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Sian’s Caribbean Kitchen: Honoring My Grandmother’s Legacy Through Cooking​

Cooking in Jamaica among family helped me feel closer to my grandmother, like I was carrying on her legacy.

I always worry about what will be lost in my decision to not have children, especially when I know the importance the kitchen holds for us.

It’s chaotic, messy, and hot as hell. Every door stands wide open, begging for even the slightest breeze.

My grandmother and her sister are known, across Sheffield, for their meals. Pearce Top, a sprawling plot of land that our family has lived on for more than 50 years, is legendary for holiday meals, Christmas especially, so how could we disappoint?

I still don’t know how we managed to fit almost 15 people in five bedrooms with no A/C, while feeding even more, but we did because that’s what we do.

That’s what we’ve always done. From my grandfather, to my mother, to me, and now beyond—we feed people.

So even though my grandmother isn’t here anymore, she gets to live on, in the kitchen and beyond.

It helps to know that this little family and its little traditions will survive, and thrive, across oceans and generations.

RECIPE:

Sian's Curry Chicken
Adapted from an original recipe first published in Nyammings by Sian Rose

Prep Time 10 Minutes
Cook Time 40 Minutes     Serves 4 to 6

INGREDIENTS

1 Tbsp of neutral oil

2 Tbsp of curry powder

1 Tsp of salt

1 Tsp of black pepper

5 whole berries or ½ Tsp of ground allspice

1 sprig of fresh thyme

2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped

Optional: 1 Tsp of red pepper flakes

1 medium onion, chopped

1 medium potato, cubed

Optional: 2 medium carrots, chopped

2 lbs of chicken, chopped (bone-in or boneless)

½ cup of water

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Heat oil in a large skillet or dutch pot over medium heat. Add curry powder and stir until the oil is absorbed. A small amount of smoke from the powder is normal.


  2. Add the remaining seasonings, garlic, and onion. Stir well.

  3. Once the garlic and onions are fragrant, add the chicken, stirring until completely coated.

  4. Reduce heat to medium-low and let cook for 20 minutes.


  5. Add water, thyme, carrots, and potatoes. Stir well. Cover and let simmer for an additional 10-15 minutes. Serve.

 

Serving suggestions: For an authentic Jamaican experience, serve with rice and peas, boiled dumplings, and ground provisions or steamed cabbage and carrots.

Author’s note: In Jamaican kitchens, it is standard to wash meat with vinegar and/or lime, before pre-seasoning, at least 2 hours in advance of cooking. The USDA warns that washing meat can increase the risk of cross-contamination and foodborne illness. This recipe is an adaptation that will yield equally delicious results, while reducing prep time and undue risk.

 

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