I’ve never tried making anything Caribbean at home yet. Until we moved to George Street, and I had a chance to meet a lovely person living on the corner of this and Park Street – yes, at its very corner, so no-one can miss her light blue house, and, she won’t miss anyone passing by her front garden, or her backyard – strategically a great position for a person, who is a bit “nosy”, as she once confessed to me. And I love this about her, because except for the lovely Alice next door, she was also one the first people to talk to me here. And believe me, for newcomers, there probably isn’t any nicer way of a warm welcome than saying ‘Hello, how are you?’ asked with a bright smile in a true friendly manner, when actually one doesn’t have to care at all. And right she is, my neighbour and friend Monica, originally coming from Jamaica, married and sharing the same day date of her child’s birth as my Little Person’s. To my great surprise, this cheerful lady agreed to prepare something typically Caribbean for me – surprise, because that happened quite short after our arrival here, when others hardly recognised there’s actually someone new around, and so, here’s how to make some simple and tasty Jamaican Rice & Chicken Curry – a recipe kindly passed to me by her.
In Jamaica, Monica told me, this dish is typically prepared on Sundays, and this kind of rice is usually served with either chicken curry, or fried chicken.
I tried making the rice her way, and it really was nice, tasty, and kind of mild, and I loved it.
Jamaican Chicken Curry, served with this rice will surely bring some warmth to your home as the colder autumn days approach, so don’t hesitate, and give it a go!
Preparation time: cca 60 mins
For the rice you need:
Basmati rice 150 g
Kidney beans 150 g – soaked overnight, cooked, drained
coconut milk – 100 – 200 ml (what’s left may be frozen or kept in fridge for the next time)
1 spring onion
1 twig of fresh thyme
1 tbsp butter
1 tsp salt
Pour the coconut milk in a deep pan, placed on medium heat, let cook for a couple of minutes, then add washed rice and beans, bring to boil, lower the heat, add the thyme and salt and simply let cook.
According to Monica, the milk needs to cook out properly, usually about 15 – 20 mins.
It also needs to be checked few times, and she prefers taking some water away, as the rice should stay rather dry and loose than sticky.
At half time, add the spring onion broken in halves to your rice, and stir the rice, so the beans come up a bit. Add the butter, too.
If you are not so keen on the slightly sweet taste of the coconut milk, you can replace a part of it by fresh water.
After twenty mins, check the rice grain, if it’s soft and done well – just dip in a fork, and if you still see some water at the bottom of the pot – let it cook another while till it dries.
Monica says Jamaican Chicken Curry is best made in a Dutch pot, however, any iron cast pot, or deep pan suitable for stewing would do it well.
Marinate the chicken, which typically is chicken legs, here two, rather than breast, in:
2 tbsp oil, 1 tsp all purpose Jamaican seasoning, 1 tsp chicken seasoning, 1 sliced red onion, 1 tsp curry powder, 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper, and 1/2 Scotch bonnet chilli pepper – if you don’t want your curry too hot, or would serve it to children, skip the chilli. Remember, Scotch bonnet it is one of the hottest kinds of chilli peppers! You can replace that by some milder kind, like Jalapeño pepper.
Marinate the chicken at least half a day, or overnight.
First, place the pot on medium heat, and start with 2 – 3 tbsp oil – can be either sunflower, or olive oil, Monica uses sunflower oil.
When it’s hot, add the chicken – two chicken legs, parted.
Stir fry for 5 – 10 mins, till the meat is golden brown on the skin and sealed. Add 1 tbsp water, while it’s browning.
Your Jamaican chicken must have golden – yellowish colour
Cover the chicken, let cook on lower heat till it softens,
then stir, add 5 – 6 tbsp water and cover again, keep the same heat.
After 15 min, check the chicken, stir, and add a bit more water if needed – the water must not cover it completely at this time, add the onion and chilli peppers from the marinade, stir, and cook covered till the meat is well done through to the bone.
To make this dish takes all together with the Jamaican rice no more than sixty minutes, and is therefore a quick, satisfying and full of flavour meal, served on school days, for example.
Just keep the marinade and kidney beans in mind the night before.
Thank you, Monica, for this easy – to – make and lovely recipe!