For the 10th alphabet J, we travel to the Caribbean nation of Jamaica. Jamaican cuisine is influenced by Spanish, British, African, Indian and Chinese cuisines. Jamaica was first a Spanish colony and later under British rule. When slave trade was banned, British brought in Indians and Chinese workers. When there are so many nationals in a country, the cuisine is invariably bound to be influenced by the cuisines of all nationals living in the nation.
Most popular spice from this island nation is jerk spice. Jerk is a style of cooking where the marinade or spice rub is rubbed into the meat and then cooked. Traditionally pork and chicken are used but nowadays this spice is used for seafood, tofu and lamb. The two key ingredients in this spice mix are allspice and scotch bonnet peppers. Jerk chicken was my first choice for this country but husband wasn’t interested in it.
Few days ago Mireille got me a goodie bag which had a pack of Jamaican curry powder, hot & spicy duck/goat curry powder, salted cod and few other ingredients. I made Bermuda breakfast with salted cod that very weekend. Breakfast had few components to it and everything was good and the cod was ok. That was the first time I tasted and cooked salted cod. I do not know how it is supposed to taste and even if I cooked it properly. Since it was the first time I cooked it, I would go with the later, might not have cooked it right. As I was not satisfied with it, I took the safe route and made Bangladeshi chicken for letter B.
Coming to ‘J’, I was debating between Japanese and Jamaican cuisine. I wanted to cook something for this marathon with the ingredients Mir gave me. Since I had the Jamaican curry powder on hand, thanks to Mir, I decided to go with Jamaican chicken curry. The key ingredients in this curry are the Jamaican curry powder and scotch bonnet or habanero peppers. Difference between Jamaican curry powder and Indian curry powder, specially the South Indian curry powder is that Jamaican curry powder does not have any lentils in it. Jamaican powder is a blend of coriander, turmeric, cumin, fenugreek, salt, fennel & chilies. There are many versions of Jamaican curry on the web. Some had very few ingredients; curry powder, scotch bonnet peppers, salt & pepper, onion and chicken while some had additional ingredients such as bell peppers, ketchup and a whole bunch of other spices. Some recipes also used coconut milk for the gravy. I did not want to add too many spices and went with the simpler version of the recipe that used only curry powder, scotch bonnet peppers and onions. Since we like more gravy in our curry, I added couple of tablespoons of pomi strained tomatoes and some ginger garlic paste. Curry had a strong curry powder flavor and scotch bonnet peppers gave it spicy flavor. The curry was good but we missed the kick of garam masala in it. I never tasted Jamaican curry before and I think curry turned out good as it had that Jamaican flavor and taste. Again, the curry is usually a little thick based on the photos I have seen online and I made it a little thin as my husband is sucker for lighter gravies.
Adapted from: various sources
Total Time: 30 – 40 minutes
Preparation: 10 minutes
Cooking Time: 20 – 30 minutes
- 1 lb. skinned and cut Chicken (I used ½ whole chicken cut into serving size pieces)
- 2 tbsp. Jamaican Curry Powder (must for this curry and I used Chief brand)
- ¼ tsp. Black Pepper Powder (adjust to taste)
- 1 ¼ – 1 ½ Salt (adjust to taste)
- 2 tbsp. Oil
- 1 medium sized Onion chopped or 1 cup chopped Onion
- 2 Scotch Bonnet Pepper / Habanero Peppers chopped (adjust to taste and these peppers are spicy)
- 2 tsp. mince Garlic
- 1 tsp. Ginger Garlic paste
- 2 tbsp. Tomato Puree (I used Pomi strained tomatoes)
- Pinch of Turmeric
- 1 medium sized Potato peeled and cut into cubes
- 1 – 1 ½ cup Water (adjust depending on required consistency)
- Cilantro or Coriander Leaves for garnish (opt.)
- Remove the skin from the chicken, cut it into 1 ½” – 2” pieces, wash and place it in a bowl.
- Marinate the chicken with curry powder, salt and black pepper. Marinating the chicken is optional. If possible marinate it overnight or for 2-4 hours in the refrigerator.
- Heat oil in a saucepan and sauté onions until translucent.
- Add scotch bonnet or habanero peppers and sauté until peppers become soft.
- Add ginger garlic paste, garlic and sauté until ginger is lightly roasted.
- Add tomato, turmeric and cook for a minute or two.
- Add chicken and cook until chicken is lightly browned.
- Add potatoes and give it a good stir.
- Add water, mix, cover and cook until chicken and potatoes are cooked.
- Garnish with cilantro and serve with rice.
- Use coconut milk for rich creamy texture. Use coconut milk instead of water.
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