[:en]I have a confession. About dombrèy, our Haitian version of Caribbean dumplings, known in the French Caribbean as dombré.
For years, I belonged to the small group of Haitians who don’t have a particular attachment to these. I simply never understood dombrèy or bòy or however your family affectionately calls those Caribbean dumplings. At least, until now.
And if I do understand our Caribbean dumplings better today, it’s because I went on a totally different route with mine.
In Haiti, we add these dense sticks of flour, water and salt to our regular bouyon, our bouyon tèt kabrit, sòs pwa, tchaka and other soups and stews. Though most Haitians venerate them, I simply don’t get their role in those Haitian dishes. Growing up, I mostly ate my bòy to fill my stomach, especially since I am not fond of the traditional bouyon. In my eyes, donbrey’s only served one purpose: keep me from dying of starvation after picking out most of the ingredients in my bouyon.
Yet, like most Haitians, my dad always insisted on having them in his bouyon. To this day, he still does. He will throw a fit and dismiss a bouyon served without bòy. To him, without dombrèy, that dish is a disgrace.
It took my reading about dombré in the French Caribbean cuisine for me to start making sense of this local staple.
Whereas in Haiti, they complement our soups and stews, in the Antilles, dombré actually make up a main dish. Curious about that way of eating Caribbean dumplings, one Saturday, a few weeks ago, I set out to prepare a dombrèy dish, the very same one I serve you today.
I infused my bòy with okra, djondjon and sirik. The reason? Our calalou djondjon stew ranks high on my go-to comfort foods for its well blended flavors. So I assumed they would infuse my dombrèy with their strong and bold flavors in the same fashion. Rightfully so.
My dombrèy kalalou djondon made my palate sing. That day, I finally understood this Haitian food.
Infused with the right flavors, dombrèy can make sense. And even more so when it becomes a main dish component. I now finally get it. Enough to require it be added to my bouyon or sòs pwa? Not so sure. Will I make it the main component of a dish as with this kalalou djondjon? I just might.
That’s a start. Right?
Dombrèy calalou djondjon, Haitian Caribbean dumplings revisited
For the broth
- 6 cups of water
- 1 piment bouc
- 1 tsp whole peppercorn
- 3 whole garlic cloves
- 1 bunch of thyme
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 cup djondjon
For the dombrèy, Caribbean dumplings
- 4 cups of flour
- ½ cup of prepared broth
- ½ cup of water
- 1 tsp salt
For the stew
- 1 tbsp oil
- ½ onion chopped
- 5 garlic cloves chopped
- 1 medium sized bell pepper chopped
- 1 can of stewed tomatoes
- 5 medium sized blue crabs cleaned
- 4 cups calalou stems cut off
- 2 cups prepared djondjon broth
For the broth
- Combine all ingredients in a pot and bring to a boil Reduce the heat and let simmer for about 45 minutes
- Remove from heat and let cool completely
- Strain the liquid and measure two (2) cups for the stew
For the dombrèy
- In a bowl, mix the flour and salt
- Make a well in the center
- Slowly whisk in the broth and water until you get a soft dough
- Knead until the dough no longer sticks to your fingers
- Roll into small balls
For the stew
- In a thick bottom pan, heat the oil
- Add the onion, garlic, bell pepper and cook until translucent
- Incorporate the stewed tomatoes with their juice and the okra
- Cook mixing constantly until the vegetables lose their vibrancy and start releasing their juice, about 15-20 minutes
- Ladle the strained broth
- Add the dombrèy (Caribbean dumplings)
- Taste and adjust the seasoning as needed
- Add the blue crabs to the pot and let simmer on low for about 45 minutes
- Once the mixture thickens turn off the heat and allow to cool
- Serve as a main dish