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Sweet Hands: Island Cooking from Trinidad and Tobago

Sweet Hands

By Ramin Ganeshram

Published 2018

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These split-pea fritters are just one of many fried snacks found in Trinidad. No one knows the origin of the name but it’s generally agreed that they were created by East Indian indentured laborers. Phoulourie has a close resemblance to the batter used for pakora—Indian battered fried vegetables. Like pakoras these fried treats are usually served with Tamarind Sauce or Shado Beni Sauce, but Mango Chutney and other fruit chutneys are popular too. (Note: This batter is also used for making Sahina.)


  • 2 cups dried yellow split peas or cups besan (chickpea flour)
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • ½ teaspoon ground turmeric
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cumin
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon coarse salt
  • ½ teaspoon chili powder
  • 2 cups canola oil for frying


  1. Place the dried split peas in a pot with 6 cups of water and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer until soft, about 45 minutes.
  2. Drain the split peas and place in a food processor. Grind into a coarse meal, resembling couscous. Add the garlic, turmeric, cumin, baking powder, flour, salt, and chili powder and grind by pulsing until well combined. (Or, if using besan, stir into a bowl with the other ingredients until well combined.)
  3. Gradually add about 1 cup of water to the split pea mixture, stirring to form a thick batter.
  4. Heat the oil in a deep frying pan. Working in batches, drop the batter into the hot oil by tablespoonful. Fry the phoulourie until golden brown, turning often. Remove from the oil with a slotted spoon and drain on a plate lined with paper towels or a wire rack set over a baking sheet.
  5. Serve with Tamarind Sauce, Shado Beni Sauce, Mango Chutney, or other fruit chutneys.