Tonight we made a long awaited return to Jamaican cuisine and I must say that I was more than a little bit excited about it. There was a smell of Allspice in the air and I caught a sneaky glimpse of the amount of green chillies going into the pot, so I knew that it was going to be a hot one. In all honesty, originally I took a little bit of convincing on the Caribbean front (mainly due to a bad scotch bonnet experience in the past), but since I've been fully on board, I've never looked back.
Dan took his inspiration completely from Levi Roots on this one, slightly adapted to our personal tastes. The ingredients list and cooking method features in his book 'Reggae Reggae Cookbook' and also online here. He followed this recipe to the letter apart from shallow frying the meat, as opposed to deep frying. We used a pound of chicken thigh meat to serve two people.
The stew takes around thirty minutes to cook, giving ample time to boil up some plain rice, which was our accompaniment of choice, along with some jalapeño flatbreads. To make these you will need self raising flour, plain yoghurt, baking powder, jalapeños and seasoning. Click here to find out how. We didn’t have any jalapeños to hand and Dan begrudged paying three pounds to purchase a jar in the supermarket, so he made his own. We had a couple of green chillies left in the pack so he sliced them, then covered them in white wine vinegar and a pinch of salt, pepper and sugar. He left them to marinate at room temperate for a couple of hours. These did the job just as well as the pre-prepared chillies, in my opinion.
The flavours are always really interesting when you cook up a Jamaican meal. The first word that sprung to mind for me was ‘savoury’. Being a huge fan of savoury food (you have probably guessed this from the current lack of sweet treats on the blog – I’m working on it!), this made it completely up my street. The stew is, essentially, a curry but with a fair amount of juicy vegetables thrown in. However, the meat is cooked whole which gives you ‘nice, big, meaty pieces’ as Dan puts it, which only adds to the full satisfaction factor.
It has a fair old kick behind it (don’t say I didn’t warn you), but works so well with the flatbreads and washed down with a couple of Red Stripes. Sunshine on a plate.