Jamaican Jerk Chicken


At a BBC Good Food Show a while ago I picked up a few spice kits including one for Jamaican Jerk Chicken from Spicentice. Now this spice rub suggests you should use it with chicken legs or thighs, but since I had chicken breasts that needed using that’s what I used – it means the meat is a lot less juicy, but still very tasty. A lot of recipes for jerk chicken suggest you serve it with rice and peas, so I went for a version suggested by the BBC (there’s an alternative recipe for jerk chicken here should you want it too).


For the chicken

  • 300g chicken breast, chopped into pieces (or chicken legs and thighs)
  • 1 onion
  • 3 spring onions
  • 1 garlic clove
  • juice and zest of 1 lime
  • Spicentice Jamaican Jerk Chicken spice rub

For the rice

  • 200g basmati rice
  • 400g can coconut milk
  • 1 bunch of spring onions, sliced
  • 2 sprigs of thyme
  • 2 garlic cloves crushed or finely chopped
  • 1 tsp ground allspice
  • 2 x 410g cans kidney beans, drained


  1. Chop the oninon and spring onions and add to a food blender, add the lime zest and juice as well as the spice rub, plus a pinch or salt and pepper. Rub the marinade into the chicken pieces and leave for at least 30 minutes.
  2. Cook the chicken pieces for 20-25 minutes in a 200oc oven, turning the pieces at least once.
  3. For the rice rinse it thorougly and then add to a pan with all the ingredients except the kidney beans. Add around 300ml of water and salt to season. Bring to the boil and cook for 10 minutes.
  4. Add the beans to the rice, cover with a lid and turn off the heat for a further five minutes.

Note: I forgot to take a picture of this one. Next time I make it I will update the page!


Ethiopia – Doro Wat, Mesir Wat and Fasolia

This week I cooked some dishes inspired by Ethiopia. I don’t think I have ever really read about Ethiopian cuisine before, and so this week I ended up learning a lot. There are so many good websites and blogs with recipes for Ethiopian food that I was spoilt for choice. What became clear is that in a lot of recipes it would be very helpful to have a berbere spice mix, an ethiopian spice blend. While you can buy it I decided to try and make my own as I already had the component spices in the house. The recipe I went for was from the Daring Gourmet blog. Don’t be put off by the relatively long list of spices (coriander seeds, cumin seeds, fenugreek seeds, black peppercorns, allspice berries, cardamon pods, cloves, dried chilies, sweet paprika, nutmeg, ginger, cinnamon and tumeric) its a very simple blend to make.

A lot of what I read suggested making a range of dishes to be served on Injera bread, but I didn’t time in the day to get hold of teff flour, so I ended up just focusing on the dishes, and serving everything with pitta bread. Of the many different dishes that looked and sounded delicious I went for three based on the ingredients I already had, with a mix of meat and vegetables: doro wat (a spiced chicken dish), mesir wat (a spiced lentil stew) and fasolia (a spiced vegetable dish).

Ethiopian food

Doro wat (adapted from The Daring Gourmet blog)


  • 3 chicken breasts, cut small pieces
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 5 tbsp butter
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 onions (put in a food processor to until well a chunky puree)
  • 3 cloves garlic finely chopped
  • 1 tbsn grated ginger
  • ¼ cup berbere spice mix (described above)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ½ cup white wine mixed with 1 teaspoon honey
  • 1 cup chicken stock


  1. Put the chicken pieces in a bowl and add the lemon juice over and mix well. Leave to rest for around 1 hour.
  2. Heat 2 tbsp of the butter with the olive oil, and then add the onions and cook for 20 minutes.
  3. Add the garlic, ginger, and 1 tbsp of butter and cover for 10 minutes.
  4. Add the berbere spice mix and the remaining butter and cover. Cook for 15 minutes on a low heat.
  5. Add the chicken, stock, and wine with honey, and bring to a boil. Then reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  6. Check the seasoning, add more salt or spice to taste and then cook for a further 15 minutes uncovered.

