Caribbean Curry Chicken
St. Croix has a unique history, having been inhabited by the Spanish, Dutch, French, Danish, Knights of Malta, England and the United States. Currently, there are people from al over the Caribbean (St. Kitts, St. Lucia, Antigua, Nevis, Puerto Rico, Dominca, etc). This means that I grew up with a very wide range of food. My parents tended to keep to Italian and American food, but I was able to indulge in lots of tasty Puerto Rican and West Indian. These influences run true to everything that I cook.
The key to a good curry is the proper curry powder. I tried to make this a few years ago just using a basic curry powder found at the grocery store, but it didn’t have the proper flavoring or color (the curry I grew up with is more yellow). I was able to adjust the seasoning level and save dinner, but the first thing I did was ask my dad why he thought it didn’t turn out properly. He knew immediately that I had used inferior curry powder. He told me to hunt down a Caribbean store in DC and get some Chief’s curry powder. So I did! I go to the Caribbean Market on New Hampshire Ave in Takoma Park.
This recipe is pretty easy to significantly increase or decrease how much you are cooking. The Chief’s curry powder calls for 1 tablespoon of curry powder and 1/2 cup water per pound of meat. I usually round up to account for the vegetables that I add. For this particular recipe, I was cooking for some friends so I had close to 5 1/2 pounds of chicken breast.
5.38 pounds of boneless chicken breasts
4 medium carrots
3 medium potatoes
1 medium onion
7 tablespoons curry powder (1 per pound, plus rounding up to 7 for additional .38 and the vegetables)
3.5 cups of water
1 can garbanzo beans drained and rinsed
1/2 scotch bonnet pepper (this is discretionary. It adds flavor but can also add spice)
3-4 tablespoons rum
*sometimes I will add a chicken bullion cube to rachet up flavor. It isn’t required though.
1. Cut meant into cubes
2. Season and set aside (I use my standard seasoning of Adobo and pepper)
3. Heat olive oil in saucepan over medium high heat
4. Mix curry powder and water and pour into heated saucepan
5. Cook 2-3 minutes
6. Add onions, cook additional 2-3 minutes
7. Add chicken to pot and mix with onions and curry powder. Cook for 20 minutes
8. Add carrots and potatoes
9. Add thyme, ginger, oregano and rum
10. Cover and simmer curry for additional 25-30, stirring regularly
11. Add garbanzo beans and simmer for additional 20-25, stirring regularly
12. Taste vegetables and chicken for seasoning level and doneness
Serve over rice, or in a roti skin (an unleavened bread similiar to a tortilla used by Indian, and West Indians.)
I have had curry with lamb, shrimp, goat, conch, beef, and chicken. Some have bones, some doesn’t. Some have carrots and garbanzo beans, and some don’t. These are all a matter a preference. I make it this way because this is the way that my family enjoys it. I tend to prefer to use chicken thighs because they work better for the longer cooking time of curry, but it all depends of what you have and what’s available.