Category Archives: Jamaican

Pipin’ Coconut-n-Root Vegetable Curry Recipe


Baby, it’s cold out there! The Alaskan storm hiccup has just reached Eastern Canada with the brrr temperatures, even the first snow. Under these circumstances I’m sure I’m not the only one to resort to comfort eating. This recipe has been on my bucket list for a while and I wanted to share it eventually for all the right reasons. It’s vegetarian, comparatively light, highly dietetic and comforting, and can be easily complemented with multiple omnivore, vegan or pescatarian choices. I opted for the haddock fish to go with it, but you can choose tofu, chicken or any fondue-sliced meat, all of which can be sautéed in a few minutes with the spices of your choice.

A trip to the local farmers’ market…

A bunch of the root veggies and other bounty brought home…
A quick mental scan of what to do with them on a day like today…
IT’S GOTTA BE CURRY! From my personal experience, nothing can pick you up better than a savory-spicy curry during times of chilling humidity and/or a flu season. Just few spoons of it and you’re back to keep calm and carry on…
The versatility of this dish is incredible. Depending on the curry spices you use, it can take an Asian, Indian or Caribbean direction. I used Jamaican curry spice mix for this post, along with a dash of Scotch Bonnet pepper sauce to give it an obviously Jamaican flair . 
You can also easily incorporate any other fall veggies into it: from pumpkin to squash, broccoli, cauliflower or collard greens. Finally, you can swap canned chick peas with canned lentils, or beans if wish be.
Have any leftovers of this curry from Friday supper? Turn them into a fast and delicious take on a British Kedgeree for your week-end brunch by adding some cooked rice, boiled eggs and chopped greens. If you happen to have some smoked haddock in your fridge, team it up: it will make the dish outstanding (otherwise, canned tuna or salmon would be OK).
We all (me in particular – duh) need some kind of an immune booster at this time of the year. The combination of this curry’s ingredients provides it in abundance: from a support to digestion, to anti-inflammatory help, to giving more energy to the brain, to improving cholesterol ratios, to metabolic push and so on. And the coconut milk in this recipe is not just a healthy alternative to milk. It does magic marrying the spices and ingredients, softening the heat of the curry and adding delicate sweetness along with carrots and sweet potatoes.  
Serve the curry piping hot with or without the meat protein addition, garnished with fresh cilantro or parsley and lime wedges on a side. Enjoy!
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COCONUT & ROOT VEGETABLE CURRY
Yields: 4 portions
Ingredients:
For Curry:
1 big sweet potato, cut in small cubes
1 big potato, cut in small cubes
1 big carrot, cut in small cubes
4 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp crushed chili flakes
1 onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 tbsp grated ginger
2 tbsp curry powder
1 red bell pepper, seeded and diced
1 can 19 oz chickpeas, drained
1 can 14 oz coconut milk
1 jalapeno pepper seeded and minced (or 1 tbsp Scotch Bonnet pepper sauce)
1 tsp fresh or dried thyme
Salt and pepper to taste
1 small bunch of cilantro for garnish
2-3 scallions for garnish
1-2 limes, cut in wedges
Additions:
4 fillet of white, not oily fish (haddock, cod, tilapia, etc.), sautéed in 1 tsp oil and seasoned
OR
4 chicken breasts escalopes, sautéed in 1 tsp oil and seasoned
Instructions:
Cover the potatoes and carrots with water in a small saucepan. Bring to boil and simmer for 3 minutes.  Drain and set aside.
In the meantime, add three tablespoons of oil to the Dutch oven or a big saucepan and bring to medium high.  Add chili flakes, onion, garlic and ginger and cook for 1 minute. Add the curry powder.  Add the red pepper and mix.
Add potatoes and carrots and mix. Add chickpeas and mix. Add coconut milk and bring to boil. Add jalapeno and thyme. Bring to boil and simmer for about 10 minutes.  Season with salt and pepper.

Garnish with cilantro and minced scallions. Serve hot in bowls with lime wedges on a side, topped with fish or chicken additions.

