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I was given this recipe by a weathered old sailor whilst on a trip to the verdant Caribbean isle of Antigua. I love Caribbean cooking, with it’s eclectic influences from Africa, the India sub-continent and Europe. This particular curry is quite easy to cook and it’s versatile enough to substitute with goat, lamb, beef or chicken, or if you’re vegetarian try it with chunky cut vegetables or tofu.

I’ve slightly modified the recipe that was written, literally, on the back of a napkin to replace ingredients to easy to buy outside major cities like London.  I’ve also added peppers, white wine and the Henderson’s Relish (or Worcestershire Sauce if you can’t get “Hendo’s”).  

Keep adding small amounts of warm (boiled and cooled) water as the sauce cooks to get the right consistency you want, just don’t “over water” it as that will make it too runny. The starch from the potato will thicken the sauce as it cooks. If the sauce is too runny, just leave the lid off the pan for a while until it reduces slightly.

Caribbean Prawn Curry from AntiguaThe original recipe used three (yes that’s 3!) Scotch Bonnet Chillies and was very, very hot.  I just use one of the birds eye chillis you can buy in all supermarkets and find one small chilli (about 5cms long) with seeds is sufficient for my taste as there’s also heat in the Jerk anyway. If you’re not one for spicy food, add half a chilli without seeds, let it infuse for five minutes and then taste. Keep adding until you get the right level of heat but just allow for the heat increasing as the infusion continues.

I prefer to keep this simple and serve with homemade roti or other flatbreads. If you prefer rice, this also goes well, and to get keep Antiguan vibe cook with a splash of coconut milk and with a few beans.

So, tie up your apron, put on some reggae (check out my favourite Spotify playlist) and get cooking and you’ll soon almost believe you’re in the Caribbean.

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INGREDIENTS

The following ingredients should make enough for two large portions, with maybe a little leftover which you can freeze for another day. Just proportionately increase all ingredients to serve more dinner guests.

  • 1 red onion, finely chopped
  • Generous splash of ground nut, vegetable or sunflower oil
  • 2 tbsp Jerk Curry Paste (see below for homemade paste)
  • 1 red chilli with seeds
  • 1 small Sweet Potato, peeled and diced into 1cm chunks
  • 2 small Potatoes, peeled and diced into 1cm chunks
  • ½ Red Pepper
  • ½ Green Pepper
  • ¼ Teaspoon of Ground Allspice
  • 200g of Coconut Cream (or 400g of Coconut Milk)
  • 100ml of Vegetable Stock
  • Splash of Henderson’s Relish (or Worcestershire Sauce)
  • Ground Black Pepper to season as desired
  • ½ small glass of white wine
  • Juice from 1/2 lime
  • Frozen king prawns (defrosted and marinated overnight in jerk seasoning, lime juice & garlic)
  • Plain or Greek Yoghurt as an accompaniment
  • Fresh coriander, chopped for garnish

Method

MAKING A Caribbean JERK CURRY PASTE

If you don’t have Jerk Curry paste but do have some jerk seasoning in your cupboard, you can easily make your own paste.  Unlike Jerk Paste bought in a jar from the supermarket, the powdered jerk seasoning lasts for a long time.  Simply add a couple of teaspoons of jerk seasoning into a small pot, add a teaspoon of ground nut or olive oil and one crushed garlic clove.  Mix into a paste with a teaspoon, adding dribbles of luke-warm water as necessary to get the right consistency, which should be a creamy paste that doesn’t run off the spoon.

Making the Delicious Antiguan Curry Sauce

Add a generous splash of oil to a hot skillet, deep drying pan or, as I do, a wok. Once the oil is at temperature (it should start smoking a little) add the onions and gently fry for five minutes.  Don’t let the onions burn or dry out, you want them soft and starting to brown.

generousAdd the sweet potato and potato cubes together with the curry paste, chilli and the allspice and then fry on a medium heat for a further 5 minutes. Stir regularly to prevent the mixture sticking to the pan (you can add a little more oil if the mix dries out too quickly). 

