Jamaican curry is the first type of curry I’ve ever tried, which isn’t much of a surprise being that I’m from Tampa – a place that’s tightly interconnected to the Caribbean Islands. I ordered it from Jerk Hut, off of Twiggs St., where they served their curry the traditional, family way: a styrofoam tray with three compartments.
The main section was loaded with sweet, fragrant, spicy, yellow curry, full of of tender carrots and chunks of chicken, waiting to be shredded at the slightest tug of a fork. One of the small sections was filled with steamed vegetables, namely cabbage. And the other small compartment, was filled with Jamaican Rice & Peas – i.e. rice and kidney beans – which is a hearty rice dish, fragrant with allspice and rich with coconut milk. I was hooked.
Obviously, there are some challenges that seemingly threaten the alteration of this dish into being vegan friendly, namely the chicken conundrum. The chicken in Jamaican curry is either left in whole chunks – thigh and breast left in tact – or shredded right before plating. Either way, the chicken is as tender as a down pillow, which got me thinking:
“What can I replace this with?”
It didn’t take much thought before I came to the conclusion: “Jackfruit!”
After all, canned jackfruit is processed with minimal ingredients (water, salt, and jackfruit), tender, neutral in flavor, and is a breeze to shred. Not to mention, it’s a fruit native to the tropics – albeit, not the tropics of Jamaica. However, it still instills one with an island feel. It’s treated the same way the chicken typically is: kept in big chunks at the beginning of cooking, sautéed with oil & Jamaican curry powder, then simmered in a mixture of coconut milk and mushroom broth, which takes the place of chicken broth.
This brings us to our next question: “What is Jamaican curry powder comprised of?”
Well, the spices aren’t all that different than those found in Garam Masala or Thai Curry Pastes: cumin, coriander, black pepper, cloves, and mustard contribute to the base of this powder. Although, what makes Jamaican curry powder special is the addition of allspice, which is actually a berry native to Jamaica, Central America, and the rest of the Caribbean islands. Before being used, allspice berries are dried, ground up, and used as seasoning in many parts of the world, not strictly limited to Jamaican cuisine. If you’ve never had it before, think of it as a mixture between cinnamon, nutmeg, and clove, which makes it a popular addition to Fall time desserts, such as pumpkin pie.
Of course, being that cumin, coriander, and mustard seeds are crucial ingredients in Jamaican curry powder, one can tell that this is a modern food, as such spices only hit the global market with the start of the Columbian Exchange in the late 1400s. While Columbus may have been a rotten bastard, he did make way for some tasty culinary traditions to be formed… not that that makes up for mass genocide or anything.
Spices weren’t the only thing Columbus opened the doors of trading to, he also opened the door for trading of slaves on the global market. As explored in our post “Cauliflower Tikka Masala,” India was controlled by the British from the 17th-20th centuries, as well was Jamaica. So, they did what colonials did and brought Indian slaves over to Jamaica to work on sugarcane plantations; along with Indians came their esteemed spices. With Jamaican and Indian slaves working side by side, their culinary traditions began to fuse, creating a heavenly fragrant cuisine. Jamaican curry is a testament to this event.
As I’ve mentioned before in our Refried Black Soy Beans recipe, the only canned beans I recommend someone on a lectin-limited diet consume are those from the brand “Eden.” The reason being is that they pressure-cook their beans directly in the can, which destroys most of their lectins and phytates, making them gut friendly. If you have no idea what I’m talking about, then this probably isn’t relevant for you. But, if you follow the Plant Paradox Program, then save yourself several trips to the bathroom and seek out Eden’s beans.
To my great relief, the process of cooking Jamaican curry – curry powder, rice and peas, and all – only took us 1 hour and 15 minutes, which makes this the quickest curry that we’ve done thus far. Part of that is due to the fact that we use jackfruit, which doesn’t have to be cooked into tender submission the same way chicken does; this is the perfect simple, quick, and satisfying curry recipe for you and your loved one or fam. As is, the recipe makes enough for 2-3 patrons, but if you’d like to make enough for the whole fam, simply double the recipe!