For Kedgeree:
Ingredients:
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp butter
2 cups coconut and vegetable curry leftovers
1/3 cup of water
1 tbsp fish sauce
2 cups cooked rice of your choice, cold
1 cup smoked haddock (or canned tuna, or salmon), minced
2 boiled eggs, chopped
1 tsp cumin, ground
1 tsp coriander, ground
Salt and pepper to taste
1 lime, zested and juiced
2 tsp fresh cilantro or parsley, minced
Instructions:
Heat the big skillet or wok to medium-high and add olive oil and butter. Add coconut vegetable curry and mix. Add water and fish sauce. Bring the heat to high, add rice and keep mixing vigorously for 1 minute. Add fish, eggs, cilantro and spices. Keep mixing for one minute. Add lime zest, drizzle with lime juice and mix. Remove for the heat and serve hot garnished with cilantro or parsley. Serve hot.

No Problem Jamaican Jerk from Sunny Negril

Last weekend was blessed with sunshine, we needed so badly to catch up with endless home and garden chores and have the final year’s swim. We also made some excellent grill dedicated to Jamaican Jerk. Traditionally slow-cooked and smoked to delicious perfection, Jerk is a passport to Jamaican street food. This recipe was brought from sunny Negril. If you are anything like me, once you tried a real thing you would always want to make it at home. We make it in every season, even in winter, yes, that’s how much we like it. There is something magical about the jerk, something very West Indies about, embracing all traditional spices, condiments and the taste of Caribbean in general. And it’s super-hot! Nice green salad and beer are the must companions for the Jerk.
Away from wind, rain and cold and back to the happiest memories of so many wonderful vacations with friends and family… We are going to one of my favorite Caribbean food destinations, the reggae homeland, Jamaica. Mon, I love this country. It has everything the perfect vacation is about: clear waters, pristine beaches, lush islands, emerald rivers, fascinating falls, world’s best Blue Mountain coffee, reggae music, fun people and, of course, all kinds of JERK!
There is even a Jerk Trail guide mapwith few dozen of jerk eateries around the island featuring the best jerk dishes, which are not only limited to chicken, but also include pork, shrimp, sausage, even conch specialties. Particularly in Negril, I would currently also add my favorite 3 Dives and De Bar spots to the list of the most authentic Jamaican jerk experiences.
Something tells me a day on the beautiful beach followed by great local specialty sunset dinner to live reggae music for a pocket change is not only my idea of perfect. Speaking of the beach, the Seven Mile Beach in Negril is of course one of the best beaches in Jamaica (which is, reportedly and sadly, now slowly vanishing). Our favorite part of the beach stretch though is along the shore of the Bloody Bay lined in the forest of towering palms at the level of Breezes and Couples Negril hotels (the letter is hard to beat with their level of services and never disappoints).
No need to dress up, a nice barefoot walk in white powdery sand, with clear turquoise water lapping at your toes is all you need to discover the mini-Jamaica from day one: fresh breeze, smell of the pit-fire pimento leaves smoked Jerk, vendors and musicians in those quirky Jamaican hats, little food shacks made of the drift wood…

I’m still keeping one of the little bracelets the funky guy in marijuana glasses (he was smoking pot at the same time) was making for everyone passing by and just giving them away. For those interested, he was also giving a quick lecture about Rastafarianism…

And how about snorkeling, diving in caves, deep-sea fishing, scuba diving and some ocean horseback riding experiences – who on Earth can forget that thrill…

I’ve been to different parts of Jamaica and had some of the most authentic jerk experiences from street stands to beach shacks to dinner huts to hotels and restaurants. Every Jamaican chef has his/her own variation of marinade, but there are some key ingredients to it, including allspice (pimento), scallions, thyme, onion, ginger, lime and scotch bonnet peppers.