Add a splash of white wine whilst the pan is hot and let it sizzle and mostly boil away. Season with a little ground pepper. If there’s no sizzle, you’re broiling the vegetables not frying them, so turn up the heat a little.

When the potato starts to brown, turn down the heat and carefully add the coconut cream, vegetable stock, peppers and thyme. I add a generous splash of Henderson’s Relish at this point (Hendo’s is a much tastier alternative to plain old Worcestershire sauce, but use the latter if Hendo’s isn’t available where you are). Finally season with a little ground black pepper.  There’s no need to add salt as the jerk paste has all the salt this dish needs. 

Bring the sauce to the boil, then turn the heat down, cover the pan and gently simmer for another 20 minutes until your potato is soft when pressed with a fork, stirring occasionally.  If the mixture is too wet, take off the lid for a little while.  If it is too dry and sticking to the pan, carefully add a little boiled water and stir until you get the right consistency.

Once cooked, you can mash a few of the potato and sweet potato pieces with a fork to add a little more starch and thicken up the sauce if needed. 

At this point, if you want to save the sauce for later or freeze some of it, you can do so.  Only add the prawns if you’re serving right away.

If you’re eating it now (why wouldn’t you want to!) then add the prawns and stir carefully so they are coated in the sauce. Simmer gently for a further 5-7 minutes or until the prawns are pink (don’t over-cook the prawns as they’ll become tough and flavourless). I prefer to use fresh prawns as the frozen ones tend to shrink and become tough when cooked.

Serve in the pan, with a garnish of fresh coriander.  Accompany with plain or Greek yoghurt (perhaps with a splash of olive oil, a little chopped or crushed cucumber and some mint) and roti* (see below), or come coconut infused rice if you prefer.  

*How to Make the Roti

Roti are basically flat-breads.  To make them simply add 2 cups of self-raising flower and 1 cup of wholemeal flour to a large bowl. Add 2 teaspoons of oil (olive, sunflower or vegetable) and gradually add ½ cup of warm water, mixing with a spoon while you go. You can also add 1/2 teaspoon of salt if you like, but it’s healthier without.

Once the mixture comes together, knead for about 5-8 minutes and slowly bring the mixture together into a ball – time to get your hands messy!  If the dough is too sticky, add more wholemeal flower a little at a time until you can shape the ball in your hands without it sticking.  If it’s too dry and crumbly, carefully add a little more water. You’ll know when the consistency is right as you should be able to roll it out onto a worktop without the need for more dusting flour to stop it sticking to the rolling pin.

Cover the dough ball in a damp cloth and leave to rest for 5 minutes.

Then roll the dough into a big circle about 3-4mm thick.  Then spread a teaspoon of oil across the surface of your dough and roll it into a large sausage shape.  Cover with a damp cloth and leave to rest for a further 10 minutes or until you’re ready to cook.

To cook, heat a skillet or large frying pan until it smokes a little.  Cut your sausage into sections each about 5 cms long.  Roll out each section into a small circle, the thinner the better but not so think it easily tears.  

Carefully place one of the dough circles into the pan, move it around with your fingers so it doesn’t stick and then cook for a couple of minutes.  Lift an edge of the roti to check that it’s browning nicely and then flip it over. Place a dab of butter on top and then cook for a further 2 minutes or until the underside is also starting to brown (but not quite burning).  Wrap in tin foil to keep it warm and moist, and repeat for the other Rotis.

Tip: I always find, for some reason, the first roti is never as nice as the others.  It’s as if the pan needs coating first.  So just use a small piece of the dough to make a tiny roti and cook that first, moving it around the pan as it cooks.  If it’s too dry, you can then just discard it and use the subsequent full sized rotis you make, or nibble on it if it did come out well after all.

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