Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Day 13 - Bahamas!

Every once in a while, my mood syncs perfectly with the country I'm cooking in - today was one of those days. The weather was cool and rainy, but I was feeling relaxed and mellow, so what better way to (legally) prolong that feeling than to cook up some delicious Bahamian food?

First, the beautiful country whose rich history is so often overlooked for it's beaches and tourist attractions. One of the things about this venture that I find most gratifying is researching the countries. Aside from the culinary adventure, I have the privilege of talking to and meeting people I otherwise never would have from all over the world.  I feel my own horizons expanding in ways that bring a whole new perspective and appreciation for our diverse planet. Can you feel closer to people and places without ever leaving your house? I think I do. 

Documented Bahamian history begins with the words, "Baja Mar," the name the Spanish bestowed on the islands. This term is misleading, however; it means "shallow sea," but the islands are really mountain plateaus that emerged from the Atlantic hundreds of thousands of years ago. As they grew, they hosted countless generations of coral, which today comprise the islands' limestone base.

The "Lukku-cairi" or island people, as they called themselves, were the first settlers. Originally from South America, they meandered up through the Caribbean and finally arrived in The Bahamas around the Ninth Century AD. Known as Arawaks, they are also called "Lucayans" and "Indians"- a label bestowed by Columbus, who mistakenly thought he found the East Indies when he dropped anchor in San Salvador in 1492. Once again, that evil dude invaded and exploited the indigenous people.

Next, English settlers who left Bermuda in 1647 searching for religious freedom formed the first British colony on the Island of Eleuthera, and began a prosperous agricultural economy that still thrives today. Britain then recognized them as a colony in 1718. During the Civil war and Prohibition, the Islands became popular for rum running and eventually served as an air and sea way-station in the Atlantic during WWII. When Cuba was closed to US tourists in the 1950's, The Bahamas forged ahead to become one of the world's most popar tourist destinations. 

Now for the food: I LOVE curry, so decided to make Curry Goat and Pigeon Peas with Rice.

 Goat is tough, so I marinated it overnight in a mixture of scallions, onions, garlic, Scotch Bonnet peppers and curry.

Brown the meat in a large pot, then add broth and coconut milk - that's what I'm talkin' about!

And here are the ingredients for the Pigeon Peas and Rice: peppers, garlic, scallions and thyme sprigs

My spice rack, which was already pretty full, is now completely packed

 Having way more fun than I ever could  have imagined

Curry Goat

5 pounds goat meat, cut into bite sized pieces
1 bunch of scallions, chopped
3 large onions, chopped
3 Scotch bonnet peppers, minced. (For less heat, seed the peppers and remove the veins.)
1 teaspoon allspice
salt to taste
black pepper to taste
About 6 tablespoons curry powder (more or less to taste)
2 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup frying oil of your choice
2 garlic cloves, minced
4 cups chicken stock
1 cup coconut milk
Juice of 2 limes

In a large bowl, combine the goat meat, scallions, half of the onions, 1-3 Scotch bonnet peppers, allspice, salt and pepper, and 4 tablespoons of curry powder. Mix the ingredients together, coating the pieces of goat well with the mixture. Cover the bowl and place it in the refrigerator to marinate overnight.

The following day, remove the goat meat from the refrigerator and set aside. Place a large soup pot over medium high heat. Add 1/4 cup frying oil. When the oil is hot, add two tablespoons of curry powder to the pot and stir it into the oil. Cook the curry powder for a few minutes, stirring it constantly and taking care that it does not burn.
Add the remaining onions and cook them until they are translucent. Add the garlic and the seasoned goat meat to the soup pot and mix well to combine all of the ingredients.

Add the stock, the coconut milk and the lime juice.

Bring the mixture to a boil, then turn down the heat, cover the pot and simmer the goat meat for 2 or3 hours (or until the meat is very tender), adding water as needed.

Curry Powder

5 teaspoons ground turmeric
4 teaspoons coriander seeds
3 teaspoons cayenne
3 teaspoons fenugreek seeds
2 teaspoons cumin seeds
2 teaspoons whole black pepper
2 teaspoons star anise or aniseed
2 teaspoons yellow mustard seeds
1 whole clove, minced
1 teaspoons ginger
1 teaspoon grated nutmeg
1 teaspoon whole allspice.
Combine all ingredients and mix them together well. ( A mortar and pestle are great for blending the ingredients.) Store the curry powder in a tightly sealed jar away from heat and light.

Pigeon Peas and Rice

1 Cup peas (canned or dried)
2 Cloves garlic
5 Sprigs fresh thyme
2 Cups rice
4 Cups water
1 Red or green bell pepper
2 Scallions
1/2 cup diced bacon
1 TBSP tomato paste

Cook the peas (if using dried)

Fry bacon in medium pot
Add scallions, garlic and peppers and cook for 3-5 minutes
Add salt and pepper, thyme and tomato paste
Add peas
Add rice with 4 cups water
Bring to a boil
Reduce heat and cover till water absorbed and rice is cooked.


John said...

fun fun fun... and those are hot peppers

sadie said...

they are - I used 1/2 and that was still plenty!