Christmas in Trinidad

Originally from Trinidad and Tobago, Liam and Shalimar have lived in the UK for the past 11 years, and love to bring the diversity and flavour of Trinidad and Tobago to Bristol, with their tried and true family recipes.

A Trini Christmas is all about family, music, and arguably most importantly, food!

Every step of the day is marked by sharing food and drink with loved ones, catching up, reflecting on the year, and making memories for the years to come.

A traditional Christmas breakfast is pineapple-glazed ham and a crusty yet pillowy bread roll, called hops. It’s a simple, but delicious start to the day, as the preparations kick into gear for the feasting to come.

Trinidad and Tobago is a small country (only 1.3 million people) so Christmas day practically demands that you visit with and host as many friends and family members as possible. And of course, each of those visits requires a full plate of food. This is little exaggeration, as there is usually not one big meal on the day, but a series of Christmas dinners with every visit.

The main spread hinges on the afore-mentioned pineapple-glazed ham, complemented by any number of other meat dishes, and surrounded by a spread of hearty, festive side dishes. Cheesy macaroni pie, beef pastelles, creole rice, pigeon peas, cassava pie, plantains, and much more. Christmas Day is not the healthiest on the Trinidadian calendar, but it usually is the most comforting and satisfying. And dessert is not a major feature on the day, because we’re usually so full from everything else!

As for the drinks, sorrel is the seasonal favourite, a brewed hibiscus drink, with cinnamon, cloves, and bay leaves. It is a bit like a non-alcoholic mulled wine. For later in the day, ponche-de-crème is the feature, an eggnog style drink, with rum. These flavours are synonymous with Christmas in T&T, and we rarely ever drink them at any of time of year. See receipe below.

For the past decade, Christmas in the UK has been a much different affair, and one that we love. But nothing can truly beat a Trini Christmas.

Ponche-de-Crème (8 portions)


6 eggs
1 (390g) can condensed milk
400ml evaporated milk
2 tbsp Angostura bitters
1 cup of rum
1 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1 tsp lime zest (optional)


  1. Blend the eggs with the lime zest (if using) until full mixed.
  2. Add in the condensed milk and blend until fully incorporated.
  3. Pour in the evaporated milk slowly and blend until mixed in fully.
  4. Stir in the rum and bitters and freshly grated nutmeg.
  5. Serve chilled or on ice.

It is recommended that you use pasteurised eggs, such as those bearing the British Lion stamp.

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