West Indian Curry

I was once placed on a government back-to-work scheme for artists. Our talented bunch even included the guitarist Wreckless Eric (who pretty much hated my music), but hey ho. One day Grace, the admin assistant, brought in a huge pot of Curry Meat and rice & peas for us (we were all on fixed-term contracts, and I seem to recall it was her leaving do). It was the first time I tried a West Indian curry, and I was transported!

How does it differ from an ordinary curry? It uses local ingredients such as Jamaican pepper (allspice), thyme, and scotch bonnet chillies (which have a very distinctive taste) - but most surprising of all...soy sauce!

Originally it would have been made with goat's meat (Curry Goat), though lamb, mutton, or shin of beef would also do. If you happen to have a slow cooker, that's the best way to cook this. Chicken thighs also work well, as would fresh mackerel, or, for vegetarians, mushrooms - or any combination of mushrooms, potatoes, sweet potatoes, and beans.

I'm not a fan of chilli heat, but I enjoy the flavour of scotch bonnets, in this case from the jerk paste I use. Half a teaspoon gives me the taste, but with very little heat. If you are a fan of chillies, you could add more during the cooking.

Serves 3 with rice; 4 with the addition of a salad or two.


For the marinade:

3 teaspoons mild curry powder

1/2 teaspoon allspice

a scant 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

1 teaspoon brown sugar

1 clove of garlic, crushed

1/2 teaspoon jerk paste - or more

3/4 teaspoon dried thyme (or a handful of fresh sprigs)

1 tablespoon soy sauce

2 onions, finely sliced

1 large bay leaf (or equivalent)

500g - 1kg cubed meat, chicken pieces, mackerel or mushrooms

For the curry sauce:


1 tin chopped tomatoes

water (1/2 - 2/3rds of a tin)

1 small green pepper, chopped

If you're unfamiliar with any of the ingredients, find out more about them here:



Mix the curry powder, allspice, black pepper, dried thyme (if using) and sugar well, then work in the garlic and the jerk paste. Stir in the soy sauce, then coat your main ingredient in it. Finally stir in the onion, bay leaf, and fresh thyme (if using). Cover, and leave overnight in the fridge to marinate.


Separate your main ingredient from the marinade and brown in hot oil. If using mushrooms or fish, remove and set aside before adding the rest of the marinade ingredients. Fry for 5 minutes or so.


Add the tomatoes, 2/3 of a can of water, and the chopped green pepper, pop on a lid and bring to a simmer. At this point, a meat curry could be transferred to a slow cooker for hours of long slow, cooking; otherwise simmer on the lowest heat for 2 - 3 hours, adding water if the sauce becomes too thick. Chicken can be left on the hob; it will take 50 mins. Add the reserved fish or mushrooms 35 minutes into the cooking time, and cook for a further 15 minutes.


Retrieve as many of the thyme stems and bay leaves as you can, then serve with rice or Rice & Peas, and maybe a potato salad and a green salad on the side.

Any questions? You can use the comments form at the bottom of the page.

Did you know?

You'll find recipes at the back of all the books in the Send for Octavius Guy series:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

{"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}