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4 Authentic Jamaican Christmas Dinner Ideas

curried goat
Photo: Jamaican Curried Goat

by Kadian Clarke, Associate Writer

Like most places in the world, Christmas in Jamaica is a very special time of the year.

And the best part of Christmas here is... The Food!
Great food is at the core of every Jamaican Christmas celebration.

Here are four (4) of my favorite traditional Jamaican Christmas dinner ideas. Hope you enjoy!

  1. Curried Goat (Recipe Here)

    A traditional favourite, curried goat is traditionally served with rice and peas; that's red kidney beans or gungo peas - also known as pigeon peas.

    Key Preparation Tips:

    • Wash meat properly in vinegar and season well with the necessary ingredients.

    • Place it in the refrigerator for an hour - at minimum, or better overnight for extra marinade.This allows for the meat to absorb all the flavours.

    • In a saucepan, heat the oil on high. Add 1 oz. curry powder to the hot oil. Stir curry powder in oil until the color starts to change; be careful not to let it burn too much.

    • Add meat then stir it in the hot oil for two minutes; Add 1 oz. water to the pot, keep stirring until the meat looks like the muscles are tightening up.

    • Lower heat to medium and add 2 cups of water and let this stew simmer for 20 minutes. Check on the meat in the pot, stir again and add water to cover the meat.

    • Simmer for another 20 minutes, then check to see if the meat is medium soft.

    • If it is, add the seasonings you removed earlier to the pot. Let the stew simmer for another 15 minutes on a slightly lower heat.

    • (Optional) You can add potatoes to the pot the same time you add the seasoning. You can also add bread crumbs to thicken.

    • You should make this stew cook until most of the water is evaporated, and let the fat from the goat flavor the stew.

  2. Brown Stew Chicken (Recipe here)

    This is a big favourite for Jamaicans at Christmas time. Authentic Jamaican spices and herbs along with browning caramel gives it its own unique taste. You can expect almost every home to have this meat as an option.

    Key Preparation Tips

    • Wash chicken with lemon juice and drain well.
      Combine all seasonings and spices; (tomato, scallion, onion, garlic, pepper, thyme, pimento), add mushroom soy sauce and browning in a large bowl and then mix in the chicken pieces. Cover and marinate for an hour. Heat coconut oil in a Dutch pot or large saucepan.

    • Shake off the excess seasonings as you remove each piece of chicken from the marinade. Reserve the marinade for sauce.

    • Lightly brown the chicken a few pieces at a time in very hot oil. Place browned chicken pieces on a plate while you brown the remaining pieces.

    • Drain off excess oil and return the chicken to the pan. Pour the marinade over the chicken and add the carrots.

    • Stir and cook over medium heat for 10 minutes.

    • Mix flour and coconut milk and add to stew, stirring constantly.

    • Reduce heat and cook for another 20 minutes or until tender. Like the curried goat, it is often traditionally served with rice and red kidney beans, or gungo peas.

  3. Curried Chicken (Recipe Here)

    If you are looking for a flavourful recipe with a touch of vibrant yellow colour, this is it!

    Key Preparation Tips:

    • Cut chicken into small pieces and wash with lemon juice.

    • Season chicken with salt, black pepper, curry powder and chopped garlic and let it marinate.

    • Brown (fry) about 1 tsp. curry powder, onions, tomatoes, thyme and pepper in oil.

    • Add chicken and brown (fry) for five minutes.

    • Lastly, add water, lower heat, cover and simmer for 30 minutes.

    This is best served with white rice.

  4. Glazed Baked Ham

    jamaican christmas dinner ideas- baked glazed ham

    Considered a delicacy, the origin of baked ham topped with pineapple slices and cherries goes all the way back to colonial times and was introduced to us by the British.

    Key Preparation Tips:

    • Remove wrapping from ham. Score fat in a diamond pattern and stud with cloves.

    • Bake ham in a 325 F oven for 2 hours or until a meat thermometer registers 130F.

    • In a saucepan, stir together cranberry sauce or jam, orange juice, lemon juice (brown sugar if using cranberry sauce) and mustard. Simmer glaze uncovered for 5 minutes to thicken.

    • During the last 30 minutes of baking the ham, glaze by spooning glaze sauce it over every 10 minutes.

    • Any remaining sauce can be served on the side.

To complete your meals and make them even more attractive, add the traditional Jamaican Macaroni or Pasta Salad, or simply add vegetable sides of your choice.

Don't Forget...

Remember its Christmas! And so no Jamaican dinner will go without sorrel, the rich and flavorful Jamaican Christmas drink.

And for dessert... the delectable Jamaican fruit cake!

Note also that manish water, aka goat belly soup is even more popular at this time of the year.

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