Saturday nights are a time for music, relaxation and kebabs. We have decided to label them as such from now on, trying as many different varieties as we can find, from all sides of the globe. This excites me, and I’m already researching next week’s menu. I’m a real one for themes. This weekend we took a trip to the Caribbean with the help of the great Levi Roots. Who else?!

The recipe for his ‘Kickbabs’ can be found in his book ‘Caribbean Food Made Easy With Levi Roots’. They certainly deliver on flavour and to achieve that you’ll need to do a little prep work and make up his jerk spice rub in advance, along with his own spicy tomato sauce – two integral parts of the dish. Believe me, it will be so worth it when you bite into these bad boys. 

To make our version of the Kickbabs (serves two generously) you will need:

– Three chicken breasts (boneless/skinless)

– One quantity of Jerk rub (see below)

– Four pitta breads (or you can make your own Loco bread dough – see book)

– Quarter of a quantity of Levi’s special tomato sauce (see below)

– 50g of Red Leicester or Double Gloucester (grated – we used cheddar)

– Quarter/half of a round lettuce (torn)

– Optional chopped fresh chilli as desired 

For the Jerk rub:

– Half a teaspoon of ground allspice 

– Half a teaspoon of ground ginger 

– Half a teaspoon of pepper 

– Half a teaspoon of chilli powder 

– One garlic clove (finely chopped)

– Two sprigs of fresh thyme leaves (finely chopped) 

– One teaspoon of salt

– One tablespoon of sunflower/groundnut oil 

For the special tomato sauce:

– One can of chopped tomatoes

– Quarter of a garlic clove (finely chopped) 

– One and a quarter inch piece of fresh ginger (chopped)

– Two spring onions (green part only – chopped)

– One hot red chilli (deseeded/chopped)

– Two sprigs of fresh thyme (leaves only)

– One teaspoon of grated nutmeg 

– Three quarters of a teaspoon of ground allspice 

– Three quarters of a teaspoon of ground cinnamon

– Two tablespoons of Demerara sugar (to taste) 

– One teaspoon of salt 

– The juice of half/one lime (to taste)

Method:

– Firstly, make up the rub by mixing all of the ingredients together in a pestle and mortar. 

– Secondly, make up the tomato sauce by putting all of the ingredients into a blender and blitzing it until smooth (making sure to a scrape the sides down a couple of times). Adjust the sugar, salt and lime to taste. Then put it into a saucepan and simmer for five minutes, adjusting the seasoning as required. (It can be covered and refrigerated for up to a week).

– Marinade the chicken in the Jerk rub, covered, for a few hours but ideally overnight. 

– Pre-heat the oven to gas mark 7/220C. Place the chicken on a baking tray and cook for around 15 minutes, turning them over once. The juices should run clear when the meat is pierced with a skewer at the thickest part. 

– Warm the pitta breads through in a toaster or under a grill (be careful not to over do them, as I think it works better when they are warm but not overly crispy) and slice open.

– Slice the chicken and arrange inside the pitta, top with the tomato sauce, grated cheese and torn lettuce (plus some fresh chilli – if you dare!)

– Serve immediately – two pittas each with a bowl of fries on the side to share. 

This was a real treat. Baking the chicken in the oven made it so succulent and juicy, with a warm (from the nutmeg and chilli) and spicy coating that had a real kick behind it (hence the name). The cheese adds another dimension of seasoning and the tomato sauce along with the lettuce and lime juice, really freshens it all up. Food for the soul.

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