TomTom ak Kalalou (Breadfruit with Okra)

Tom tom ak Kalalou Gombo
In English : Breadruit with Okra. I used to laugh hysterically at this name “Lam veritab” . It sounded purposely senseless. “The true soul” ? That’s its literal meaning. That’s a weird name for a tree. I can’t quite find the precise words to describe how this word sounded to me.
Lam veritab = L’ arbre veritable = The real/true tree.
I tried making sense out of the origin of this name through my short time researching the history behind it.


Well here’s a short story on Wikipedia that might help understand:
“According to an etiological Hawaiian myth, the breadfruit originated from the sacrifice of the war god . After deciding to live secretly among mortals as a farmer, Kū married and had children. He and his family lived happily until a famine seized their island. When he could no longer bear to watch his children suffer, Kū told his wife that he could deliver them from starvation, but to do so he would have to leave them. Reluctantly she agreed, and at her word, Kū descended into the ground right where he had stood until only the top of his head was visible. His family waited around the spot he had last been, day and night, watering it with their tears until suddenly, a small green shoot appeared where Kū had stood. Quickly, the shoot grew into a tall and leafy tree that was laden with heavy breadfruits that Kū’s family and neighbors gratefully ate, joyfully saved from starvation.”

Here are other fun facts about the Breadfruit:
Breadfruit made its way from Tahiti to the  West Indies in the 18th century.
In Martinique it’s called : l’ arbre a pain.
In Saint Lucia it’s called : Bois pain
In Haiti it is called          : Lam Veritab
One single breadfruit  can feed a nuclear family.
The tree itself (Artocarpus altilis) produces around 200 fruits a season and grows between 85 to 90 feet tall.

Here are a few fun facts about Okra (Kalalou)- (Hibiscus esculentus)
Ethiopian heritage
In Bantu languages it is called:  Kingombo
In Ibo languages it is called : ọ́kụ̀rụ̀
In English speaking countries: lady’s fingers

Tomtom ak kalalou is never eaten alone. The traditional way to partake of this dish is to place the breadfruit mash in the middle of a table, the gumbo purée alongside it, and have the extended family take turns at digging into the breadfruit with index fingers, then into the gumbo sauce for flavoring, and then lightly into the mouth with one gulp until the next round. It takes a long time to eat, and this is a good occasion for conversation and stories.”

Dady Chery

1 breadfruit
1 tsp of salt
1/4 tsp of crushed black pepper
1 lb okra (fresh or frozen)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 tablespoon of tomato paste
Chopped onions
zest of lemon
1 tsp of powdered garlic


  1. This step is very important. Peel off the green skin from the breadfruit. Cut out the most inner spongy part of the fruit. This part is bitter! Cut the fruit into pieces. Put them in a pot and let it boil for about 15 to 20 mns. It boils really fast . Make sure your pot is well covered. Make sure you have completely removed the spongy part of the fruit. Do not leave it to boil without covering it or it might take longer to cook. You can add some salt to the boiling mixture. DSC_100756
  2. Meanwhile boil your okra for 10mns. Once cooked, drain water and cut into pieces. You can even mash them into a ” puree” . That’s actually the traditional way to do it. It needs to be a slimy sauce. But I prefer mine in pieces rather than crushed (which explains the picture below).
    Use another pot to warm your oil. Fry onions with tomato paste. Then, add your okra pieces and seasonings (garlic, salt, black pepper, lemon zest). Stir! Make sure you  created a sauce. It shouldn’t be dry because you want to have to dip your  tomtom inside of your kalalou.
    – You can easily replace the powdered garlic and tomato paste with natural ingredients. The flavor will be even more amazing and you can never go wrong with organic!
  3. Now Take the pieces of boiled breadfruit and put them in a bowl that is sturdy enough (not susceptible to break) . Then, use a pestle to smash them into a sticky puree. DSC_101511



Published by Nathalie JB

Bonjou! My name is Nathalie Jean-Baptiste. Yes! I know, my last name doesn’t get any more Haitian than that! Who am I really? I consider myself a renaissance woman. I looooooove learning new skills in any field possible: Culinary, baking, painting, crafting, designing, writing, knitting, sewing. You name it! I often joke while saying “ I’m a tout bagay”. Which literally translates to “I’m everything”. Most say I'd make a great surgeon due to the agility in my hands. Sure, I can manage any tasks requiring detail and precision. It drives my audacity to venture in the kitchen with absolutely no experience. What better motivation than to share my culinary journey with you? To help you get better at things you probably thought you couldn't do. At least, that was my drive! I guess by now, you’ve already figured out that I'm the cook and photographer behind “Pilon lakay”. This blog started 8 years ago as I realized that I knew absolutely nothing about Haitian cuisine. Back home, I was never taught how to cook nor was I ever interested in being in the kitchen unless it involved baking. Instead, I loved preparing cakes and cookies. (Shhhh! I still do). After a couple of years in the US, like most of us immigrants, I missed food from home. The good stuff, you know! So I decided to take matters into my own hands and make of this a personal exploration of Haitian food. Boy what a journey it has been! While cooking up a storm in the kitchen, I wanted to encourage others like me to actually learn and explore Haiti’s gastronomy. I made sure my instructions were personal and beginner friendly. My recipe directions contain a lot more details than any other regular recipes. With a personal touch, it's a depiction of my thought process when I do these many tasks. I'm sure you can cook anything on here! If I can do it, you can too! Come experience Haiti through your taste buds! Meet you in the kitchen! Love, N.

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