Trinidad Christmas: Making Pastelles

Pastelles are a favorite at Christmas time in Trinidad.  Here in the U.S. we can have everything most of the time.  Cosplay is not just for Halloween.  Apples are for every day.  In Trinidad, apples were few and far between.  At Christmas time we were permitted one apple.  They were scarce and cherished.

Also cherished were pastelles.  I just spent a week understanding why they are so cherished.  It’s simple.  They take an incredible amount of time to make!


I have a certain memory of a certain flavor that I wanted to reproduce.  I came up with a medley from 3 different recipe sources.  Here is my recipe for making pastelles, and I will post a video at the bottom.  Enjoy!

Trinidad Pastelles

Ingredients for Filling

I have found some links on Amazon for the ingredients that you are less likely to already have.

  •  1 lb beef
  • 1/2 c raisins
  • 1 tsp Lea and Perrins Worstershire sauce (we did a test and this was better in this recipe)
  • 2 tbsp finely chopped Spanish olives
  • 1 tsp finely chopped capers
  • 2 med or 1 lg onion
  • 2 lg or 3 med tomatoes
  • 1 bunch chives,
  • 1/4 sweet red pepper
  • oil for cooking meat
  • salt and pepper
 Ingredients for Crust

  • 2 c Finely ground corn flour (not corn meal!)
  • 2 c tepid water
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 4 tbsp oil
 Banana Leaves and string for wrapping.  Oil.

Prepare the filling

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Finely chop the Spanish olives, capers, onion, tomatoes, chives and red pepper.

Combine the beef, raisins, Worstershire sauce, and chopped ingredients.

Heat pan with oil, and brown beef.  Salt and pepper to taste.  Set aside for later.

Prepare the crust

Place corn flour into a bowl.  Add salt and oil.

Microwave 2 c of water for 1 minute until warm, but not hot.

Pour about 1 cup of water into the mix and knead with hands until mixed. Mixture should be soft but not wet. Separate into 6 balls.

Prepare the banana leaves

Pass the banana leaves over a flame until they change in color. Wipe clean with oil.

Assemble the Pastelles

Place an oiled banana leaf on the surface and place a crust ball on the leaf.  Cover with another oiled banana leaf.  Roll flat with a rolling pin.  Place a couple of tablespoons of filling onto the crust and fold edges over.  Fold in on all sides.  Wrap with leaf or leaves and tie with string.

Cook the pastelles

Steam for 20 minutes and serve with a beautiful salad!

Sources used for recipe

Naparima Cookbook

Naparami Girls Cookbook –


And a Video

Trish Tsoiasue is a Maker and, together with Morio Murase and Caprice Rothe (Hands of E.T.) started a community called Makersville, a BSA Career Exploring Club called Club Ten (Unit 1010) and a BSA Career Exploring Post called High Values (Unit 1111).  She has come to the conclusion that she makes social systems (communities) and sometimes she makes and finishes physical things.  She is the LUG Ambassador for the Long Beach LEGO User Group, a Recognized LUG.  Once she played a game called the Community Lemonade Game.  She also blogs on the Belmont Shore Patch, and she has several YouTube channels, her main channel being Squigglemom.