We hope you enjoy our vegan, lectin-limited take on classic, shredded chicken Jamaican curry! This dish is:
- Slightly Spicy
I owe a special thanks to Jerk Hut who inspired the flavor profile of this dish! This recipe reflects their sweet, style of Jamaican curry.
If you like what your taste buds are tellin’ ya, leave behind a nice rating, share your thoughts with us in the comments, or show us your creations by tagging @noeggsorham on Instagram.
All the best,
Ryan & Kim
Jamaican Jackfruit Curry with Rice & Peas
Tender jackfruit - seasoned with Jamaican curry powder - takes the place of shredded chicken in this sweet & aromatic curry! For Plant Paradox friendliness, refrigerate rice and peas overnight and use Eden's kidney beans.
Jamaican Rice & “Peas”
- 1 c dry long grain rice (Thai Jasmine or Indian Basmati)
- 14 oz can of Eden’s kidney beans, liquid reserved
- 1/2 c full-fat coconut milk
- 1 garlic clove, roughly chopped
- 4 sprigs of fresh thyme, whole
- 2 scallions, chopped into fine rounds (bottom 1/3 only)
- 1/4 tsp freshly ground allspice
- Heavy pinch of salt
Jamaican Curry Powder
- 1 tbsp cumin seeds
- 1 tbsp coriander seeds
- 2 tsp allspice berries
- 1 tsp black pepper, whole
- 1 tsp fenugreek seeds
- 1/2 tsp cloves, whole
- 2 tbsp ground tumeric
- 1 tsp yellow mustard powder (1 1/2 tsp is using whole)
- 1/4 tsp garlic powder
- 1/4 tsp cayenne powder
- 2 c canned jackfruit, drained (about 1 1/2 cans)
- 2 medium carrots, cut into large chunks on the bias
- Half a yellow or white onion, largely diced
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 3 tsp curry powder, divided
- 1 c mushroom broth
- 1 c full fat coconut milk
- 4 medium garlic cloves, roughly chopped
- 1 bay leaf
- 5 sprigs of fresh thyme
- For Rice & Peas: Strain liquid from can of beans into a measuring cup. To that, add coconut milk and enough water to equal up to 1 3/4 cups of liquid – if using Thai Jasmine rice – and 2 cups of liquid – if using Indian Basmati.
- Combine all ingredients in medium sauce pot covered with a lid and bring to a boil over high heat.
- Turn heat down to low and simmer for 15 minutes, covered. Remove lid, and keep over low heat until ready to serve (max 30 minutes), rehydrating with a touch of water as needed.
- If you desire to turn the simple carbohydrates from your rice into resistant starch, then refrigerate your rice and peas overnight, prior to making the curry. When you’re ready, reheat rice over medium heat with an added splash of water until hot; about 10 minutes.
- For Curry Powder: Toast all whole spices in a small pan over medium high heat for 3-4 minutes or until the spices are fragrant and the cumin begins to pop & brown.
- Grind in an electric coffee grinder or mortar and pestle until smooth. Stir in tumeric, mustard, garlic, and cayenne.
- Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to two months.
- Jackfruit Curry: Heat a large high-walled sauté pan or wide soup pot over medium heat.
- Once hot, add olive oil to coat the bottom of pan followed by jackfruit, onion, heavy pinch of salt, and 1 teaspoon of curry powder. Turn the heat up to medium-high and cook, stirring often, until jackfruit is lightly browned; about 5 minutes.
- Add in 1/2 c mushroom broth and scrape the bottom of the pan to scrape off any pieces of burnt goodness. Stir in coconut milk, bay leaf, thyme, 2 teaspoons of curry powder, and the rest of the mushroom broth.
- Cover with a lid, turn heat down to medium, and cook – stirring occasionally – until carrots are tender; about 20 minutes.
- Remove bay leaf & thyme sprigs and serve while fresh with Rice & Peas. Store leftovers in an airtight container – in the fridge – for up to three days. Reheat rice and/or curry in a medium pot over medium heat, along with a touch of water, stirring occasionally, until hot; 5-10 minutes.