As promised, here are a few more recipes from the Trinidad feast that Devica produced earlier in the week.
Devica starts a lot of her dishes with this fresh green Caribbean seasoning. Devica uses it in her curries, as a marinade for barbecued chicken and in fresh salads and relishes. You can buy it bottled in Caribbean shops but homemade has a fresh bright flavor that can’t be found in a bottle. Chadon beni, also called shadow beni and sawleaf cilantro, grows wild in the islands and is also easily cultivated. It’s sometimes available in the States or the UK in shops catering to West Indian expats.
a good handful of shadow beni
a few sprigs of fresh thyme, leaves only
3 celery stalks
5-6 scotch bonnet peppers (use less if you don’t want it really hot)
5-6 cloves of garlic, peeled
Put all ingredients in the blender with about 1/3 of a cup of water. Blend to a rough puree and use immediately or refrigerate.
Audrey was raised on this chicken curry. Devica makes this curry really hot and our Caribbean-reared girl loves the heat. If you’ve just made your green seasoning, add some water to the blender to get every last drop of seasoning and use that as your second addition of water. Serve with rice and roti.
2 pounds of chicken thighs, skinned, trimmed of excess fat and cut in half
3-4 soup spoons full of green seasoning
a sprinkle of ground cinnamon
1/2 medium onion, peeled and chopped
5 cloves of garlic, peeled and grated or finely minced
cooking oil for frying, about 2 tablespoons
more hot peppers if desired (Dede would)
1/4 cup curry powder (Devica uses a combination of a West Indian curry power she gets at the shop and Bones’ freshly made curry powder. You can use any decent curry powder available.)
1 1/2 cups of water
1 stick of cinnamon
salt to taste
3 baking potatoes, peeled and cut into 2-inch chunks
one can of chickpeas, drained
Put the cut up chicken in a bowl and add 3 or 4 spoonfuls of green seasoning and a sprinkle of ground cinnamon. Mix it all up together, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for a few hours.
Heat a heavy pot over high heat, add a little cooking oil and let it get hot. Add the onion and garlic (and another hot pepper or two if you dare) and cook until they start to brown. Add the curry powder, stir it around and let it cook for another minute or two. This will release the oils from the curry and give it a deeper flavor. Add the water and cinnamon stick and cook the mixture over high heat until it’s very thick and a wooden spoon will leave a trail when you drag it across the pot. This will usually take a while, about 20 minutes or so.
Add the chicken and any juices that have accumulated in the bowl, along with a bit of salt to taste. Stir it all together and cook, covered, over medium high heat about 20 minutes. Add the potato and chickpeas and cook for 5 minutes. Add some more water (including that you’ve used to “clean” the blender) to come almost to the top of the chicken mixture. Cover and cook until the potato is cooked through, about 20-30 minutes.
As with most stews, this is just as good, if not even better, the next day. One note – Devica keeps it all at a rollicking boil. I might turn the heat down a bit, maybe to medium. But that’s just me. Serves 8 normal people or 6 Blakes.
You can use a ripeish mango here but a fairly hard, green one is better. It adds a tart note that is more pleasing than the sweetness of an almost-ripe mango.
Peel a green mango and cut it into 1-inch chunks. Add a few small spoonfuls of green seasoning, some freshly ground black pepper, the juice of half a lime, and salt to taste. You can also add a scotch bonnet pepper if your green seasoning is not spicy enough for you. Mix it all up together and refrigerate until ready to serve.
We were invited to Devica’s house for lunch one day and she warned that it would be hot. Now, as you may have gathered, Dede’s food runs from hot to hotter to incendiary. So if she takes makes a point to warn you about the heat, you know you have a lot of scotch bonnets coming your way. In such cases, I always take along a quart of milk in addition to the usual bottle of wine.
Along with all the curries on the table, there was a bowl of cucumber salad. Thinking that the cucumber was the cooling element of the meal, I took a large portion. Well, lunch was hot. Really hot. Really, really hot. The milk was helping, but not much. Finally, I took a good look at the plate and saw the telltale orange flecks in the cucumber salad. Scotch bonnets. Of course, the salad was the fieriest dish on the table. Good one Dede.
1 cucumber, peeled, seeded if necessary, and thinly sliced
1/2 of a small onion, peeled and very thinly sliced
the juice of 1/2 a lime
a scotch bonnet pepper or two, finely chopped (you can also throw in a spoonful of green seasoning)
salt to taste
1-2 tomatoes, chopped (optional)
Just mix it all together and refrigerate until ready to serve. You can warn your guests that it’s hot. Or not. It’s up to you.