Jamaican Curry Chicken… Just three words: Simple, Bold and Flavorful.
Chicken and potatoes, everyone’s favorite comfort food… Curry it!! You will be amazed how much flavor you get in every single bite. Bring home these fresh and delicious Caribbean flavors, they are extremely straightforward and easy to cook.
Jamaican curry chicken is distinctively bright yellow in color, and after cooking low and slow it ends up melt in your mouth tender, full of Caribbean fresh herbs and spices.
All of these curries end up with different flavor profiles, yet all of them are so comforting and finger licking delicious. Today’s Jamaican curry chicken is no different.
Just some fresh produce and curry powder is all you need to whip up this island favorite…
What is Curry Chicken?
One of the absolute favorites of all the locals from Jamaica, curry chicken is something everyone grew up on and adores. They in fact love to curry everything. Curry goat, oxtail, and shrimp are just a few popular examples.
Jamaican curries are not as hot as some of the Indian or Thai curries. Unlike in India, where individual spices are used rather than a single blend of spices, islanders there use their beloved curry powder.
Jamaican curry powder is bright yellow in color, as it tends to be heavy on turmeric. It’s mild and not very spicy. Every household has their favorite curry brand, Betapac being one of the most popular.
Check out our collection of favorite Curry Recipes!
Most of the curry powders have spices like coriander, cumin, fenugreek, ground mustard seeds, dried ginger and allspice, in addition to turmeric.
If some heat is wanted in the curry, chicken is usually spiced up with scotch bonnet pepper, which is local to the islands. Using additional pimento berries or allspice, either whole or in powder form, is also very common. Throw in some fresh herbs like thyme and cilantro and there you go… one finger licking curry!
Curries in the Caribbean are the outcome of migration in the early 1800’s. It is believed that it came from India, when workers were brought to work on plantations all over the Caribbean to the British colonies.
- Chicken – See below.
- Veggies – Onion, green onions (scallions), bell peppers (red and green) and tomatoes. All veggies are diced.
- Aromatics & Herbs – Garlic, ginger, cilantro and fresh thyme, all chopped.
- Jalapeño – Chopped, with seeds removed. Sometimes we add habanero or scotch bonnet pepper instead of jalapeño for additional kick. Leave the scotch bonnet pepper whole for flavors and not too much kick. If you want more heat, use half of one cut into pieces.
- Spices – Curry powder, allspice berries, pepper and cumin. You can buy Jamaican curry powder in many grocery stores, or in Caribbean grocery stores.
- Olive oil
What Cut of Chicken to Use?
Traditionally, whole cut up chicken is used. You can either do that, or use only dark meat. We recommend using either bone-in skinless chicken thighs or boneless chicken thighs.
Using chicken breast for any curry results in dried out, hard chicken instead of juicy, fall of the bone tender meat.
How to Make Jamaican Curry Chicken
Two important steps for cracking Jamaican curry is marinating the chicken and cooking it slow and low to let the flavors develop.
We kept the chicken pieces on the larger size. You can cut them smaller, but don’t go too small, as they might disintegrate when cooking for a long time.
In a large bowl or pan, mix the chicken pieces with curry powder, salt, pepper, onions, tomatoes, scallions, thyme, garlic, ginger, bell peppers, cilantro, jalapeño, allspice berries, cumin and olive oil. Mix well.
We really recommend marinating this overnight in the refrigerator, covered by cling wrap. This really helps with flavors. If short for time, marinate in the morning, or at least 2-3 hours.
When ready to cook, the real authentic way for many Jamaicans is to “burn the curry”. You start making the curry by heating up the oil in dutch oven or some heavy bottom pan over medium heat and stir in curry powder for about 30-40 seconds.
You actually don’t BURN anything, it’s just a way to release the flavors from the spices.
The next step is to sear the chicken pieces brown, this adds a lot of flavors to the curry. For this, only take the chicken pieces from the marinade, leaving all the rest of the herbs and veggies, and add them to the pan.
Cook the chicken 4-5 minutes per side so it’s nicely seared all over. Now add all the rest of the marinade and veggies in the pot and stir well.
Most of the people cook this curry chicken only in its own juices, or a very small amount of water. Too much water can make your curry chicken less flavorful and bland.
Let the chicken cook with all the veggies for 10 minutes, it releases a lot of juices. Add ½ cup of water along with carrots and salt. Cover and cook for 15 minutes.
Time to add chunks of potatoes and cook till they are soft and the chicken is fall off the bone tender.
- Swap the protein. If you are a fan of goat or lamb, curry goat is extremely popular with Jamaicans. You can make the same curry with shrimp, too. We have a great recipe for Curry Shrimp.
