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Jamaican Chicken Curry

2010 March 22

Before I walk out the door of the apartment because it’s a nice day and my camera is feeling neglected, I would like to tell you about a great Martha Stewart recipe (yep, another one) that made Greg and I relax and just breathe in the magnificence of this meal: Jamaican chicken curry.

All I can say is wow, I’d place it in my top 5 dinners and I didn’t make nearly enough. Do yourself a favor and double this, hoard some for your lunch, telling any family member that it’s all gone, knowing you will get to savor the last portion. You deserve it, you know that.

Do you want to hear the sad part? The recipe called for Jamaican curry but I couldn’t find it anywhere so I mixed regular curry with Jamaican jerk seasoning. I’ll tell you what the difference is, Jamaican curry usually consists of turmeric, fenugreek, coriander, cumin, anise, pepper, garlic and allspice and Jamaican jerk contains chile pepper, allspice, thyme, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt and a few other ingredients. I don’t think it’s a long shot to say that either way would produce a tasty, tasty dish but it’s obvious that there was a spice difference.

What really makes this dish is the coconut milk. Greg isn’t one to appreciate coconut milk. He has explained why but all I hear is crazy speak.

In Cahuita between their National Forest and coral reef in the Atlantic/Carribean Sea.

I think about our time in Costa Rica along the east coast and the famed cook (I can’t recall her name) in a town called Manzanillo. (My favorite town was Cahuita, but both were beside the ocean so equally beautiful.) She made me a peanut/coconut milk rice and bean dish that makes my mouth water still today (that was about 5 years ago) and I also had a coconut-based sauce on my fresh snapper in Cahuita…don’t get me started on the breakfast with the gallo pinto (Salsa Lizano) and fresh, tropical fruit…this is driving me crazy, it was sooooo good. I can hear the Bob Marley music now. I am going back, despite the National Forest (that I did walk in for a few hours) and its many inhabitants that could kill by poisoning or steal your bag with the nearest hospital hours away.

Greg and some friends roaming Cahuita. That bar was particularly fun when the band came out.

Cahuita is such a beautiful place and not yet damaged by tourists. Manzanillo is definitely more of a tourist location and not the friendliest area but the food and scenery is worth the snideness. Further inland, there are much nicer people, very kind people indeed. Pura vida!

Jamaican Chicken Curry

Jamaican Chicken Curry
Serves 4

Ingredients:
2 tbsp vegetable oil
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (10 to 12 ounces each), rinse and pat dry, cut into bite-size pieces
salt and ground pepper
1 medium onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tsp ground cumin
3 tbsp curry powder (preferably Jamaican or use 2 tbsp curry and 1 tbsp of Jamaican jerk seasoning)
1/2 tsp dried thyme
4 carrots, thinly sliced
13.5 oz coconut milk
10 oz frozen peas, thawed
cooked white rice, for serving (about 2 to 3 cups)

In a large pot, heat oil over medium. Season chicken with salt and pepper. Work in two batches browning chicken, 5 to 7 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate and set aside.

Reduce the heat to low/medium. Add the onion, garlic, cumin, curry (mixed with jerk seasoning), thyme, and 1/2 cup water and season with salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until onion has softened, 4 to 5 minutes.

Add the carrots, coconut milk, ¼ to 1/2 cup water and chicken with any accumulated juices. Bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer, cover and cook until chicken is cooked through and carrots are tender, about 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in peas. Serve over rice.

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