Sayroo West Indian Market and a recipe for Cassava Pone

This quaint place is in a newly built shopping plaza that is quite easy to miss; it would be best to call and ask for specific directions or punch it in your nav system.  This is a true family-owned and run grassroots business.  The bakers are an elderly Guyanese couple; their son and his wife run the business. They're always happy to see their regulars and always eager to help you find what you need.  Often, my rummaging through their baked offerings lands me a visit to the kitchen to see what is coming out of the oven.

[image-2]Perusing small aisles reveals spices, canned and dried foods that are generally found in many West Indian homes: chutneys, curry powder mixes, sauces, extracts and more.

Adjacent to this is a section with a small selection of fruits/vegetables for sale.  Wander to the back and you will find two refrigerators: one for fish, the other stocked with frozen chicken, duck and goat meat (curried goat and duck are wildly popular West Indian dishes)


The European colonial influence really stands out in Sayroo's baked goods; currant rolls, coconut drops, coconut tarts, pineapple tarts and freshly baked bread all look tempting enough to destroy any New Year`s low carb resolution.

However, of all West Indian desserts I must say that pone is the best.  And it is done well here.


Pone traces its origins to the Arawak Indians of the Pre Columbus era and it is sort of a pudding-like cake.  It is made chiefly from grated yucca mixed with coconut, milk, sugar and spices like cinnamon and nutmeg.  The yucca becomes gelatinous upon baking and is what gives pone a gooey consistency without the use of eggs as a binding agent.  When done right this is a texturally rich and spiced dessert, but not very sweet, that goes well with a hot cup of tea.  If you try anything here, it should be the pone; out of all my food adventures I have yet to try anything that is quite like this baked treasure from my homeland.

I will include a recipe for this, however if you Google it you will see many iterations of this recipe.  It is not uncommon for many recipes to vary from island to island.  Of course you could save yourself the trouble and go to Sayroo`s and buy a loaf=)


Cassava Pone

3 cups grated cassava (yucca)

1 1/2 cups grated coconut

1 1/2 cups grated pumpkin

1 1/2 cups sugar

2 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp grated nutmeg

1 tsp vanilla

1/2 tsp black pepper

3 cups of milk

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix cassava, coconut and pumpkin. Add sugar, spices and milk and mix well.

2. Bake in a shallow pan (12x8x2) for 60-75 minutes. Let cool, slice and invite friends over!

And remember if they refuse your hospitality, you are allowed to give them a little crap.


In Miami — where I recently spent the holidays consuming massive amounts of food and drink — West Indian shops and markets abound to support the needs of large ex-pat social groups eager to preserve their way of life. However, Tampa also has a significant West Indian population. Look hard enough and you will find their local markets. I have been searching for quite a while for a place to feed my occasional need for Caribbean pastries and baked goods, and the modest Sayroo's bakery (2028 s. 50th St., Tampa, 813-248-6402) came up via word of mouth.

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