Mesir wat (adapted from the Cook’s Hideout blog)


  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 1 cup of red lentils
  • 1 finely chopped onion
  • 1 tsp grated ginger
  • 2 garlic cloves finely chopped
  • 2 green chilies finely chopped
  • 3 tbsp tomato puree
  • 2 tbsp berbere spice
  • 1/2 tsp salt


  1. Heat 1 tbsp oil in a medium sauce pan and add the onion and chilies. Cook  for 3-4 minutes.
  2. Add ginger and garlic and cook for another minute.
  3. Add the tomato puree and berbere spice mix, cook for 2-3 minutes.
  4. Add 3 cups of water and bring the to the boil then simmer for about 15-20 minutes until the lentils are cooked.
  5. Add salt to season at the end.

Fasolia (adapted from the berbere diaries blog)

IngredientsFasolia ethiopian food

  • 2 finely chopped onions, chopped
  • 1/3 c. groundnut (or other flavourless oil)
  • 4 tbsp tomato puree
  • 150g green beans chopped
  • 3 carrots, chopped
  • 1-2 tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 tbsp grated ginger
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • salt, to season


  1. Cook the onions on for five minutes, in a bit of the oil.
  2. Add the rest of the oil and cook for another five minutes.
  3. Add the tomato puree and simmer for 3 minutes.
  4. Add the green beans and carrots, stir and cover.
  5. Cook on medium heat for 10-15 minutes, then add the tomato, ginger, garlic, and salt and simmer.

I may have only recent discovered ethiopian recipes, but I will be sure to try more. I really like the berbere spice mix, which is quite spicy (and if you’re not so happy with spicy food you might want to reduce the amount of spice mix you add), but also smoky and adds so much flavour. I still have a bit left of the batch I made so I’ll probably add that to a soup at some point soon. Another country ticked off for this year.



Philippines: Adobo chicken

Over time, friends have got to know that I like to cook, and in particular that I like to cook things from different places. Last year a friend who is originally from the Philippines kindly brought me ‘The Filipino Cookbook‘. It’s been sitting there on the shelf for too long, and since she was coming to visit I said I would try and make something from the book. So, today’s recipe is a chicken dish which the book suggests is one of the most popular in the Philippines.


  • 1.25kg bone-in chicken breasts, thighs or drumsticks
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 3 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 1 tbsp whole black peppercorns
  • 1 tsp of brown sugar
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 large onion

For the marinade:

  • 180ml white wine vinegar or cider vinegar
  • 60ml water
  • 65ml lime juice
  • 250ml soy sauce


  1. Combine marinade ingredients in a box and mix throughly before adding the chicken and refridgerating over night.
  2. Remove chicken from the marinade.
  3. Heat a skillet or sautee pan and add the oil, and then the garlic until it is lightly browned. Add the chicken and sautee for 10 minutes.
  4. Add the marinade, peppercorns, sugar and bay lead. Cover the pan and bring to the boil, and reduce the eeat and simmer for around 45 minutes or until the meat is tender. Add the onion and simmer for another 5 minutes.

I served this with fried rice. To make the fried rice, which is best cooked in a wok if you have one add 1 tbsp of oil and sautee 3 cloves of garlic, and then add a chopped onion and cook until translucent. Add another tbsp of oil and increase the heat to high and add the rice. Stir fry for about 5 minutes but make sure you stir constantly to stop the rice sticking. Then pour over 3 eggs which have been lightly beaten and then 1 tbsp light soy sauce, 1/2 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp ground black pepper.


The adobo chicken got the seal of approval from my friend, as did the bibingka (a kind of rice coconut cake) which I served for dessert – recipe to follow soon.

