I am always keen to try new things in the kitchen. As you’ve seen so far, there have been dishes inspired by Japanese cuisine, Indian cuisine, Italian and French cuisine, and plenty of other world-wide cuisines. After wanting to order jerk chicken for so long, and not actually doing it because it required a long walk to pick it up and they were always sold out, I decided to take matters into my own hands. It’s such a shame that I have lived in South London for nearly a year and still haven’t had proper peas and rice or jerk chicken but we’ll get to that post-quarantine. For now I will experiment!
For the record, as with most of my recipes, I did a lot of combining and experimenting before I came out on the other side with this. In the end, the combinations came from here, here and here.
“What makes a Caribbean curry different from an Indian curry?” you may be asking. In fact, this is what everyone asked me when I said that I would be making this. It comes down simply to the ingredients. As opposed to garam masala, turmeric, and the other go-to’s I normally use, I trusted on a tub of Caribbean curry powder on the shelf. It’s literally called that, and I am sure you could find it in your local shop just as I did. Tropical Sun is a great brand, including their delicious addictive crunchy coconut peanuts. You can purchase the curry powder that I used here. My other handy spice is a delicious smoked Spanish paprika, which you can purchase here.
Now, as you are already perusing the web for some spices, I will take this opportunity for your perusing to go further. Though the large movements in the streets have stopped gaining media attention, and economies and public spaces open up worldwide, I would like to make a plea to wear a mask when you go outside. I know that this seems to be not on track with Black Lives Matter activism, but in fact it is intrinsically involved. In the UK, and around the world, BIPOC/BAME individuals die at higher rates due to COVID-19. There are calls to research this in the UK, and here is a handy little video explainer. One easy and concrete action that we can take to protect our fellow people is to simply wear a mask and wash our hands when going out or coming in from being out. It is not about restricting your freedoms, but rather about protecting others’ lives.
Now, this curry is SPiCY! If you don’t like spice, too bad. It is also vegan, though, which is encouraging if you are looking to turn to a plant based diet and want to experiment with some new cooking.
Let’s begin with the coconut rice. This sweet-savoury combo counteracts the spice of the curry so nicely. Originally, I was going to make rice and peas, but when searching for recipes I stumbled upon this. I am so excited to eat the leftovers, because the coconut rice was one of the best things that I have ever ever eaten. It is also so simple. I modified the recipe slightly but it made it more coconut-y and thus more delicious. I will put the recipe right in here:
- 1 Tbsp olive oil
- 1 onion, diced
- 1 can of coconut milk (400mL)
- 225g of long grain rice
- 400mL vegetable stock
- Dice onion, add olive oil to a sauce pot over medium heat. Cook onion untli just translucent.
- Add in rice grains, stir until coated with oil and mixed with onion.
- Add coconut milk and vegetable stock. Bring to a boil.
- Reduce to simmer, cover, and cook for about 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Leave on stove covered but without heat until ready to serve.
The kitchen smelled of delicious coconut milk and I was getting excited about making a new curry. Aaron was a help and chopped up all of the vegetables for me, which I definitely recommend doing beforehand if you’re cooking alone – mise en place makes everything in the kitchen so much easier!
The reason I use so many recipes is to adapt to what I have available. Sometimes I want a little more than what one recipe calls for or a little less from another, sometimes I want the spice mix from one but the vegetables from another, and so on. It came down to combining the spice mix from the earlier mentioned recipe and the vegetable mix from the other.
We are out of tinned tomatoes, which meant another challenge. Luckily, thanks to a vegetable box delivery, we have plenty of tomatoes. Big, juicy and ripe tomatoes. In order to substitute for the tinned variety, Aaron chopped up 3 big tomatoes, and put them into a jug for me. With the immersion blender at the ready, I added spices (a tsp of ginger and garlic paste, 1 tsp of hot chili powder, and a pinch of garlic powder), and topped up with about 100mL of water, and then BLENDED! This came out with a slightly liquid consistency but that is okay. We need the liquid for the potatoes, and we chopped up one more tomato to leave nice and chunky inside the curry.
To begin, as with any curry, dice an onion and cook it until translucent in some oil. Add a hearty Tbsp and a half of hot Caribbean curry powder and cook until fragrant. I also added a dash of the Spanish smoked paprika, and then poured in the tomato mix. I stirred and let this cook, then added in two small peeled and diced potatoes. While this came to a simmer, we reach a very important step – washing and skinning the chickpeas.
*Chances are, you've never skinned a chickpea. Just run them under some water in a sieve, and start pinching away. They come out very easily. It is a therapeutic activity, to feel them pop out between your fingers, and their consistency after being cooked is creamier, more flavoursome, and altogether better.
Once these are skinned, pour them into the curry, bring to a simmer, add some more spices (this time I added a dash of Jamaican yellow curry powder) and cover, leaving it to cook for about 15 minutes or until the potatoes are soft. You may need to add a small amount more of water. The final step is simply stirring in a couple of handfuls of spinach and mixing until wilted. Adjust the spices as you wish, and serve over a bed of that delicious rice.
Spicy Caribbean Chickpea Potato Curry
- 1 onion, diced
- 1 Tbsp olive oil
- 11/2 Tbsp spicy Caribbean curry powder
- 1 Tbsp Spanish smoked paprika
- 1 tsp + Jamaican yellow curry powder
- 1 tsp ground coriander
- 2 potatoes, peeled and diced
- 1 tin chickpeas, skinned
- 1-2 handfuls spinach
- 4 tomatoes, diced
- ~200mL water
- 1 tsp garlic and ginger paste
- 1 tsp hot chili powder
- pinch garlic powder
- Dice onion, add olive oil to large skillet, cook until translucent on medium heat. Add hot curry powder and mix, cooking until fragrant.
- Combine 3 diced tomatoes, garlic and ginger paste, hot chili powder, garlic powder, and 100mL of water, use immersion blender to mix until thick but liquid. Leaving some chunks is better.
- Add tomato mix to the onion, bring to a simmer.
- Add potatoes to tomato and onion mix. Stir until well incorporated. Add a dash of yellow Jamaican curry powder. Add the remaining chopped tomato.
- Rinse and skin chickpeas. Add to the skillet along with 50-100mL water.
- Cover and let simmer for 15-20 minutes, until the potato is soft.
- Serve, on the bed of coconut rice!
Y-U-M! This will do me over until I manage to get a reservation for the vegan jerk Sunday brunch from the borough over. Let me know if you try! And remember to wear your damn mask!