I’ve eaten at many chic and expensive restaurants all over the world. Curry chicken and roti is still my absolute favorite thing to eat. I have been inexplicably attached to curry and Indian flavors and dishes since I was a small child. The few Indian women left in my village who cooked amazing curries, dhals and rotis were true gems. I remember one woman in particular. We called her Ms. Toony. She made rotis for every pre and post funeral celebrations and weddings in the village. She also cooked for large functions at church. She did everything by hand and she made some of the flattest, most perfect and delicious rotis I’ve ever had.
She cooked them over an open fire on a hot tawa probably just as her mother and grandmother had done. She easily made at least 300 rotis per order she got and they somehow always arrived warm, stretchy, doughy, buttery and unbelievably delicious. Sadly since her passing, I’ve never had any roti quite like hers. The closest thing to her rotis that I’ve tried are Guyanese oil rotis, though they are much thicker and have a flaky texture. Check out my replicated Guyanese oil roti recipe here!
Curry chicken and roti was also the first dish I ever learned to cook at around 8 or 9 years old. It probably is the one dish that I have truly perfected over the years. I’ve adjusted this recipe over and over again until I got it just right. When I’m making curry chicken, I always go with a whole chicken that I cut into small pieces.
Every piece of chicken somehow takes on its own profile in the curry stew and I like that dynamic and variability when all parts of the chicken are used. I think that leaving the bone-in and the skin on the chicken gives the dish the best flavor as well. There are a few tried and true steps like burning the curry with garlic and searing the meat first that gives this dish its true signature flavor.
For this recipe you will need:
- Cutting board
- Sharp knife
- Marinade bowl
- Large dutch pot or stew pot
- Large spoon
- Disposable gloves (2)
- Cling film
- 1- 4lb chicken, cleaned and cut-up
- 2 tbsp chicken seasoning
- 2 tbsp Jamaican curry powder, plus 1 tsp for oil
- 1 tsp paprika
- 1 tsp onion powder
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- ½ tsp white pepper
- ½ tsp black pepper
- 3 scallions, chopped finely
- 1 small red onion, diced
- Handful of fresh thyme sprigs
- 1 scotch bonnet pepper, sliced or left whole
- 1 large irish potato or 2 medium potatoes, large dice
- 1 medium carrot (optional)
- 1 clove of garlic, pressed
- 6 tbsp olive oil or canola oil
- 1 chicken bouillon cube
- Salt to taste
- Chop and clean chicken and set aside.
- Prep and chop all veggies and seasonings and set aside.
- Season chicken with chicken seasoning, curry powder, garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, white pepper and black pepper. Use a disposable glove to protect your hands and nails while massaging the seasonings into the meat. Once all the pieces of chicken are evenly coated in the seasonings, cover the meat with cling film and set aside to marinate for at least 1 hour.
- When ready to cook, heat a large pot on medium high heat with 3 tbsp of oil and pressed garlic clove. Once the garlic starts to get fragrant, add 1 tsp of curry powder to the oil. Allow the garlic and curry to cook for about 45-60 seconds stirring occasionally. Do not allow the garlic or the curry to burn. It will get bitter and inedible. You will need to dump it and start from scratch in order to not ruin the dish.
- Add as many pieces of chicken to the pan that can fit on the pan's surface. Do not sit chicken pieces on top of each other as the goal is to sear each piece and build flavor. Sear the chicken on one side for about 2-3 minutes. Turn and sear on the other side for the same amount of time. When you turn the chicken, you want to see that each side has browned and caramelized in the hot pan.
- Remove the chicken pieces from the pan once they are seared on both sides. Add the remaining 3 tbsp of oil to the pan and add the second batch of chicken to the pan. Sear just the same as in step 5.
- Once the second batch of chicken has been seared on both sides, return the first batch to the pan and give all of the pieces a good stir. To the pan add scallions, onions, thyme, scotch bonnet and 1.5-2 cups of water. The water should nearly cover the chicken but should not cover it entirely. You can use hot water or room temperature tap water. Give the pan a good stir and cover. Allow the water to come up to a boil and continue to cook chicken over medium high heat for 25-30 minutes or until the chicken is tender and fully cooked. Check on the chicken about 10 minutes into the cooking time and again at 20 minutes, to ensure the water has not completely dried out and the pieces are not sticking to the pan. Stir the chicken to keep it from sticking and to ensure that all of the pieces will cook evenly. If more water is needed, add a small amount to help the chicken to cook.
- Once the chicken is tender, add in diced potatoes (and carrots, if using) and taste the sauce for salt. Add in the bullion cube and ONLY add more salt if necessary. Allow the potatoes to cook for 6-8 minutes until fork tender. Once the potatoes are cooked and the sauce has reduced and thickened, the stew is ready! Serve with roti or rice and enjoy!