Mexico: Pork Pibil

Pork pibil

In 2013 I discovered the restaurant chain Wahaca on a day wandering around London, and this for me was when I started to really explore different types of Mexican food – before then fajitas were more or less about it. I remember the first visit, as we made an effort to order a selection of things which we hadn’t had before – including a cactus taco, pork pibil among other things (photographs below).

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I’ve acquired a couple of the Thomasina Miers cookery books and over the last year or so and I’ve tried a few recipes (tinga de pollo being a favourite). To represent Mexico in my year of cooking different dishes from around the world I’ve chosen to have a go at pork pibil. This seems to be one of Wahaca’s best selling dishes, and you can find the recipe here. Part of the fun of cooking these different dishes is finding out about new ingredients – and for this one, something I’ve never cooked with before is achiote paste.

Annatto seedsAchiote paste is a mixture of crushed achiote seeds (annatto) with  salt, garlic, coriander, cumin, peppercorns, and some orange juice (there are lots of variations of this). It can be bought in paste form too. It’s used as a rub to add colour, and as a seasoning with meats like pork and chicken.



Achiote Annatto Seeds

“Bixa orellana fruit open” by Leonardo Ré-Jorge

You can find it online from various places, including a Mexican store – Mexgrocer. We were planning to travel to Bristol this weekend so I was going to drop by Otomi to pick up a few supplies, including the achiote paste, but we decided to save that for another weekend, and instead went for a wander a bit closer to home in Birmingham. In the end I made my own achiote paste after finding the seeds on a stall in Birmingham bullring market.

The recipe I used for this involved: 2 tbsp annatto  seeds, 1 tsp cumin seeds, 1 tsp black peppercorns, 5 allspice berries, 1 tsp salt, 1 pinch nutmeg, 2 garlic cloves, 125ml orange juice. To make the paste I ground the spices and then mixed them in a small food processor with the garlic and juice. The paste was then used to make the marinade for the pork, as explained in the recipe here.

Red onion slicesAfter marinading overnight this morning the pork was cooked in the oven at a low temperature as per the recipe. I also decided to make the pink pickled onion slices to garnish the pork, and the mexican green rice to serve with it. To make these you just need to finely slice an onion, pour boiling water over them, and remove from the water after ten seconds. Then in a bowl place the onions, a chopped chilli (habanero if you have it), juice of 1 lime and 1 orange, season with salt and black pepper, mix together and leave it in the fridge for a couple of hours. This makes a large amount which is more than enough for a six people.

Green rice pasteFor the mexican green rice you first need to rinse around 200g rice (I used basmati) and then cook it for around 10 minutes in 400ml of vegetable stock. Meanwhile, I blended an onion, a handful of fresh coriander leaves, and a handful of parsley leaves, a garlic clove and a green chilli (again habanero if you have it) in a small food processor to get a sort of green paste. When the rice was about ready I heated some oil in an ovenproof pan and then added the green paste to cook for around 5 minutes. Then I added the rice and any remaining liquid and mixed together. Then along with the other casserole dish I placed the pan in the oven for just under half an hour. This was enough to serve around 4 people.

The final result: rice, pork, pink pickled onions and some coriander leaves to garnish. The results went down well at lunch time.

Pork pibil recipe

For my culinary journey of 2016, Mexico now has it’s first flag.

Mexico map flag

China: Black bean chicken

China: Black Bean Chicken

China Black Bean ChickenFor the first post in my 2016 challenge the theme is black beans, salted fermented black beans to be precise. This post is actually really three recipes, although one I have made before, so technically I’m not learning all new recipes here. Anyway, today’s post includes how we got on with black bean chicken, black bean green beans and chilli sweetcorn.

The key ingredient here that we were attempting to understand a bit more about how to use was fermented black beans, used as flavouring in a lot of Chinese cuisine. These beans have been used in China for centuries, with some of the oldest evidence for using fermented soy beans dating back to 165 BC in a Han Tomb at Mawangdui in South Central China (excavated in 1972). The small black beans are usually poached and fermented in salt, with just a small amount used in dishes for seasoning, often alongside garlic and chillis.

