You’ve probably searched for a Caribbean recipe for fish, shrimp, crab or some other marine mate, but Caribbean cuisine is not all seafood. In fact, the national dish of many of the islands contains no swimmers, and the most common meat throughout the region is…. chicken! The best thing about Caribbean chicken is the incredible variety of tastes, so get ready to get hungry!
While there’s some debate about the name (In Trinidad no one knows if it is pronounced pay-low or pil-low, while in Guyana it’s simply known as ‘cook up rice’), there’s no debate about it’s importance to casual Caribbean cuisine. This is party food. Correction, fete food! This is beach lime, post football match, Carnival Monday lunch food. Rice and peas make it a full meal, not just the protein on the plate. Folks unfamiliar with it can think of a simpler Jambalaya maybe. Our pick for the recipe comes from Trini Gourmet.
We really hope that by now a lot of people understand that there is a large population of East Indians living in the West Indies, but we also understand if it comes as a surprise to you. Indian culture in the Caribbean has its roots in post-slavery indentured labourship arrangements for an agricultural industry that needed many workers. The vast majority of the new workforce came from India. As a result curry is a staple in most Caribbean households, and has morphed from the original recipes to suit the region. We look to Guyana to lead us on this one, with a recipe from Inner Gourmet.
This might be the most famous Caribbean chicken of all, and it is owned by Jamaica! No other Caribbean nation can claim a version that can match the original in popularity. Those who love spicy food rejoice in jerk, but it’s much more than just the heat. There are also some really good pre-packaged seasoning mixes out there like the Walkerswood brand. If you want to start from scratch then here’s a guide from Serious Eats.
If you thought stew belonged to the irish you’re about to be corrected. Stew shows up on the dinner plate (or bowl) once a week or more in many Caribbean households. The sauce is thicker or thinner, lighter or darker depending on the cook’s taste so you play with it, but you must try it! Get hooked with this technique from Trinicooks!
The number of fried chicken outlets across the Caribbean is almost frightening. A dazzling array of local and foreign brands are everywhere, and some even deliver! But the option to do it yourself at home is also ever present, and Caribbean Pot has provided the delicious instructions!
Thousands of Trinbagonians indulgence in a ‘lunch special’ that features this salty, moist-on-the-inside, but crisp-on-the-outside chicken dish on any given work day. More often purchased than home made but the New York Times has given us instructions for those of us who prefer DIY.
Puerto Rico brings us the best chicken soup of the Caribbean! Well…. depending on how you like it, because it’s kind of a cross between soup and paella. The inclusion of olives separates it from any other recipe on this list too. MyRecipes provides the details for you.
Cuban food fuses mainly Spanish and African cuisine, using ingredients that grow in Caribbean soil. It is bold, and most people think of dark meat with rich sauces aside beans. The Cuban take on chicken however places emphasis on fresh flavours, and a balance between sweet and salt. It is also the only dish on our list that involves glorious Caribbean mango (in the accompanying salsa)! Here’s a method submitted to Allrecipes.
Creole food, and the equivalent all over the world has odd-ends of the animal as a trademark. Chicken foot will shock you with the flavour it adds! Add to the intimidation of this dish the fact that it is essentially a pickling process. Actually, are you intimidated or intrigued? Here’s instructions from Simply Trini Cooking for the chicken foot version, and Deatra Cole’s video instructions using white meat.
We are making it clear, up-front, that we do not want you to make this dish. Not because it’s too complicated, or dangerous, or not delicious! But because ‘mountain chicken’ refers to a particular breed of large frog that lives in Dominica that has a rapidly depleting population. As in 80% of them are gone due to over hunting and a recent fungal disease. Sad, but true, the once national dish of Dominica can no longer be cooked with pride. Perhaps someday the froggies will bounce back, and if they do you will have this recipe from Caribbean American Foods handy!
We hope you try them all out (oops, except the last one). Share this blog with others and let’s get everyone testing Caribbean recipes for themselves!