Trinidadian Pastelle Recipe

Discover the vibrant flavors of Trinidad pastelle! Dive into a world of spices, traditions, and mouthwatering delights in this culinary journey.🌴🍽️ #TrinidadPastelle

Trinidad Pastelle

    Trinidad Pastelle

  • Cuisine: Trinidadian
  • Category: Appetizer
  • Prep Time:
  • Cook Time:
  • Yield: 12
  • Calories: 150 calories

Trinidadian pastelle is a beloved and cherished dish in Trinidad and Tobago, especially during the festive Christmas season. It holds a special place in the hearts and homes of Trinidadians, as it reflects the rich cultural heritage of the islands.

This traditional delicacy is a type of tamale, with its origins deeply rooted in Spanish and Amerindian influences. The core of a pastelle consists of a cornmeal dough that's typically seasoned with a blend of spices, including paprika and cayenne pepper.

However, what makes Trinidad pastelles truly unique is its flavorful and diverse filling. The filling can include a variety of ingredients such as minced meat (often chicken or beef), olives, capers, raisins, bell peppers, and aromatic pimento peppers, among others.

The mixture is seasoned to perfection and represents the fusion of African, Spanish, and Indigenous flavors that characterize Trinidadian cuisine.

To prepare pastelles, the dough is spread onto a square of banana leaf or parchment paper, a nod to the island's lush vegetation and traditional cooking methods. The seasoned filling is placed on top of the dough, and the whole package is neatly folded and tied with twine or secured with a toothpick. Pastelles are then steamed until the dough is cooked, allowing the flavors to meld together beautifully.

These delightful parcels are not only a culinary treat but also a symbol of togetherness and celebration. Families often come together to make pastelles, passing down cherished recipes and creating lasting memories during the holiday season.

The sweet and savory blend of flavors in Trinidad pastelle is a testament to the vibrant cultural tapestry of Trinidad and Tobago, making it a must-try dish for anyone looking to explore the diverse world of Caribbean cuisine.


Explore the best Trinidad pastelle recipe! Step-by-step guide to making this iconic Trinidadian dish. Dive into Caribbean flavors today. 🌴🍽️


  • 2 cups of cornmeal
  • 2 cups of water
  • 1/4 cup of vegetable oil
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 bell pepper, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup of raisins
  • 1/2 cup of chopped olives
  • 1/2 cup of capers
  • 1/2 cup of cooked and shredded chicken or beef (optional)
  • 1/2 cup of chopped pimento peppers
  • 1/2 tsp of paprika
  • 1/2 tsp of cayenne pepper (adjust to taste)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Banana leaves or parchment paper for wrapping

Method Instructions

    Prepare the Filling:
  1. Heat the vegetable oil in a pan over medium heat.
  2. Sauté the onions and garlic until they become translucent.
  3. Add the bell pepper, raisins, olives, capers, and pimento peppers. Cook for a few minutes.
  4. If you're using meat, add the shredded chicken or beef to the mixture.
  5. Season the filling with paprika, cayenne pepper, salt, and pepper. Cook until everything is well combined. Set aside.
  6. Prepare the Cornmeal Dough:
  7. In a separate bowl, mix the cornmeal and water to form a smooth dough. You may need to add more water or cornmeal to achieve the right consistency. It should hold together but not be too sticky.
  8. Assemble the Pastelles:
  9. Take a piece of banana leaf or parchment paper and cut it into squares, approximately 6x6 inches.
  10. Place a spoonful of the cornmeal dough onto the center of each square.
  11. Flatten the dough with your fingers to form a small circle.
  12. Add the Filling:
  13. Place a spoonful of the prepared filling on top of the cornmeal dough.
  14. Fold and Wrap:
  15. Carefully fold the banana leaf or parchment paper to encase the filling in the dough. Secure the edges with kitchen twine or a toothpick.
  16. Steam the Pastelles:
  17. Place the pastelles in a steamer and steam for about 45 minutes to an hour until the dough is fully cooked.
  18. Serve:
  19. Allow the pastelles to cool slightly before serving. Traditionally, they are enjoyed during the Christmas season in Trinidad.

Making pastelles can be a bit time-consuming, but the end result is absolutely worth it. Enjoy your homemade Trinidad pastelles!

