Curry chicken is a favorite in Trinidad and Tobago.
It is made with seasoned chicken pieces with bone, curry powder popular on the islands, seasonings and pepper.
This is not a typical curry that you’ll find in India. There, curry chicken is akin to chicken cooked in a tomato sauce with curry leaves and coconut milk.
This recipe is very different since it’s made with a unique curry powder blend that is popular in T&T and the wider Caribbean.
Speaking of the Caribbean, curry chicken is very popular in Jamaica and Guyana.
In Guyana, the dish is called chicken curry – no idea why. The difference in phrasing makes for great fun, jokes, memes and trolling among people of the two Caribbean territories.
So, if you are in T&T, don’t call this dish chicken curry…
What is in this Trini curry chicken recipe
For this Trini curry chicken recipe, you’ll need these main ingredients:
- cut-up chicken pieces with the bones still in
- Caribbean green seasoning (contains chadon beni, garlic, Spanish thyme)
- curry powder (contains coriander, turmeric, cumin, fenugreek, salt, fennel, mustard and chilies – the local Chief brand is most popular)
- vegetable oil
Optional ingredients can include:
- geera (cumin) powder
- garam masala powder
- fresh herbs
- coconut milk
- potatoes (to make curry chicken and aloo)
If you are not currently in T&T, you can find the unique curry powder on Amazon.
How to make curry chicken (Trinidad recipe)
Prepare the raw chicken
To get started, you should clean and wash the chicken. Remove any slime and unwanted fatty tissue. Skin and bone can be left on.
I’m assuming here that the chicken is already cut up into small two- or three-inch pieces. If not, chop the chicken at this point.
Once everything is cleaned and cut to your liking, wash the meat thoroughly a couple times.
Mix in a tablespoon of flour or lime juice and wash the meat again. This is something Caribbean people do to remove any sliminess and ‘fresh’ smell from the chicken.
Speaking of Caribbean people, we wash our meat! Foreign health agencies do not recommend washing meat because it can cause cross-contamination and can leave your sink covered in pathogens.
We don’t really follow those recommendations here… We use soap to keep our hands and surfaces clean. Oh and we use bleach to disinfect our sink and surfaces too. It’s a little extra work but it’s a small price to pay to remove that ‘fresh’ smell and taste.
Season the chicken
I most often use Caribbean green seasoning, pepper and salt to season the chicken pieces.
To make green seasoning, wash chadon beni (culantro) leaves, podina or Spanish thyme leaves and any other fresh herbs like fine thyme and celery (cilantro). Peel garlic cloves. Cut peppers and remove the seeds and white membrane to reduce the heat. Ginger is another great addition too.
Grind the fresh leaves, herbs, garlic cloves and pepper together with a little water.
That’s your homemade green seasoning.
Add that fresh seasoning and salt to the chicken. Mix to coat evenly and leave to marinate overnight or at least several hours.
I usually freeze the chicken pieces with the green seasoning. So, when it’s time to make curry chicken, all I have to do is to defrost and go.
Sauté onions, garlic and more
Once the chicken is well marinated, it’s time to start cooking.
To a large pot on medium heat, add oil and allow to heat up.
Next, add in chopped onions and pepper. Stir and sauté for a couple minutes before grating in garlic and ginger. Stir again and allow to cook for a minute or two.
Cook the curry
Add the dry curry powder to the oil. If it’s too dry you can add a little more oil.
Let the curry powder patch in the oil for two minutes. Stir to prevent burning. It is important to cook the curry properly; otherwise, you may experience some digestive distress.
Now, add a little water (like ¼ cup) to create a simple curry sauce. Again, this must be cooked thoroughly until the sauce completely dries out. This can take about eight to ten minutes.
As the curry dries, stir often to prevent the ingredients from burning.
Add the seasoned chicken
Once the curry is dry or almost dry, add the seasoned chicken pieces. Mix to coat the chicken in that delicious curry paste of sorts.
Cover the pot completely, lower the heat, and leave the chicken to release its natural liquid.
After about 15 minutes, remove the cover. You’ll see the chicken cooking in a runny sauce of its own natural juices.
You want that liquid to completely boil off. This can take about ten minutes. You can turn the heat up for a minute or two after that. This ensures the curry and meat becomes really dry.
If you are using potatoes in your curry chicken recipe, add them in before all the natural juices have boiled off.
With the chicken dry and the curry almost paste-like, add water (a cup to a cup and a half should be enough). This water will give you a nice curry sauce.
If you want lots of sauce or a thinner sauce, add more water. If you want the curry sauce to be thick, add less water.
Cover the pot, leaving a little space to allow for steam to escape. Cook for about 15 minutes.
After that time, remove the cover and cook to the desired thickness of the gravy. Here you can add fresh herbs, coconut milk, and more salt.
Cook for another 10 to 20 minutes. Turn off the stove and serve hot.
Note, as the curry chicken cools, the curry sauce will thicken up.
It’s a long process, but when you’re done, that curry chicken is excellent.
What to serve with curry chicken
Curry chicken goes well with other Indian-inspired dishes. Enjoy it as a side with Trinidad dhal and rice. Or have it with dhalpuri or paratha roti.
With your roti and curry chicken, be sure to add sides like curry channa (chickpeas), pumpkin and mango talkari.
Also, see how to make curry duck here >>.
Oh and if you are interested in more chicken recipes, here are a few:
Curry chicken recipe
Curry chicken recipe (Trinidad recipe)
- 2 – 3 lbs chicken pieces with the bone in
- 2 tbsp Caribbean green seasoning (made with chadon beni, garlic, Spanish thyme)
- 1 onion (chopped)
- 2 cloves garlic (chopped)
- ½ inch ginger (grated)
- 1 pepper (chopped)
- 2 tbsp vegetable oil
- 2 tbsp curry powder
- 2 cups water
- salt to taste
- flour or lime juice or vinegar
Prep and marinate chicken
- Remove slime, unwanted fatty tissue from the chicken pieces.
- Wash the chicken pieces.
- Mix with flour or lime juice or vinegar.
- Wash the meat again.
- Add green seasoning, pepper, and salt (2 tsps).
- Mix to coat.
- Cover and refrigerate overnight or at least 4 hours.
Make curry chicken
- Add oil to a large pot on medium heat.
- Mix in chopped onions and pepper.
- Sauté for two minutes.
- Add in grated garlic and ginger.
- Stir often for one to two minutes.
- Mix in dry curry powder (add more oil if necessary).
- Patch the curry for two minutes, stir often.
- Throw in water (¼ cup).
- Stir often and allow to reduce to a dry paste for eight to ten minutes.
- Toss in the marinated chicken pieces.
- Mix to coat the chicken in the curry paste.
- Cover the pot completely and lower the heat.
- Leave to cook for 15 minutes. The chicken will release its own liquid.
- Remove the cover and cook for 8 more minutes.
- Turn the heat up to high for two minutes to patch the curry and meat.
- Stir often.
- When all the liquid has boiled off, add water (1 cup to 1½ cups).
- Stir again.
- Partially cover pot and turn the heat to medium.
- Cook for 15 minutes.
- Remove cover and cook for another 10 to 20 minutes until the curry sauce is to your liking.
- Serve hot.