Trini Coleslaw


Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Serves:


Appears in

Sweet Hands: Island Cooking from Trinidad and Tobago

Sweet Hands

By Ramin Ganeshram

Published 2018

  • About

Coleslaw is known to have been prepared by the Dutch and later the English in the American colonies, so it is tempting to think those same settlers brought the dish to the Caribbean on one of the many circular trade routes between North America, Europe, Africa, and the Caribbean. Truthfully, I have not been able to find any evidence supporting this idea and I’m not really sure how coleslaw came to Trinidad. It could very well be a latter twentieth century addition to the Caribbean culinary repertoire, like hamburgers and hot dogs.

Trinidadian coleslaw doesn’t employ mayonnaise, perhaps a practical food safety measure given the country’s heat. A vinegar based dish, it is a particularly refreshing accompaniment to foods like Fried Fish and Chaguanas-Style Fried Chicken.


  • 1 small red onion, thinly sliced
  • ½ cup white vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar
  • ½ teaspoon coarse salt
  • ¼ head green cabbage, shredded
  • ¼ head red cabbage, shredded
  • 2 carrots, shredded
  • 3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh or jarred pimiento peppers
  • 5 shado beni or cilantro leaves, finely chopped


  1. Place the onion, vinegar, brown sugar, and salt in a large bowl. Whisk together to dissolve the sugar and salt.
  2. Add the cabbages, carrots, and pimiento pepper to the vinegar mixture and toss well. Cover and set aside to macerate for at least one hour and up to overnight in the refrigerator.
  3. Toss in the shado beni or cilantro leaves just before serving.