Introducing Caribbean Curry
with Stephanie Bullen
Caribbean curry fish ribs
Curry is one of the oldest foods known to man, with roots dating to pre-historic times. The practice of using spices to prepare meats has long been common throughout the Indian subcontinent but spread across the globe as people moved, explored, and colonized.
Photo by Norman B. Leventhal Map Center at the BPL via Flickr
One of the most interesting things about curry is the diversity this one word encompasses. The flavor can vary widely depending on local ingredients and the culinary traditions of the region.
From India, it’s likely that Buddhist monks brought curry to Thailand where it became a staple, incorporating regionally popular ingredients like galangal, makrut lime, and spicy chiles. Today, both Red Thai Curry and Thai Green Curry are popular across the globe.
Curry was then introduced to the Philippines and Indonesia by traders and adapted to include local flavors and ingredients. Imperialism brought this cuisine to the European continent and indentured Indians later brought these culinary traditions to the Caribbean. Today you will find various curries throughout the Caribbean islands.
Our new Caribbean All-Purpose Curry Powder was inspired by this rich history and variety of local flavors. In the French Caribbean islands, Colombo curry powder is inspired by the flavors of Sri Lanka. Colombo relies on a very different ingredient for its unique flavor: toasted or roasted rice powder. On other islands, like Trinidad & Tobago, the history of Indo-Caribbeans and dishes from India influenced the curry recipes. Local ingredients also influenced the development of these dishes. Curries on the island of Jamaica may include goat, chicken, fish, or shrimp.
Creating a single curry powder to represent all of these flavors meant marrying these varied flavor profiles with traditional Caribbean spices. The resulting blend has ingredients commonly found in many curries: coriander (sometimes known as cilantro seed), cumin, fenugreek (sometimes known as methi), mustard, and ginger. Additionally, there are spices common throughout the Caribbean: annatto, roasted rice powder, allspice, and scotch bonnet chiles.
While the scotch bonnet chiles give it a slight warm heat to our Caribbean All-Purpose Curry Powder, this is a ‘family friendly’ curry (meaning it’s mild). As with any curry powder, you can easily make a paste by mixing equal parts curry powder, oil, and water. Often, people simply aren’t sure how to use curry powder unless they have a recipe. We encourage you to experiment by adding this seasoning into salsas or dips, mixing into vinaigrettes, even adding to scrambled eggs.
However, if you need a bit more direction, we have created two Caribbean inspired recipes specifically for this blend:
- Slow Cooked Caribbean Spiced Ribs: Perfect for summer grilling, these ribs have a distinctive island flavor. This recipe features our Caribbean All-Purpose Curry Powder but also includes tropical fruit flavors (coconut milk, orange juice, and lime juice) in the marinade. The Caribbean sauce used to glaze the ribs as they grill has tangy tamarind paste, pungent ginger, sweet preserves, spicy Jamaican Jerk Seasoning, and tart apple cider vinegar. This sauce hits all of your taste buds, so make sure to save a little extra in case you need just one more coating of this barbeque-like sauce. When we made this in the test kitchen, the ribs were gone in the blink of an eye. This recipe is a definite crowd pleaser and gives a fresh, new flavor to a summer classic.
- Caribbean Fish Curry: You may think the next two words just don’t go together: fish curry. I’ll be honest, this was one of Mike’s few recipe ideas that met with a bit of skepticism. Any doubts vanished when we were invited to taste the finished dish. The mild flavor of this curry complements any mild white fish, and you could certainly make it with shrimp or chicken instead. While a somewhat surprising addition, the peas and fresh tomatoes add a freshness that is ideal for such a mild curry. An easy dish, this recipe could also be easily adapted to make a vegetarian version by slightly increasing the vegetables. As with any curry, this is even better if you make it ahead and let the flavors meld.
We encourage you to experiment with our new Caribbean All-Purpose Curry Powder as it would also work well in many other recipes. It would even make a great substitute for Red or Green Thai Curry Powder when preparing more traditionally Asian curries. You can find all kinds of curry-inspired recipes by searching the keyword ‘curry’ in the Recipe section of our website.