Jamaican curry chicken with potatoes is a little taste of the Caribbean no matter where you are. Jamaican curry powder, scallions, fresh thyme and habanero or scotch bonnet. All the Jamaican flavours you love in one dish.
This is probably the third most famous Jamaican dish. Jerk chicken is number one. Jamaican patties probably number two. And then Jamaican curry. Chicken curry. Goat curry. Fish curry. So good.
Caribbean is not Indian
You could be forgiven for thinking this is like Indian food. It’s called curry. And it tastes like curry. But not like Indian curry.
If you’ve never had Jamaican curry chicken it’s time to fix that. It’s tasty stuff. Not so intensely flavoured as Indian. Not as complex. But those aren’t bad things. Not at all.
You can get Jamaican curry powder at specialty shops. Don’t substitute Indian or generic “curry powder”. It’s not the same.
Jamaican curry powder has ingredients you won’t see in Indian. Like allspice. And corn flour. That’s what thickens the curry. You need Jamaican curry powder.
Simple. Straightforward. Not a lot of ingredients. Pure. Delicious. This recipe is back to basics. Easy.
Habaneros don’t have to mean crazy hot
Don’t be scared of habaneros. Or scotch bonnets if you can get them. They can be hot. Really hot. But most of the fire is in the membranes inside the chilies. In the seeds as well.
The walls aren’t anywhere near as hot. Get rid of the membranes and the seeds and you have a much tamer chili. All the taste is still there though. That wonderful fruity habanero flavour shines without the burning heat.
Still some zing in the walls though. Don’t think you can add 20 and not melt the pot. One is a good number unless you want real fire.
It’s not hard to cut out the membranes and seeds. Chop the top off. Cut the remaining chili in half lengthwise. Cut out the membranes and seeds. Done.
But please wear gloves. Those plastic gloves at bulk food stores work well. The last thing you want is capsaicin on your hands. Touch your eyes and off to the hospital you go. You do not want that. You won’t get to eat your wonderful Jamaican curry chicken…
Choice of chicken matters for Jamaican curry chicken
There are a lot of recipes out there for braised dishes that start with “cut up a whole chicken”. That’s a recipe for a mediocre braise. Unless you are a master chef.
The problem with mixing white and dark meat is cooking time. Think about your holiday turkey. How hard you fight to keep the breast moist while the dark meat cooks.
Same idea. Not as dramatic but same idea. Mix white and dark in a braise. Overdone white meat. Underdone dark meat. Pretty much guaranteed.
Use dark meat for this recipe. On the bone. Whole pieces. You need the time to cook the potatoes. Small pieces of boneless chicken will be dry as dust by the time the potatoes cook.
Dark meat on the bone is forgiving. There is margin for error. And it’s way tastier. Good reasons to use thighs when you make Jamaican curry chicken. Or any braised chicken dish.
Jamaican curry chicken is dinner tonight
This isn’t a hard recipe. It takes a bit of time but most of it is simmering unattended. This is totally doable during the week. Maybe 20 minutes of work. The rest of the time it’s on auto-pilot. And in the end you get something special. How can you not want that?
Serve Jamaican curry chicken with rice. Or even better with rice and peas. Jamaican curry chicken with rice and peas. That is a killer combination. One that’s sure to please.
jamaican curry chicken
Jamaican curry chicken
- 8-10 pieces bone-in, skinless chicken dark meat please
- 3 tbsp neutral oil - vegetable or canola etc.
- 1 yellow onion diced
- 1 1/2 cup chicken stock
- 1/2-1 seeded habanero chili with internal membrane removed
- 4 sprigs fresh thyme
- 3 green onions chopped
- 2 floury potatoes - cut in 3/4 inch dice. Russet or Yukon gold work.
- 3 tbsp Jamaican curry powder - available at specialty markets
- 1/2 tsp granulated garlic
- 1/2 tsp coarse black pepper
- pinch allspice powder
- 1 tsp salt plus more to taste at the end
- Combine all the spice mix ingredients. Set aside
- Heat the oil in a 5 or 6 quart dutch oven over medium heat. When the oil shimmers test a bit of chicken. Just touch it to the oil. If it sputters, you are good to go.
- Put half the chicken into the pot and fry to lightly brown. Remove and set aside. Repeat with the rest of the chicken. Set the second batch of chicken aside.
- Reduce the heat to medium low. Add the onions and cook until translucent. This takes 3-4 minutes.
- Add the spice mix. Cook, stirring constantly, for about 30-45 seconds to bloom the spices. Take a page out of Indian cooking here. It makes a difference.
- Turn the heat up to medium high. Add 1/2 cup of chicken stock and scape up any browned bits on the bottom. Return the chicken to the pot along with the potatoes, thyme, habanero and green onion.
- Add the remaining cup of chicken stock and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to maintain a steady simmer. Cover and cook for 40 minutes.
- Taste. You may need a bit more salt. Garnish with some more thyme leaves and sliced green onions. Serve with rice or Jamaican rice and peas.