This week is the end of August which means a long bank holiday weekend. Thinking of this, I realised that normally it would be Notting Hill Carnival, the renowned Caribbean carnival and the largest street party in Europe, which of course won’t be going ahead due to Covid-19. My dad is from the West Indies, Guyana, so the flavours of the Caribbean, although very much watered down through my English mum, were sporadically present during my childhood. Later, when I moved up to London, I lived in Notting Hill for a number of years, the flat that I shared overlooked one of the streets on the carnival route, so for a few years I had the perfect seat to spectate! I must admit since those days, over twenty years ago, I haven’t visited the carnival – I think I was spoilt from having had the private view from my flat(!), however I do like to watch the highlights on television as it brings back not only the memories of my younger years but also the culinary flavours which my dad would bring to our table every so often when I was a child. It is these flavours that instilled in me the love of cooking; during those ‘tasteless’ years of the seventies it showed me that there were interesting and exotic flavours to be found! So, this week I thought I would have a little celebration of the Caribbean on Menu Mistress, this is more of a theme, as apart from my dad’s curry recipe, they are not necessarily authentic recipes but they do have the subtle, spiced flavours of the West Indies. They are all recipes which I have enjoyed over the years so I hope that you will also enjoy them, and that they will bring a ‘carnival of flavours’ to your dinner table!…
Spiced Chicken breast with Sweet Potato Mash (Serves 4)
I must admit that before tasting this recipe I had never truly liked sweet potato, but the lime and coriander in this dish cut the sweetness of the potato, it really is delicious. So if you aren’t a lover of sweet potato please try this recipe – you will be converted! This subtly spiced chicken dish is very easy to make, making it a perfect midweek dinner.
4 boneless, skin on chicken breasts
1 kg sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into large chunks
1 level teaspoon coriander seeds
1 level teaspoon cumin seeds
½ teaspoon fenugreek seeds
2 cloves garlic, crushed
4cm piece of ginger, peeled and chopped
2 level teaspoons ground paprika
2 tablespoons lime juice
2 tablespoons groundnut oil
75g unsalted butter
1 bunch of coriander, chopped – keep a few sprigs back for decoration
Lime wedges, to serve
Sea salt and black pepper
- Place the sweet potato in a steamer, sprinkle with salt and steam for about 20 minutes until cooked through.
- Meanwhile, place the coriander, cumin and fenugreek seeds in a small frying pan and ‘dry-roast’ for about 1 minute until they smell aromatic. Finely grind in a mortar and pestle. Add the garlic, ginger, paprika, 1 tablespoon of lime juice and the oil, mix to a paste.
- Make 2-3 cuts about 5mm deep in each chicken breast. Rub each breast all over with the paste.
- Place the chicken breasts on a baking tray in a preheated oven, 200’c fan, for 25 minutes until cooked through.
- When the sweet potatoes are cooked through, place in a bowl and mash, adding the butter, remaining lime juice and plenty of black pepper. Stir through the chopped coriander.
- Pile the mash in the centre of 4 plates, top with the a chicken breast and garnish with the coriander sprigs and serve with lime wedges.
Carnival Chicken Rice with Plantain (Serves 4 – 6)
Another subtly spiced dish, if you want a little more heat, you could serve it with a chilli sauce – I recommend the Encona Original Pepper Sauce which is readily available in supermarkets. The plantain is an important addition to this dish so don’t omit it, as it lifts the whole dish, the plantain must be ripe; it should have a dull yellow colour with patches of black, if you can’t find it in your local supermarket you should be able to buy it from a Indian/African grocery store. This is a recipe that I have ‘tweaked’ from Diana Henry’s ‘A Bird in the Hand’.
200g white long grain rice
250g tomatoes, chopped
2 large cloves garlic, chopped
4 spring onions, chopped
2 red chillies, halved and finely sliced
¼ teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon ground cumin
3 tablespoons fresh coriander, chopped
4 skinless, boneless chicken thighs
3 ripe plantain, peeled and sliced (see note about plantain – above)
Sea salt and black pepper
Hot pepper sauce – optional (see note above)
- First cook the rice according to the instructions on the packet.
- Meanwhile in a frying pan heat 1 tablespoon of oil and cook the tomatoes for about five minutes, then add the garlic, spring onions, chillies, oregano and cumin. Remove from the pan and keep warm.
- Wipe clean the frying pan and heat another 2 tablespoons of oil, season the chicken thighs and fry on both sides until cooked – a total of about 9 minutes. Once cooked cut into strips and keep warm.
