What’s Cooking in… Jamaica

By Sandra Scott
This item appears on page 42 of the October 2019 issue.
Chef Dwayne of <b><i>Ciao Jamaica</i></b> with a plate of Jamaican Goat Curry — Negril. Photos by Sandra Scott

In March I needed to get away from the cold and snow of Upstate New York, so I flew to Jamaica and stayed at the SamSara Cliff Resort (West End Road, Negril, Jamaica; phone, in the US, 876/957-4395 or 315/307-4395, negrilhotels.com).

The hotel is a couple hours from Montego Bay’s Sangster International Airport, but the hotel provides transportation for $87 one way.

The hotel is located on low cliffs, with several flights of steps down to or into the water. Guests enjoyed jumping in the water from the top of the cliffs, and several guests told me that the snorkeling by the cliffs was great.

Its sister hotel, Legends Beach Hotel, is located on a beach not far away, with free transportation between the two. I was glad I opted for SamSara because it was much quieter and bigger, and I was able to have relaxing massages at their oceanfront, al fresco spa, Solana.

On the ride from the airport, I noticed many free-range goats. Wondering how goats got to Jamaica, I resorted to the Internet.

It seems that they were introduced by the Spanish and Portuguese in the 16th century, and interbreeding and natural selection created goats that have adapted to the Jamaican climate.

Ciao Jamaica (West End Road, Negril, Jamaica; 876/393-1400, ciaojamaica.com), located across the road from the hotel’s reception area, served goat curry, which made me wonder how curry, which I associate with India and the East, made its way to Jamaica.

The English took over Jamaica from the Spanish, and curry arrived along with people from the East India Trading Company. It has become a traditional Jamaican dish.

Ciao Jamaica’s Chef Dwayne agreed to let me watch him prepare the Jamaican Goat Curry I’d ordered ($20 for the dish).

Sandra Scott can be reached by email at sanscott@gmail.com.

Jamaican Goat Curry

1⁄2 tsp mustard oil
3 tbsp Jamaican-style curry powder, divided
1 onion, ½ diced, ½ sliced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp ginger, minced
½ Scotch bonnet pepper, diced
½ tsp black pepper
1 tsp kosher salt
2 tbsp vegetable oil
2 lbs goat meat, cubed
½ cup sliced carrots
½ green pepper, julienned
¼ tsp dried thyme or sprig of fresh thyme
2 cups water
1 cup potatoes, peeled and diced

Mix two tablespoons curry powder, diced onion, garlic, ginger, Scotch bonnet
pepper, black pepper and salt. Rub mixture into the meat. Refrigerate for two hours.

Heat vegetable oil in a heavy-bottom skillet over medium heat. Add the remaining tablespoon of curry powder plus sliced onion, green pepper and thyme. Sauté for one minute. Add the marinated meat and carrots. Sear meat. Add water. Cover, reduce heat to simmer and cook for about 1 hour 20 minutes or until the meat is tender. Add the potatoes and cook until tender. Serve with rice.

Marinated goat meat added to the frying pan.
Jamaican Goat Curry ready to serve.
Seafront sunbathing at the SamSara Cliff Resort – Negril, Jamaica.
Ingredients for Jamaican Goat Curry.