Recipe Video

Trinidad Pastelle

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Recipe Tags: Trinidad Pastelle, Trinidad Pastelle Recipe, Recipe


Serving Trinidad pastelle is a delightful experience that often involves a bit of tradition and flair. Here's how to serve Trinidad pastelle:

  1. Unwrap and Present: Carefully remove the twine or toothpick securing the banana leaf or parchment paper from the pastelle. Unwrap it, revealing the steamed delicacy inside.
  2. Garnish: Some people like to garnish their pastelle with a dollop of hot pepper sauce or chutney for an extra kick of flavor. You can also add a slice of avocado or a sprinkle of fresh herbs like cilantro or parsley for a refreshing touch.
  3. Accompaniments: Trinidad pastelle is often served with a side of traditional Trini condiments such as a tamarind sauce or a refreshing cucumber chow. These condiments complement the flavors of the pastelle and provide a burst of contrasting tastes.
  4. Enjoy the Experience: Trinidad pastelle is more than just a meal; it's an experience. It's often shared with family and friends during the holiday season, so savor each bite, appreciate the blend of flavors, and enjoy the company.
  5. Beverage: To complement the pastelle, consider serving it with a cool and refreshing drink like sorrel (a traditional Trinidadian Christmas drink) or a tropical fruit punch.
  6. Festive Presentation: For a festive touch, serve pastelles on a platter with colorful napkins and perhaps some Christmas decorations. The vibrant colors and flavors will set the mood for a special occasion.

Note: The way you serve Trinidad pastelle can be a personal choice, and there's no one "right" way to do it. The key is to appreciate the cultural significance of the dish, enjoy the flavors, and share it with loved ones, especially during the holiday season when it's a cherished tradition in Trinidad and Tobago.


  1. Prepare Ingredients in Advance: Before you start assembling pastelles, make sure all your ingredients are chopped, minced, and prepared. This will streamline the cooking process and make it more efficient.
  2. Get the Right Cornmeal Consistency: Achieving the right cornmeal dough consistency is crucial. It should be pliable and hold together without being too sticky. Add water or cornmeal as needed to get it just right.
  3. Banana Leaves: If you're using banana leaves, soften them slightly by passing them over an open flame for a few seconds. This makes them more pliable for wrapping.
  4. Evenly Spread Dough: When spreading the cornmeal dough on the banana leaf or parchment paper, try to make it as even as possible. This ensures that the pastelle cooks uniformly.
  5. Don't Overfill: While it's tempting to pack in a lot of filling, avoid overfilling the pastelles, as it can make them difficult to wrap and may lead to breakage during cooking. A moderate amount of filling works best.
  6. Secure Wrappings Well: Make sure to secure the wrapped pastelles with twine or toothpicks tightly. This prevents them from opening during steaming.
  7. Steam Carefully: When steaming, arrange the pastelles in the steamer without overcrowding them. Allow some space between each to ensure even cooking.
  8. Check for Doneness: To check if the pastelles are done, you can gently touch the dough. It should be firm to the touch and not mushy. Overcooking can make them dry, so be mindful of the steaming time.
  9. Experiment with Fillings: While the traditional filling is a favorite, don't hesitate to get creative with fillings. You can try variations with seafood, vegetarian options, or even experiment with different seasonings for a unique twist.
  10. Practice Makes Perfect: If it's your first time making pastelles, don't worry if the first few don't look perfect. Like any skill, making pastelles takes practice. You'll get better with each batch.

Ingredient Substitutes

Also, per adventure you may need to substitute ingredients in your Trinidad pastelle recipe due to dietary restrictions or ingredient availability, here are some common substitutions you can consider:

  1. Meat Substitute: If you want a vegetarian or vegan option, you can replace the meat with tofu, tempeh, or textured vegetable protein (TVP). Season and cook the substitute as you would the meat.
  2. Cornmeal Substitute: If you don't have cornmeal, you can use masa harina, which is a finely ground corn flour used for making tamales. However, the texture and flavor may be slightly different.
  3. Banana Leaf Substitute: If banana leaves are hard to find, parchment paper or corn husks (commonly used in Mexican tamales) can be used as a substitute for wrapping the pastelles.
  4. Bell Pepper Substitute: If you don't have bell peppers, you can use other sweet peppers or even grated carrots for a similar color and mild sweetness.
  5. Capers and Olives: If you're not a fan of capers or olives, you can omit them or replace them with ingredients like chopped pickles or preserved vegetables for a tangy, briny flavor.
  6. Raisins Substitute: To replace raisins, you can use currants, chopped dried apricots, or cranberries for a sweet and tart element.
  7. Spice Level: Adjust the amount of cayenne pepper to control the spice level. You can make it milder or spicier to suit your taste.
  8. Allergies: If you or your guests have allergies, be sure to choose ingredients that are safe. For example, use gluten-free cornmeal for those with gluten allergies.
  9. Herb Variations: Feel free to experiment with herbs and seasonings. Instead of pimento peppers, you can use jalapeños or other chili peppers for a different level of heat.


As you savor the delectable flavors of Trinidad pastelle, may it also bring you closer to the heartwarming traditions and culture of this vibrant island. Share the joy and taste the love in every bite. Cheers to a culinary journey that transcends borders and connects us through the love of food. 🌴🍽️

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