- In the same frying pan heat enough olive oil to cover the base of the pan to shallow fry the plantain. Cook the slices on each side until golden brown – it will take about 5 minutes in total. Remove and drain on kitchen roll. Sprinkle with salt and a little juice from one of the limes.
- Finally, add the rice, chicken and tomato mixture to a clean frying pan and gently heat through. Stir through the chopped coriander, and about 2 tablespoons of lime juice, season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Serve the chicken rice with the sliced plantain, the remaining limes, quartered and, if desired, some hot pepper sauce on the side.
‘Daddy’s’ Curry with Fried Plantain (Serves 6)
Ok, this is my comfort food recipe, I am sure that we all have one of those from our childhood – our hug on a plate! My dad is from Guyana in the West Indies, and this is the curry that he grew up on. West Indian curry is totally different to Indian curries, it is not supposed to be particularly spicy, it is more of a stew with potatoes which is served with a ‘pepper sauce’ on the side to spice things up if you desire (try Encona Original Pepper Sauce ). Traditionally it is made with goat meat or mutton. Goat meat is now becoming quite popular in the UK, you should be able to order it from your butcher, otherwise it is available mail order from Coombe Farm Organic , unfortunately they only sell the diced meat off the bone which works, however the bone does give the finished dish more flavour. Often, in the Caribbean, curry is served with rice and peas (kidney beans), but I like to serve it simply with plain, white, long grain rice, and with some fried plantain on the side (recipe below). Plantain is another hug on a plate, and is a must as an accompaniment for this curry, if you can’t find it in your local supermarket you should be able to find it in a grocery store which sells Indian/African produce. I like to buy the ‘Rajah’ or ‘TRS’ brand of spices for this curry as I feel that the quality is more authentic, so if you can, shop for these – I buy them from my local Indian grocery shop.
*It is important to leave this curry 24hours before eating it in order to develop the flavours.
1.5kg shoulder of goat or mutton, 1kg diced meat and 500g of bone diced
1 onion, chopped
3 large garlic cloves, chopped
1 red chilli, chopped
6 tablespoons olive oil
4 heaped tablespoons of mild madras curry powder – see note above
1 level tablespoon ground cumin (jeera powder) – see note above
1 level tablespoon ground coriander (dhaniya powder) – see note above
2 teaspoons garam marsala
3 medium potatoes – peeled and quartered
2½ teaspoons of salt
8 tablespoons water, plus 285ml
- Wash the meat and bones(to rinse it of blood), put to one side.
- Heat the oil, fry the onion, garlic and chilli over a medium heat until lightly browned.
- Meanwhile mix the curry powder, cumin, coriander and 1 teaspoon of the garam marsala with the 8 tablespoons of water to create a paste.
- Add the curry paste to the onion mixture and cook gently for a couple of minutes to thicken.
- Add the meat and bones, stirring well. Cook for 10 minutes, until water starts to be given off.
- Add the potatoes and salt, stir and place a lid on the pan, simmer over a gentle heat for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally .
- Add 285ml water and cook for a further 30 minutes.
- Remove from the heat – it is now important to leave it overnight in the fridge so that the flavours develop.
- 24 hours later, reheat the curry and cook gently, over a low heat for 1 hour – if the sauce looks dry half way through cooking add a little extra water, but it should be fine without.
- Before serving, remove the bones, sprinkle over the remaining 1 teaspoon of garam marsala and stir.
- Serve with fried plantain and white, long grain rice, and with hot pepper sauce on the side – if desired (I prefer it without this added heat).
*The plantain must be ripe – it should have a dull yellow colour with patches of black.
3 plantain, peeled and sliced
- Pour enough olive oil in a frying pan to generously cover the bottom of the pan, place over a medium to high heat.
- Once the oil it hot place the sliced plantain in the oil and fry each side until golden – I use two forks to turn each piece over individually.
- Drain on kitchen roll and sprinkle with salt.
Caramelised Rum Bananas with Vanilla Ice-Cream (Serves 4)
A super quick and a very delicious dessert!…
*you could make this without the rum for an alcohol free option
60g unsalted butter
6 tablespoons dark brown sugar
4 ripe bananas, cut in half and sliced lengthways
3 tablespoons dark rum (optional)
Vanilla ice-cream to serve
- Place the butter and sugar in a frying pan over a low heat, stir until the sugar dissolves and begins to bubble. Simmer for about 2 minutes then add the bananas, continue to simmer for another minute or so.
- Add the rum, stir and remove from the heat.
- Serve with a scoops of vanilla ice-cream.
*You can see the video of this dessert being made by clicking on this link to my Instagram Page