 cup uncooked white rice
1/4 cup cumin seeds
1/4 cup coriander seeds
1 tablespoon black mustard seeds (yellow or brown will due and are less spicy)
1 tablespoon black peppercorns
1 tablespoon fenugreek seeds
1 teaspoon whole cloves
1/4 cup turmeric

Toast the rice over medium heat in a dry skillet until a lightly golden. This process will take about 5 minutes, shake the pan often to prevent burning.  Let the rice cool on a platter.

Place the remaining spices, except the turmeric, into the skillet and cook over medium heat until fragrant and toasty. Again shaking the pan often to prevent burning. This will take about 3 minutes. Transfer the mixture to a plate or platter to cool.
Place the cooled rice and spices into a spice mill, blender, or food processor. Grind into a fine powder. Place the powder into a bowl and thoroughly stir in the turmeric.
Your Colombo Powder is finished. Store the seasoning in an airtight labeled jar where it will keep for several months.

Do you try and bring back a unique taste when you return from a vacation?  I’d love to hear about any recipes you’ve tried.

  1. Joyce says:

    We always try and brink back the summer flavors of Nantucket to our home. So glad you had a great time in St. Martin. Happy New Year!

  2. Liz says:

    Take me to SXM now please