Then let it sit for about 3 minutes before rinsing thoroughly. Mix thoroughly and allow the chicken to marinate in the seasonings for at least 2 hours. If the curry mixture seems to be getting too dry, add tablespoonfuls of water as needed.After the chicken has marinated, mix curry powder and turmeric in a small bowl with 3/4 cup water until completely dissolved. You want to keep stirring the curry slurry and allowing it to cook without burning for about 4-5 minutes on medium low heat. Eventually you would see the oil bubbling through the curry mixture, and the curry will have become a thick paste. The amount of sauce should come up to about a third of the height of the chicken. To eat it the traditional Trini way, grab pieces of chicken with your fingers and enjoy.
I’m telling you: for Trinidadians, curry is serious business. And I invited him to write, not just about his travels (I still have a few more installments to post for his most recent trip), but also about cooking.And just like that, all it took was a well-timed, and off he was to his laptop to type out a recipe for me. (Of course, little did he know that when I said “people,” I meant the six or seven people who read my blog. ) As varied as Trinidadian curry versions are, a few things remain constant: Yes, we use that much seasoning for the meat.Believe me, it makes the finished dish so flavorful. The cooking of the curry is, for me, the trickiest part of the dish, so I assembled this little collage so you’ll know what to expect if you do try to make this.And we add turmeric (the yellow powder above) to Trinidadian curry, both for its subtle flavor and for color. Only when the curry has cooked down to a thick, gritty paste do you throw in the seasoned meat. You’ll notice some liquid in there, and you want to cook that down. If it’s too bland, just continue reducing the sauce. You can try adding coconut milk to round it out, and end up with a different version that’s still really, really good.The curry that Tom buys there is a strong blend that doesn’t contain much turmeric. Once the pot is almost dry again, add enough water to help create a sauce, and continue simmering the chicken. The hardest part is over, and now you just cook the chicken until it’s done. I have to say that I was never a big fan of curry, but Tom’s cooking has converted me.And now, before my husband changes his mind and decides to become secretive again about his recipe, here it is in all its glory.
————————— Curry Chicken alla Tom 1 chicken, about 3-4 pounds cut up into small pieces (or just chicken legs, chicken thighs, or even chicken breast) 2 rounded tablespoons Trinidadian curry powder 2 teaspoons turmeric powder 6-8 sprigs of cilantro 8 cloves garlic 2-3 scallions, or you can use half of an onion 1 tomato ½ scotch bonnet pepper, or you can substitute 1 jalapeno pepper or ½ teaspoon cracked black pepper (adjust to taste) 1 teaspoon yellow mustard (use any type) 2 teaspoons salt (adjust to taste, but make sure the chicken is seasoned well) ½ medium onion 4 tablespoons vegetable oil 1 whole lime, used to wash the chicken Cut chicken into small pieces (if you don’t mind larger pieces, you could leave a leg or a thigh as one piece).
The size is really not critical—it is just a matter of how your family prefers to eat chicken. Squeeze a fresh lime onto the chicken and stir it around for a while in a bowl, allowing the lime to cover all the chicken parts. In a small chopper, place cilantro, garlic, scallions (or half an onion), pepper (adjust according to your tolerance for heat), and tomato. Add these to the chicken along with the mustard, salt and black pepper.
During the early years of our marriage, Tom was definitely not as forthcoming with his curry secrets.
Even more specifically, my husband Tom’s Trinidadian chicken curry. There are as many different versions of curry in Trinidad as there are individual cooks in those islands. Each one has his or her own method, and some guard their secrets so closely that they’ll season their meat the night before, far from prying eyes, and then feign a hearing impediment the next day, when asked for their recipe.
He’d stand over his pot, stirring (or, as they say in Trinidad, “turning the pot”), and he’d sneak glances to check where I was before throwing some extra spice in.
If I came anywhere near the stove, he’d position himself right between the pot and my line of sight.