The first recipe for the main part of the meal is black bean chicken, inspired by the recipe from Fuchsia Dunlop in Every Grain of Rice. A simple recipe, which like many in her book, uses meat but works on the principle that a small amount goes a long way. Cooked in a wok it doesn’t take long to make at all.

Black bean chicken and rice


For marinade:

  • 1 tbsp Shaoxing rice wingChina Black Bean Chicken
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 1 1/2tsp potato flour
  • 1 tsp light soy sauce
  • 1 tsp dark soy sauce.

Main dish:

  • 225g chicken cut into 2-3cm pieces
  • 1 green pepper cut into 2-3cm squares
  • 3 tbsp groundnut oil (or other flavourless cooking oil)
  • 3 garlic cloves, peeled and sliced
  • Equivalent amount of ginger, peeled and sliced
  • 2 tbsp fermented black beans
  • 1-2 tsp red chilli flakes (depending on taste)
  • Salt for seasoning
  • 2 tbsp spring onions, finely sliced
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  1. Put marinade ingredients into a bowl and add chicken pieces.
  2. Heat 1 tbsp oil in a wok, then add the peppers for around 1 minute. Remove and set aside.
  3. Reheat wok, add the remainder of the oil, and then the marinated chicken and cook until the chicken is more or less cooked.
  4. Then add garlic and ginger and cook for about 30 seconds.
  5. Add black beans and stir a few times.
  6. Return peppers to pan and add chilli flakes.
  7. Stir fry until chicken is cooked through.
  8. Season with salt to taste. Then stir in spring onions.
  9. Turn off the heat, and add sesame oil.

China Black Bean ChickenOverall this recipe doesn’t take very long to make, like a lot of wok based stir fry dishes. For these dishes it’s important to have the ingredients you need prepared as needed so you can add them to the wok, often in quick succession (and in doing so ensuring things don’t get burnt).

The recipe suggested serving this with rice and a couple of side dishes so we also opted to make two other dishes, along with some boiled rice.

Black green beans

This recipe was adapted from a recipe in a blog post from Katie Webster and her food blog Healthy Seasonal recipes, omitting the suggested mushrooms and adjusting the ingredient proportions.

China Black Bean ChickenIngredients:

  • 150g green beans
  • 1 tsp groundnut oil
  • 1 clove garlic
  • ½ tsp red chilli flakes
  • 1 tablespoon of black beans
  • Pinch ground white pepper
  • Pinch salt
  • 1 tbsp Shaoxing rice wine
  1. Boil green beans for around 3-4 minutes (or steam them if you prefer).
  2. In a separate frying pan, heat the oil and add the garlic, chilli flakes for around 2 minutes.
  3. Add black beans, pepper and salt.
  4. Add the green beans and Shaoxing rice wine until the beans are heated through.

Chilli sweetcorn

The final recipe was adapted from the Exploring China book by Ken Hom and Ching-He Huang.


  • 275g sweetcorn (fresh or frozen)China Black Bean Chicken
  • 1 ½ tbs groundnut oil
  • Salt and white pepper
  • 2 red chillis, finely chopped and deseeded if preferred
  • 50 ml vegetable stock
  1. Cover sweetcorn in boiling water for around 1 minute.
  2. Heat a wok or frying pan and add the oil salt, corn and chillis and stir fry for one minute.
  3. Add the pepper, sugar and stock and cook for a further 3 minutes. (The original recipe used a tsp of sugar here but I have omitted as I find it sweet enough, but you might want to try it sometime anyway).

China Black Bean Chicken

When looking into which black bean dishes to cook this week I also came across a couple of other, and somewhat similar dishes I came across that look good too include:

So, that’s the first week in my 2016 project to cook foods from around the world. Three dishes (plus boiled rice) taking inspiration from China.  So that’s China ticked off the list of countries tried this year, and my first flag on the map.