Colombo Stew

Colombo Stew (Cooking with Épices de Cru, Pt. 1)

Colombo Stew

Now that it’s colder, it’s time I start using my Épices de Cru spice blends. The first dish I made is a stew that comes right from their website, with lamb and a few root vegetables.

Back in the summer, I bought a few kits from Épices de Cru, made up mostly of whole spice curry blends. I quickly realized that I wouldn’t be making much use of them in the heat of the summer, and promised to explore them when the weather turned cold. Isn’t it odd that so many of the best curries and stews come from warm climates, yet some of us opt to not eat that kind of food until the fall and winter months?

This dish is Colombo stew, from Martinique. The spice blend is mostly made up of black mustard, turmeric, coriander and black pepper, with some allspice and other good stuff. It has some of the elements of a curry, but isn’t really considered one.

Caris et Masalas des Iles
Caris et Masalas des Iles - the empty one is the Colombo blend, heh

This recipe made quite a lot of food, so we had some leftovers for a while! I didn’t think about what to eat it with initially – had I done some reading in advance, I would have found that people often eat this with a nice rustic bread. I didn’t have one available, so I chose to eat it with couscous.

I’m sure this isn’t the most authentic way to serve Colombo, but who says you always have to stick to the original plan!? It was really tasty over couscous, as I’m sure it would be with crusty bread, rice or quinoa. It would also be possible to make this vegetarian, by removing the meat and substituting portabello mushrooms to get a nice dark sauce. You may add tofu or a legume for some protein.

If you can’t get your hands on the Épices de Cru Colombo blend, you could substitute 2 teaspoons black mustard seed, 2 teaspoons turmeric, 2 teaspoons coriander, 2 teaspoons black pepper and 1 teaspoon allspice. That won’t give you exactly the same blend, but will put you in the right direction. Or, you could just Google “Colombo Powder” for some alternatives.

The Verdict


About this series…

Cooking with Épices de Cru is a series of posts dedicated to trying all of the spice blends I bought from the amazing Épices de Cru. Whenever possible, I will base my post around a recipe from their website (with a twist, of course). One day, I hope that their products will be available here in Toronto, where I will spend entire paycheques on their delicious bounty.

Colombo Stew

based on the recipe from Épices de Cru.

10 – 12 servings


  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 onions, coarsely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 pounds protein of your choice (goat, pork, lamb, chicken, tofu), cubed
  • 3 tablespoons colombo spice blend, ground
  • 3 tablespoons tamarind pulp (seeds removed) or 2 tablespoons tamarind concentrate
  • salt, to taste
  • Habanero pepper to taste (I used jalapeno)
  • 2 or 3 cups cubed vegetables of your choice (potato, taro, malanga, plantain, green mango, eggplant, vegetable pears, carrot).
  • 1 green bell pepper, chopped


  1. In a large heavy pot or pan, melt the butter and oil together.
  2. Sauté the onions until softened, then add the garlic and cook for a minute or two more, or until the onions have turned golden.
  3. Add protein and brown on all sides. Add the eggplant, if using.
  4. Add ground Colombo spice blend to the pan, and stir to coat evenly. Continue to cook, stirring, for a few more minutes.
  5. Stir in tamarind, salt, and hot pepper. Add just enough boiling water to cover.
  6. Add the remaining vegetables (except for the green bell pepper, if using), stir and cover.
  7. Simmer for 1 hour or more, stirring every once in a while. After 30 minutes, add in the green pepper.
  8. Serve with bread, or over rice or couscous if you prefer. I served it over couscous. It may not be traditional, but it was delicious!