Chicken Curry, Colombo Martinique-style

Full disclosure: I’ve never been to Martinique and I don’t have any family or friends from there to teach me proper recipes. This is, therefore, reverse-engineering as best I can a dish I’ve only had in restaurants. Still, the result tastes good, it’s easy to make, and it’s a one-dish meal.  (I stupidly forgot to take a photo, but we still have some in the refrigerator so I’ll try to snap a shot when I reheat it.

The sauce needs to be pretty spicy because the chicken, potatoes, coconut milk and fruit all serve to tamp down the heat.  So don’t be afraid to put in the whole hot pepper, and even add more spice if you have to.  And upon reheating any leftovers, the fruit will tend to overcook so you may want to add more.

Using de-boned chicken allows cooking a little faster (especially if you cut the meat in one inch or 2.5 cm cubes) but I like using a whole chicken that I cut myself; it’s cheaper and it gives me a carcass to make chicken broth with.  You can vary the vegetables and tropical fruit as available.

Spice Mix

  • 2-3 cloves garlic, crushed
  • ½ to 1 hot red pepper (Scotch Bonnet is great) OR ¼ tsp (1 mL) dried chili seeds plus ½ tsp (2 mL) black pepper
  • 1 ½ tsp (7 mL) sea salt
  • 1 tsp (5 mL) coriander seed
  • 1 tsp (5 mL) yellow mustard seed
  • 1 tsp (5 mL) cumin
  • 1 tsp (5 mL) cardamom seed (from shelled pods)
  • ½ tsp (2 mL) turmeric
  • 1 tsp (5 mL) fresh ginger, grated
  • ½ tsp (2 mL) dried marjoram

Grind all into a paste (a food processor is good!), put in a plastic bag, and toss the chicken pieces in. Shake well, seal, and place in the refrigerator for at least three hours.

Curry

  • 4 Tbsp (60 mL) oil (olive, sunflower or peanut are good)
  • A medium chicken, cut in pieces and skinned, marinated in the spice mix
  • 4-6 potatoes (depending on size), peeled and diced
  • 1-2 big carrots, in thick slices
  • 2 tomatoes, chopped
  • 4 big shallots or 2 small onions, chopped
  • 1 cup (250 mL) chicken stock
  • 1 cup (250 mL) coconut milk
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 2 yellow squash, diced
  • ½ cup (125 mL) rum
  • 2 ripe mangoes, peeled and cut in big chunks
  • 1 ripe papaya, peeled and cut in big chunks
  • 2 bananas, in chunks
  • Juice of ½ lime

Heat 2 Tbsp (30 mL) oil in a heavy sauce pan. Sauté shallots or onions for 10 minutes; set aside. Brown the chicken on all sides. Add the potatoes, carrots, more oil, and return the shallots or onions to the pan; cook until softened and browned, stirring frequently.

Add bay leaves, stock, tomatoes and coconut milk. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer for about 40 minutes. Add the squash, simmer for 5 more minutes. Adjust seasoning.

Five minutes before serving, add the rum, lime juice, and fruit. Serve on rice.

Makes 8 portions.

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