Spicy Jamaican chicken curry offers an island escape, sans flight.
Vibrant, ochre Jamaican curry differs from its Indian counterpart, thanks to a healthy dose of allspice; it's a bit soupier, too. Like South Asian takes, however, Jamaicans incorporate coconut milk, resulting in a silky, soupy and singular dish that pairs well with Jamaican beans ("peas") and rice. Season some sliced plantains with salt and pepper; place them in a pan with melted butter and a bit of brown sugar, and allow them to caramelize for another perfect companion.
If you want to kick up the heat, add another Scotch Bonnet pepper or, perhaps, a bit of cayenne.
Because results vary considerably depending on the curry mix you use, you may need to tweak the flavors slightly. Or feel free to make your own (see note below). Add a bit more vinegar and Worcestershire sauce if you find it lacking in depth.
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped (about 1 cup)
- 3 medium cloves garlic, minced (about 1 tablespoons)
- 1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger
- 1 scotch bonnet or habanero pepper, minced (see note)
- 3 1/2 tablespoons Jamaican curry powder (see note)
- 3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch cubes (about 1 1/2 pounds total)
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 8 fingerling potatoes, sliced into 1/4-inch coins
- 1 cup homemade or store-bought low sodium chicken stock
- 2 cups full-fat coconut milk
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1 1/2 teaspoons white wine vinegar
- 1 1/2 teaspoons hot sauce, such as Grace
- Cilantro for garnishing (optional)
Heat the oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat until shimmering. Add the onions, garlic, and ginger and cook, stirring, until the mixture begins to soften and the onions are almost translucent, 5 to 8 minutes. Add peppers and cook, stirring, for another 2 minutes. Add curry powder, stir, and continue to cook until curry powder turns deep gold and is fragrant, about 1 minute. Season the chicken with salt and pepper, add to pan and continue to cook for 8 to 10 minutes. Add the potatoes and cook for 3 minutes before adding the chicken broth, coconut milk, Worcestershire, vinegar and hot sauce. Reduce heat to low and simmer until chicken is cooked, potatoes are tender, and sauce is lightly reduced, about 30 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Garnish with cilantro if desired, and serve with sides such as grilled or fried plantains, beans, and rice.
Scotch bonnet and habanero chilies are extremely hot. Wear plastic gloves and carefully clean knife and all surfaces after cutting. Do not touch your face or eyes while working with the peppers.
If you want to make your curry spice mix from scratch, do so by combining 2 tablespoons each of cumin seeds, whole mustard seeds, and anise, along with 3 tablespoons of coriander seeds and 1 tablespoon each of whole allspice and fenugreek. Toast the mixture in a dry pan over medium heat until fragrant, and add 5 tablespoons of turmeric. Grind in a spice grinder, transfer to a tightly sealed container, and store in a cool, dark place until you're ready to use it.