Jamaican Curry Powder

Jamaican Curry Powder

In the 1800s Jamaican curry was a kind of coconut rundown made by taking the jelly of a very young coconut, boiling it in its own water with a little cinnamon and adding curry powder to taste. Introduced by the British, it was not very common among poor Jamaicans.

That was before the East Indians came to Jamaica as indentured servants. Today, curries are very much a part of Jamaican cooking. Curry shrimp, curry lobster and the world-famous Jamaican curry goat are popular all over the island. Jamaican curry powder tends to be a tad hotter than Madras blends, with more hot mustard. Scotch bonnet peppers and Jamaican ginger powder add to the heat of Jamaican curries.

Making your own curry powder may seem a little extreme, but it is a wonderful lesson in the interplay of flavors and how the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. In Jamaica, all the ingredients listed here are available in the wild or at the market. By mixing and grinding spices in a mortar you will come to understand the amazing difference between freshly ground and store-bought curry.

If you can't find one or two of the ingredients, your curry powder will still be usable, provided turmeric is not one of the missing ingredients. A rhizome like ginger, but smaller and more yellow, turmeric is essential for a good curry powder.

5 parts ground turmeric
4 parts coriander seeds
3 parts cayenne
1 part ground ginger
1 part grated nutmeg
1 part whole allspice
3 parts fenugreek seeds
2 parts cumin seeds
2 parts whole black pepper
2 parts star anise or aniseed
2 parts yellow mustard seeds
1 part whole cloves

Combine all the ingredients. Store the curry powder in a tightly sealed jar away from light and heat.

From: Traveling Jamaica With Knife, Fork & Spoon by Robb Walsh and Jay McCarthy
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