Our cookery writer, Adam Bush, tells us about the inspiration behind his Trini goat curry…
“Trinidad is very much off the beaten tourist track, at the bottom of the Caribbean archipelago, but with that comes its appeal (read our guide to Trinidad and Tobago here). Tourists flock to the clear waters and white sand of Tobago, Trinidad’s sister island, but often overlook the more industrial Trinidad. It’s raw and unfiltered, and lacks the polished sheen of more touristy Caribbean islands. It was this industry that drew my dad there to work, which meant I was lucky enough to visit him and explore this amazing island. This is the real Caribbean – it’s loud and busy but unbelievably charming. This is echoed in the food, which is no nonsense, full flavoured and vibrant.
What makes Trinidadian cookery so unique is the large Indian community that emigrated there in the 19th century. The British offered low-paid manual-labour jobs in Trinidad, and an estimated 150,000 Indians made the journey to the island. With them came their food culture, and this eventually merged with local cuisines. The use of curry powder in goat curry is a clear example of this culinary influence. South Asian spicing is common in Trinidadian food – take the street food staple doubles, which is curried chickpeas sandwiched between two baras – deep-fried breads – served with tamarind or mango chutney and doused in hot pepper sauce.
Goat curry is usually served with buss up shot – a flaky, buttery flatbread that is beaten with two sticks to release the steam inside. Similar to Indian paratha, it’s great for mopping up sauces. It gets its name as, once beaten with the sticks, it resembles rags due to the flaky, layered way it is rolled – ‘bust up shirt’ is the way you should read it, but no Trini would understand if you said it like that!
For me this dish is everything I like in Caribbean food. A humble meat like goat is transformed through slow and gentle cooking into something tender and delicious. The curry powder and cinnamon give depth through gentle spicing, and the ‘green seasoning’ of spring onion, scotch bonnet and coriander changes this curry from Asian to West Indian, bringing zing, vibrancy and fruity fire from the chillies.
If I was to have a final meal, this could well be it. Get plenty of roti or paratha to soak up that delicious sauce, serve with extra hot sauce if you dare, and a rum and coke.”