Warning: scotch bonnet peppers are extremely hot. If you don’t like it too hot and more than one scotch bonnet pepper sounds incendiary to you, limit the recipe to one scotch bonnet pepper only and then taste the marinade to figure out if you’d like to add a few more. Keep a bunch of Red Stripe beer in your fridge to cool down the flames Jamaican way.
Some Jamaican chefs like John Bull from Reggae Kitchen, don’t use ginger in marinade (he remarkably refers to his jerk prep as ‘maya-neering’ or, sometimes, ‘money-raiding’ (perhaps when he wants to share some ganja tales at the same time). Others, like the Carribeanpot Chef, do and my final collective and tested recipe is close to his.
Don’t be put off by the list of marinade ingredients. It really takes maximum 10 minutes to prepare, as long as you are mentally ready and the list is checked off. Just put everything except chicken in a food processor or blender, and puree the ingredients into the paste. Rub it into the chicken immediately and store in the fridge overnight.  Once the chicken is marinated, you can use the classic grill-smoking, oven-baking or pan-frying methods to cook it.
Note: slightly scoring chicken helps to improve the marination process.
Grilling Method:
Traditionally, the jerk is slowly cooked over the pit fire coals with lots of added smoke from pimento leaves.  At the end it’s supposed to be charred, but not over-charred. For additional smoke in your BBQ, add some smoke chips to the grill or place a piece of smoking wood (spraying it with water when it ignites).
Preheat the grill to medium-high or build a medium hot charcoal grill. Clean and lightly oil the grill. Place chicken skin side down, grill for 5 minutes to form the crust. Turn to the other side. Grill for another 5 minutes.  Cover the grill and lower the heat to the minimum. Continue grilling until cooked through for about 30-40 minutes, turning often to prevent burning. Alternatively, (and if/or pressed with other chores), you can transfer the 10-minutes grilled chicken to 350F oven and finish by baking it for 30-40 minutes.
Oven Method:
Preheat the oven to 400F. Place chicken in foiled and greased pan skin side up. Roast for 20 minutes. Turn chicken to the other side. Lower the heat to 350F and bake for another 15 minutes. Turn chicken back to skin side up and bake for another 15 minutes, or until cooked through and the juices are running clear. Transfer chicken to platter, cover loosely with foil and let stand for 5 minutes before serving.
Pan-Frying Method:
On a cold rainy night, try a simplified ‘spatchcocking’ (flattening) pan-fried method (I described previously in other chicken recipe) for faster and juicier results. Turn on the exhaust (you really need it for this method – the nice cooking jerk smell will go all over the place). Place the chicken on a medium-heated skillet with a bit of oil (1 tsp), brown slightly on one side for 5-6 minutes, turn, cover with heat-resistant plate and weight (I used the flat stone, you can use the brick or the pan filled with water). You will be surprised how moist, tender, yet crispy your marinated jerk can come out from just a frying pan in less than 30 minutes. Of course, this no longer will be a smoked version of jerk, but you will still get most of its amazing flavors.
Serve with a big green salad (like watercress chopped salad I posted previously) and rice to offset the heat and, naturally, a tall glass of cold beer (Red Stripe would bring you closer to Jamaican experience).
Are you ready now to make Jamaican Jerk in your kitchen? Let’s put some nice reggae from a wonderful soundtrack of the Chef movie and proceed to the recipe:

Cheers to the Jerk! Indulge yourself in real Jamaican flavors…
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One year ago: Indian Summer Dinner
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SPICY JAMAICAN JERK CHICKEN & MARINADE*
Yields: 6 to 8 portions
*Note: This marinade is also good for grilled pork, fish or sausages.

Ingredients:

2 small to medium-sized chicken (preferably, free range), cut in 4 parts each
Salt and pepper to taste
2-3 tbsp soya sauce
2-3 tbsp vegetable oil
5-6 tbsp apple cider vinegar (optionally, other vinegar)
Juice of 1 lime
Juice of 1 orange (or ¼ cup of orange juice)
1 bunch of (6-10) scallions, coarsely chopped
½ small onion, coarsely chopped
1 thumb knuckle of ginger, skin on
1 tbsp allspice, (preferably, freshly ground)
1 tsp dried thyme or 2 tbsp fresh thyme
½ tsp ground nutmeg
½ tsp ground cinnamon
3 cloves garlic
1 to 5 scotch bonnet peppers (begin with one and add more after for more heat if desired)*
2-3 tbsp of brown sugar, or Maple Syrup (for Canadian twist)
2 tbsp coarse sea salt
*Note: alternatively, replace scotch bonnet peppers with equal amount of habanero peppers, or double of jalapeno peppers, or 1/3 cup of scotch bonnet sauce.
Instructions:
Lightly score the chicken pieces with few not too deep slits. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and set aside.
Mix the rest of the ingredients in a blender or food processor (liquids first, then solids) into a puree. Taste for the salt and add more if desired. Check for spicy, sweet and sour:  the marinade should taste sour-sweet-salt-spicy good and balanced.
Rub the chicken with marinade and refrigerate overnight (to three-five days).
Use one of the cooking methods listed above with instructions: grilled, oven-cooked or pan-fried.
Serve with traditional rice and beans, green salad and beer.