Alyssa Sooklal, Water Resources Designer II, Baltimore, MD
Alyssa's parents have always taught her about their culture, history, ancestry, and traditions, and she values their knowledge and dedication in keeping their culture present in their daily lives. This Tomato Choka recipe, and many other traditional Indo-Trinidadian recipes, are important to Alyssa because they are a part of who she is and represent her background symbolically.
"My ancestry and ethnicity is Indian, but my heritage is Indo-Trinidadian," Alyssa says. "The Indo-Trinidadian recipes, traditions, and culture that I grew up with are a blend of Indian and Trinidadian/Caribbean culture – which is exactly who I am. I’m an American, I’m Indian, and I’m a Trini girl, and many facets of my life such as my cuisine are representative of who I am."
Tomato Choka is a popular Indo-Trinidadian dish, most commonly served with Sada Roti.
It looks like salsa; however, it is served hot and can be enjoyed at any meal. Originating from the Indian states of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, this dish has maintained its Indian authenticity for nearly 200 years in the republic of Trinidad and Tobago, a former British colony to where thousands of Indian indentured laborers were brought from India in the 1800s.
“My mom taught me how to make Tomato Choka (and Sada Roti). She’s an amazing Trini cook, and I learned from the best. I have so many great memories of cooking and baking with her. We eat Tomato Choka with Sada Roti several times a month! Both are incredibly easy to make and so delicious. This recipe is the perfect blend of Indian cuisine and islander spice.”