- The above mentioned method is a basic and authentic Jamaican curry chicken. One major variation many households make every now and then is to add in coconut milk to make it more creamy and rich. For this, just skip water and add in a 15oz can of coconut milk when you are adding in the carrots. The rest of the method is exactly the same. We at GypsyPlate love it either way and can’t figure it out yet which one is our favorite… 🙂
What to Serve It With?
- The first choice is always with any kind of your favorite rice, white rice being No.1. This curry is absolutely delicious over a heap of fluffy, freshly made warm white rice. It’s very common to scarf it down with the island’s other specialty, rice and peas.
- It’s excellent with rotis. Jamaicans are fond of rotis, so think rotis, naan bread or parathas.
- Marinate for Longer: Allowing your chicken to marinate overnight will deeply infuse it with the rich, aromatic spices, leading to more tender meat and a flavorful curry.
- Toast the Curry Powder: Toasting the curry powder in hot oil before adding the chicken intensifies the flavors and releases the aromatic oils from the spices. Please don’t skip this simple step.
- Low and Slow Cooking: Cooking the curry on a low heat for a longer period allows the flavors to meld beautifully and the chicken to become exceptionally tender. This slow cooking process is key to developing the depth of flavor that makes this dish a standout.
- Customize the Heat: Tailor the spiciness to your liking by adjusting the amount of jalapeños, habaneros, or scotch bonnet peppers. Remember, the heat level of peppers can vary greatly, so taste and adjust accordingly. Starting with a smaller amount and adding more as needed can help manage the heat without overwhelming the dish.
So good… Like any curry, all the flavors mingle and get accentuated the next day. Make a big batch and enjoy it up to 3-4 days, storing in an airtight container in your refrigerator.
Curry without coconut milk freezes well for up to a couple of months in your freezer. Simply thaw and reheat it, stirring occasionally over stove top.
So what are you waiting for? Get some Jamaican style curry powder the next time you go grocery shopping.
When in a curry mood, go the island way and make this delicious curry chicken in your very own kitchen. We like to bring you all these amazing curry flavors from all over the world.
Subscribe and share GypsyPlate, as there is a lot more coming your way. Get currying, and have fun…
Jamaican Curry Chicken, on our Gypsy Plate… enjoy!
More great Chicken Curries:
Indian Curry Chicken
South African Chicken Curry
Sri Lankan Chicken Curry
Trinidadian Chicken Curry
Country Captain Chicken
Vietnamese Chicken Curry
Chicken Katsu Curry
For chicken marination
- 2lbs chicken, cut into large chunks
- 3 Tbsp curry powder
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 5 scallions, chopped
- 5-6 garlic cloves, chopped
- 1 Tbsp ginger, chopped
- 2 tomatoes, chopped
- 1 green bell pepper, chopped
- 1 red bell pepper, chopped
- ¼ cup cilantro, chopped
- 10 sprigs of fresh thyme, chopped (or 1 tsp dried thyme)
- 1-2 jalapeños (see note1)
- ½ tsp cumin
- 1 tsp salt
- ½ tsp pepper
- 6-7 allspice pimento berries (optional)
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- 2 tsp curry powder
- 2 potatoes, cut into big chunks
- 8oz baby carrots, or 2 big carrots cut into chunks
- ½ cup water
- Salt to taste
- In a large bowl, mix in all the marination ingredients with chicken. Mix well. Cover with cling wrap and marinate overnight, or at least 2-3 hours in the refrigerator.
- Heat olive oil in a dutch oven over medium high heat and stir in curry powder. Keep on stirring for 30-40 seconds.
- Take only the chicken pieces from marinade mixture and place them in the pan and cook 4-5 per side, till they get a nice sear all over.
- Add in rest of the marination to the pot and mix well. Let it cook for 10 minutes.
- Add in carrots, salt and ½ cup water. Mix well, cover and cook for 15 minutes.
- Add the potatoes and cook till potatoes are soft and the chicken is fall of the bone tender.
- Serve over a plateful of rice.
- Jalapeños vary lot in heat level, so use according to the heat of that particular batch of jalapeños. Use 1 or 2 accordingly. If you like more heat in your curry and have some scotch bonnet peppers or habaneros available, use ½ to 1 whole pepper, cut in pieces. Take caution when cutting these hot peppers, and wash your hands thoroughly after handling them. You can use one whole uncut habanero or scotch bonnet if you want the flavor but not much heat.
Nutrition InformationYield 6 Serving Size 1
Amount Per Serving Calories 551Total Fat 30gSaturated Fat 7gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 21gCholesterol 142mgSodium 551mgCarbohydrates 32gFiber 8gSugar 8gProtein 40g
Nutrition information calculated by Nutritionix.
Welcome to GypsyPlate! I'm Alpana, former wordwide tour manager and professional caterer, now full time blogger. I love exploring cuisines from around the world, and my recipes have been featured on sites such as MSN, Parade, Brit + Co, CNET and AOL. You can explore my entire collection of sortable recipes in my Recipe Index or learn more about me here.
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