Jamaican curry chicken is one of my favorite dishes from my childhood. When I realized I could make this on Whole30 it made me so happy. Its super easy to make and packs so much flavor!
What is the history of curry in Jamaica?
After slavery ended, many indentured workers came to the island looking for work on plantations. The Indians were among the first to come to the island to work on sugar cane plantations. They brought their spices and recipes with them. Curry itself is not a spice, but a mixture of different spices used to marinate meat for stews.
How is Jamaican curry chicken different from curry chicken in India?
There are two major differences. The first difference is that Jamaicans will toast curry powder in a neutral oil. This is process is called burning the curry. Raw curry powder can give some people digestive discomfort and toasting it prevents that from happening. The second is that in India, coconut milk is used to simmer the chicken whereas in Jamaica water is used. In Jamaica, we don’t always add water when making curry chicken as the chicken will release its own liquid as it cooks.
Tips for making this dish
- Use whatever part of the chicken you like. That can be boneless skinless thigh or breast or bone in skin on.
- For a more authentic meal, you could cut up a whole chicken. It’s usually cheaper to get a whole chicken than chicken parts. However, A whole chicken will take a bit longer to break down so plan extra time.
- As the chicken cooks it will release its own liquid so there is no need to add water in the beginning. If you choose to add water, do not submerge the chicken in water.
- You can reserve half of the onion, bell pepper and green onion before marinating and add that in halfway through the cooking. This is called a second seasoning.
- Growing up we didn’t add carrots or potato, but you absolutely can. I added carrots and chayote squash to this recipe. Other vegetables you can add are green plantain, turnip, zucchini and rutabaga.
- The type of curry powder you use matters. If you can find it, use a Jamaican curry powder like All Seasoning (Whole30 compatible). If you cannot find a Jamaican curry powder, then add a bit more turmeric to your curry powder to give it more of a yellow color.
- If you are on the AIP protocol, use turmeric instead of curry powder. Omit black pepper, bell pepper and pimento. If you cannot find an AIP compliant all-purpose seasoning, then you can omit it.
What can be served with Jamaican curry chicken?
To keep this Whole30 serve with cauliflower rice and vegetable salad. If you are not doing a Whole30, white rice is the way to go. If you added potato and carrots, you could enjoy as a standalone meal. Looking for more Whole30 Jamaican meals? Check out my recipe for Brow Stew Chicken and Chicken Chop Suey.
Whole30 Jamaican Curry Chicken
- Cutting board
- Large skillet with lid
- Mixing bowl
- Measuring spoon
- Measuring cup
- Wooden spoon
- 3 pounds chicken breast or thigh cut in 1 inch chucks
- 4 stalks scallion/green onion chopped⠀⠀
- 1 small onion sliced⠀⠀
- 3 carrots chopped⠀⠀
- 1 chayote squash peeled and cubed ⠀⠀
- ½ green bell pepper chopped⠀⠀
- 4 cloves garlic chopped⠀⠀
- 1 inch fresh ginger chopped⠀⠀
- 1 tsp salt⠀⠀
- 1 tsp black pepper⠀⠀
- 1 tsp all-purpose seasoning
- 1 tsp poultry seasoning ⠀⠀
- 1 tbsp pimento smashed⠀⠀
- 4 tbsp curry powder divided⠀⠀
- 1 cup water⠀⠀
- 2 tbsp coconut oil
- Season chicken with half of the onion, garlic, scallion, ginger and bell pepper. Add salt, black pepper, all purpose and poultry seasonings, pimento, 2 tbsp curry powder and let marinate 30 minutes to overnight. ⠀⠀
- In a heavy bottom pot over medium heat add oil and once melted add the remaining curry powder. Stir until fragrant (1 minute). This is called burning the curry. ⠀⠀
- Add in chicken and marinade to the pot and stir to combine. Add water and bring to a simmer.
- Cover and cook for 10 minutes.
- Add in the other half of the onion, garlic, ginger, bell pepper and scallion. Also add the carrots and chayote squash.
- Stir, cover and cook another 15 - 20 minutes until all the vegetables are cooked. ⠀⠀
- Serve with cauli rice or your favorite sides.