The Jamaican style of food can best be described as a combination of several eastern and western culinary traditions. Chicken cooked in Jamaica is always served in small portions and eaten with rice. However, its rich, sweet, and spicy flavor makes it a favorite dish in all households.
Grilled jerk chicken is traditionally served as a starter to any meal, but it’s also perfect for special occasions like birthdays, anniversaries, get-togethers, and even just a Sunday lunch. The flavor of the chicken can never be matched by any other dish, as the spiciness of the spices mixed with the sweetness of the coconut and other ingredients does an excellent job of lending a unique flavor to this dish.
It is important to remember that this type of chicken is not meant to be marinated or salted prior to cooking. If you marinate your chicken before cooking, it will lose some of its natural properties and taste. The marinating process of this dish will only give it the required natural ingredients, allowing the chicken to retain its most aromatic properties and taste of the spices.
During the colonial period, jerk chicken was mainly imported from Spain and Portugal, but the Spanish were the first to learn about its spice mixture and popularized it in the Caribbean. This dish was soon adopted by the people of the West Indies, where they found that the distinct taste and spiciness of the spices made it a perfect starter for any meal. The Portuguese people called the spices that added to the original dish “Rosas” and called the sauce that goes with it “rosa”. Today, most of the spices used to make jerk chicken are either produced locally or are imported from other countries.
One of the most important spices used to make jerk chicken is garam masala which is known for its quality and use as a spice; also known as ‘salt’ because it is one of the key components in the recipe that helps it retain its spices. Black pepper is also used to perfection; a little bit of it can help to add the spiciness and sweetness of the coconut to the chicken. Another crucial ingredient of the jerk chicken is cumin seeds which add more flavor to the dish and ensures a rich and spicy taste to the meat. Ginger is also used to perfection and helps to cut the richness of the spice mixture.
Pineapple chunks are also used to perfection and add flavor to the dish. It adds more acidity to the dish, as well as the freshness that most of us crave for during summer. All these spices and ingredients can easily be found at a store near you and if not, can be bought online or in the local market.
The jerk chicken can be prepared in a number of ways; usually, it’s served with rice, but if you’re planning to serve it as a starter to your main course then it is highly recommended that you cook it with rice, not with potatoes, as the taste will be different and it will take longer to cook. Always remember to use good quality coconut milk, because this will ensure the perfect consistency of the sauce.
Use this dish to compliment any meal and to start a wonderful conversation; it’s an excellent starter for parties. Get ready to have one of the most memorable parties of your life.