Most of you are well aware of my voracious appetite for variety and new cuisines. I am constantly honing my cooking skills by exploring new cuisines to add to my repertoire. This time #Spicychat is headed to the Caribbean bringing a taste of the islands with Jamaican and Guyanese dishes. A bite of Bake and Saltfish left me wanting. It was slim pickings, but after researching the web, I managed to pin few recipes as guidelines; called in the artillery, the tasters (my trusted family and friends), and whipped up few of the most popular dishes: Grilled Jerk Chicken, Sweet & Spicy Oxtail Stew, Curried Chicken, Whole Fish Stew, Bake, Dhal, and Coconut Rice.
Thanks to my dear friend and fellow foodie blogger Traveler Foodie for giving me the inside scoop about Guyanese and Trinidad Cuisine. Yes,the dishes are humble and easy to make, yet have an addictive hold on me. There is something soul-full and comforting about these dishes.
Grilled Jerk Chicken
Jerk chicken is the most well-known Jamaican dish to have been exported from the island. Moist yet crispy chicken soaked in a simple but complex tasting marinade that gives the ‘sweet and spicy‘ flavor we most relate to in Jerk Chicken. I think Jerk Chicken is that quintessential Jamaican dish with unlimited variety of marinade recipes since each family adds its own secret touch.
My tried and tested Indian method of marinating meat for at least 24 hours or more is used here, allowing the meat to soak up all the flavors. And this long marination and slow cooking renders the meat juicy and tender. Now I won’t call my recipe traditional but it certainly is addictive. It’s smoky, moist, sweet, spicy, and savory. Did I mention it’s Hot? It’s the kind that fires your mouth but you can’t stop until you have devoured it to the bone. To achieve the smokiness, I add some liquid smoke to the marinade.
Feel free to cut down the peppers if you can’t handle too much heat. It’s still has a ton of flavor imbedded in the meat.
- 12 chicken drumsticks
- 1 big bunch spring onions , roughly chopped
- 6 leaves chadon beni (optional)
- 3″ piece ginger , roughly chopped
- 3 garlic cloves
- 1 small onion
- 3 scotch bonnet chillies or 4 Habanero and 4 pimento peppers
- 1 tbsp fresh thyme leaves
- 1 tsp liquid smoke
- juice of 2 limes
- 3 tbsp soy sauce
- 3 tbsp vegetable oil
- 4 tbsp brown sugar
- 1 tbsp ground allspice
- 1 tsp green cardamom powder
- 1 tsp star anise powder
- salt to taste
- To make the jerk marinade, combine all the ingredients except chicken in a food processor and blend until you achieve a thick paste.
- Make a few slashes in the chicken thighs and pour the marinade over the meat, rubbing it into all the crevices. Cover and leave to marinate for 24 hrs in the fridge.
- Heat the grill, sear the chicken on high and then cook your chicken over slow heat for 30 minutes or until tender and cooked through.
- Serve hot.
In contrast to Indian cooking where I would slave hours for one meat dish, this chicken dish is so simple to make with only a few choice ingredients. It’s distinct flavor perhaps is a combination of chadon beni leaves, curry powder, and toasted spices that also render the dish it’s sublime flavors. Typically made with goat, to save some time since I was cooking quite a few dishes, I chose to make this recipe with chicken.
I served it with coconut rice and may I add what a fantastic combination it is. This chicken dish isn’t too spicy yet the richness of the rice cut’s the spiciness of the meat, leaving a wonderfully silky flavor. I used store-bought curry powder but I made my own amchar masala.
- 2 1/2 lbs cornish hens
- 1 small onion, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, chopped
- 1 pimento pepper
- 7 leaves chadon beni, chopped
- 1 bunch spring/green onions
- 2 sprigs fresh thyme, chopped
- 1 lime, juiced
- 1 tbs hot curry powder
- 2 tsp amchar masala
- 1 tsp turmeric powder
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp red chili powder (Indian or Cayenne)
- 2 tsp amchar masala
- 2 tbsp hot curry powder
- 3 garlic chopped
- 4 green cardamom pods or 2 star anise pods
- 1 tbs amchur powder (dry mango powder)
- 2 tbsp coconut powder
- salt and pepper to taste
- Process all the ingredients for the marinade in a food processor to thick paste. Rub the paste over the chopped pieces of chicken and let marinate in the fridge for at least 4 hours if not overnight.
- To make the curry, heat oil in a heavy-set pan, sauté the garlic till light brown. Add all the spices including the pods with 1/2 cup water and cook for a few minutes. Add the marinated chicken with all it’s juices, bring to boil and sauté for a few minutes until chicken has a reddish-brown tint and the water has absorbed. Add 1/2 cup water, bring to boil, cover and simmer for 20 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through. If the curry is too watery, boil on high till the gravy clings to the meat.
- Serve hot with coconut rice.
Amchar Masala: Roast 4 tbs whole coriander seeds, 1 tbs cumin, 2 tsps whole peppercorns, 1 tsp fennel seeds, 1 tsp brown mustard seeds, and 1 tsp fenugreek seeds until the spices turn a shade darker and release aromas. Grind into a fine powder in a clean spice grinder.
Recipes adapted from BBC food and Simply Trini Cooking.
Have you tasted Caribbean cuisine? What are some of your favorite dishes? I would love to hear from you…shoot me an email or comment below.