Caraili, called kerala in India, is a type of bitter melon, a standard vegetable in the Trinidadian diet. It is light green and resembles a knobby-skinned cucumber. If you like radicchio, broccoli rabe or other bitter vegetables, you'll find caraili appealing as well. It is readily available in Asian and Middle Eastern markets. If your caraili are on the large side, cut them in half lengthwise and discard the seeds. Salted codfish is a common ingredient in the Caribbean—brought to the islands as part of the Atlantic trade. It introduces enough salt to the dish, so no extra is called for. For a vegetarian version, omit the salted cod and add a pinch of salt.

EatingWell Magazine, March 2022


Credit: Penny De Los Santos

Recipe Summary

45 mins
2 hrs 15 mins


Ingredient Checklist


Instructions Checklist
  • Place cod in a large bowl and cover with 2 cups boiling water. Let soak for 30 minutes. Drain and rinse with cold water. Return the cod to the bowl and add enough cold water to cover it; let stand for 1 hour. Drain, then shred the cod with a fork, picking out any small bones.

  • Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add half the caraili slices and cook, flipping once, until golden brown, about 2 minutes per side. Transfer to a paper-towel-lined plate. Repeat with another 1 tablespoon oil and the remaining caraili.

  • Add the remaining 1 tablespoon oil to the pan and heat over medium heat. Add onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until translucent, about 3 minutes. Add garlic and cook, stirring, until golden brown, about 30 seconds. Add nigella seeds and cook, stirring, until they begin to pop, about 15 seconds. Add tomato and chile and cook, stirring occasionally, for 2 minutes. Stir in the cod and cook, stirring occasionally, for 3 minutes. Return the caraili to the pan along with water and pepper. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover and cook until the caraili is soft, about 15 minutes.


Known for their onion-like flavor, nigella seeds spruce up roasted veggies, a salad or an omelet. Find them online or at a specialty spice store.

Scotch bonnet chiles are a common ingredient in Trinidadian cuisine. They are some of the hotter peppers on the Scoville scale. Keep white vinegar handy to wipe down surfaces that the pepper has touched—including your hands—before washing with soap and water. 

Nutrition Facts

1 cup
162 calories; protein 10g; carbohydrates 8g; dietary fiber 4g; sugars 2g; fat 11g; saturated fat 1g; cholesterol 28mg; sodium 353mg; potassium 530mg.