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Caribbean Black Bean Dip Recipe [BVI Food Recipe]

There are few empty bedrooms or berths in the BVI at this time of the year, as people flee cold climates and seek refuge with friends and family in the Islands’ predictably sunny and balmy weather.

After spending the day exploring the BVI on land and by water, my visitors are always hungry when happy hour rolls around. Since happy hour is rarely limited to an hour in the BVI, serve some tasty snacks to satisfy everyone’s hunger prior to dinner. Consider making appetizers in advance to minimize time spent in the kitchen and maximize time spent relaxing with friends and family. For a truly hassle-free evening, serve a variety of substantial appetizers (made in advance) in lieu of a more formal dinner, letting everyone graze all evening.

While beans may not come to mind as an appetizer, two of my standby appetizers involve beans, a staple of Caribbean cooking. Black bean dip is easy and healthy, and my recipe can be doubled or tripled with little additional effort. Simply combine all the ingredients and blend in a few batches in a food processor. As an added bonus, this dip is even better the second day.

One of my favourite Caribbean snacks is crunchy spiced chickpeas. This Trinidadian bar snack—called channa, the East Indian word for the beans, due to the Indian influence on the food of Trinidad—is ideal paired with a cool cocktail. I first sampled this snack in Grenada and promptly stocked my boat’s galley with the little packets found in Grenadian supermarkets. As I sailed north, I couldn’t find the snack. My stash of channa was growing low, but I wasn’t sure how to make it. When I finally asked a Trinidadian friend for the recipe, she said: “Easy. Rehydrate, fry, and season the channa.” I was supposed to FRY beans? Never had I heard of this. Of course, I should have known. Caribbean cooks are masters at frying anything–even dough, as evidenced by the popularity of delicious johnnycakes—and everything seems to taste better when fried. I’ve tried to achieve comparable results by baking the channa but have found there’s no substitute for the crunch provided by frying.

A bowl of spicy channa is like a bowl of cashews or candy… so irresistible that they seem to evaporate and suddenly you realize you’ve eaten the entire bowl! Be sure to make a huge batch of channa so you have plenty to share with visiting friends and family.

Black Bean Dip

Serve with a big bowl of tortilla chips.

2 15 oz cans black beans

1/3 C light sour cream


3 Tbl cilantro leaves

1 jalapeno, seeded and chopped finely OR hot sauce to taste

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 tsp ground cumin

Salt and pepper

Drain and rinse beans, reserving some of the liquid from the can. Combine all ingredients in a food processor and process until smooth. Add reserved liquid from the beans, as needed, to attain the desired consistency. Makes about three cups.

Spiced Channa Snack

Vary the spices depending on preference. Cumin is a good addition.

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