ricky’s curried goat

>Try this for a good curried goat – thanks Ricky for the seasoning advice!

Ingredients for seasoning
3 kinds of chilli peppers (or whatever your taste is) – Ricky used scotch bonnets, bullet and home grown killer peppers
3 cloves garlic
1 medium onion
4 spring onions
1″ ginger root
thyme
coriander
whole black peppers
2 tbsp curry powder
west indian season-all powder
A little water

Method
Blend together and marinate the meat overnight. Best to use fresh goat on the bone, but if youare unadventurous or goat is unavailable, some cubed lamb works well too.

Dice one potato, and a carrot or two if you wish, and add to the mix. Add a little water and cook very slowly for as many hours as you can manage.

Serve with rice and black-eyed/pigeon/gunga peas.

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sassy’s jamaican kitchen

>376 St Georges Road, Fitzroy North
www.sassyskitchen.com.au

A pre-birthday dinner on a Saturday night, and a (relatively) new Caribbean restaurant to try out. We head out to Sassy’s Jamaican Kitchen in Fitzroy.

The reviews online are consistent and favourable: be prepared to wait, but the food is fantastic. We arrive not long after eight to a less-than-half-full restaurant: maybe eight or nine other diners scattered around a spacious room, sparsely decorated with Jamaica posters and yukka plants, and with a gentle reggae vibe in the background.

Our waiter – the only waiter – offers us chilled water and promises to return with glasses for our bottle of Chandon. In the end, we pour our bubbly into our water glasses. The menu is sparse but enticing. Apart from a few vegetarian starters and mains, there is a choice of fish or chicken, both jerked. Curried goat is on special. In order to try everything, we choose jerk chicken to share as a starter, then one jerk fish and one curried goat.

An hour passes. Happily, I am in good company, and the conversation flows. Most of the other diners leave. Others arrive and leave with takeaway boxes of food, which is fascinating as we have not heard a phone ring once. Sassy himself comes out and starts to clear tables. I wonder why he is not cooking our food, or perhaps whether our order has been lost.

Finally, after almost an hour and a half, our starter arrives. Two pieces of barbecued jerk chicken, a generous dollop of yellow vegetable curry and an upside-down bowl of rice and peas, with a couple of piping-hot sideplates to eat from. To be honest, it is not the best start. The chicken is not heavily seasoned at all, not with chilli, not with anything much. It has either been well over-cooked, or cooked earlier and carelessly re-heated. The vegetable curry is actually quite tasty, and without it the rest of the dish would have been far too dry.

Moments after taking our plates away, the main courses arrive. The same upside-down bowl of rice and peas accompany each dish. The curried goat is not off the bone as confirmed, but it is pretty delicious. Not at all spicy-hot, but very well seasoned and very slowly cooked. Pity there is not more of it. The two smallish pieces of jerk fish are delicious too, one more spicy than the other to my taste. Again, without the vegetable curry this dish would have been far too dry, but overall it was enjoyable.

The rice and peas are a disappointment. The rice is far too dry, and the peas are kidney beans. Would have been good to see proper gunga or pigeon or even azuki peas used. And despite the diners being in single digits all night, we still have to list for our waiter what we’d eaten so he could make up our bill. He tells us this is his third night working here, and it’s the busiest night so far.

Nonetheless, it was a pleasant evening. Not sure that I would hold Sassy’s up as a perfect example of good Caribbean food: it needs a bit more chilli heat and a bit more care in both food preparation and service to get better marks. Maybe even a bottle of pepper sauce on each table so customers can adjust the heat of their food to taste.

That said, I get the best Caribbean food at home all the time so I know I am fortunate.

Will it be a regular haunt? Not sure if we would ever hop in the car and take a twenty-minute drive across town for any of the dishes we ate. But at $46 for two (not including $5 corkage which we think they just forgot) it wasn’t a bad night’s value.

Sassy's Jamaican Kitchen on Urbanspoon

Labour Weekend Foodie Style – Sunday

Labour Day Sunday was time for brunch in Babble On Babylon, the venue for the boys’ cycling lunch most Sundays. Marty runs the only West Indian cafe in town, and his Jamaican breakfasts, stamp’n’gosalad and curried goat are excellent.

We crammed into the back room while the kids played in alley. Nina’s rice and peas and chicken looked excellent – well-seasoned and well-cooked chicken which Orlando manfully helped her polish off.
My Jamaican breakfast was just perfect: chilli eggs on toasted sourdough, plaintain, ackee and saltfish, with a side of roasted tomatoes. I never have the johnny cakes because I find them too heavy.

Eric’s big bowl of curried goat (no bones, plenty of spice) went down a treat too.

bajan sweet bread

>This is a lovely cake/bread from Barbados.

Ingredients

125g butter
1/2 teasp coconut essence
1 cup caster sugar
2 eggs
1/2 cup coconut
1 1/2 cups self-raising flour
300g sour cream
1/3 cup milk

Method

Grease a deep 23cm round cake tin.
Cream butter, essence, and sugar in a small bowl until light and fluffy.
Beat in eggs one at a time until combined.
Transfer to large bowl.
Stir in half the coconut and sifted flour with half the sour cream and milk.
Then stir in remaining ingredients. Stir until smooth.
Pour into cake tin.
Bake in moderate oven for 1 hour.
Stand five minutes before turning onto wire rack.

making patties

>We set up a pattie-making factory one hot afternoon, Eric, Orlando and I. We had been hankering for a proper West Indian pattie for a while and Eric was the resident expert. We would have liked saltfish patties but the salted cod here takes far too long to prepare – a full weekend for one side of salted cod. So we went with beef instead.

First, Orlando set about cooking the beef filling. He browned a large chopped onion, then added 800g of heart-smart minced beef, four large chillies (two red and two green) finely chopped, a decent dollop of old-fashioned curry powder and some Indian meat masala. When the meat was brown he added four medium potatoes which had been cooked, cooled and diced beforehand.

About a cup of beef stock was added to make the mixture moist, then about the same again of breadcrumbs to make sure the mixture bound enough for us to fill the patties.

Actually, we didn’t have breadcrumbs so we used cornflake crumbs instead – which I think worked better.
Meanwhile I coloured the pastry by painting it with turmeric, then rolled out the sheets and cut out large circular shapes using a breakfast bowl. I kept all the offcuts and Orlando insisted he would not waste a bit. He persevered, and from the scraps of five pastry sheets he got an extra size cutouts plus one tiny piece we made into a party pie. Then the factory line began.
Orlando placed a dessertspoonful of the beef mixture onto the pastry round. I wet the edge with water, folded it over and used a fork to seal the edges into a half moon shape.
Then once we had a full tray ready, Orlando brushed the top of with a beaten egg to glaze them. Not too many in a tray – we didn’t want to crowd them. Then into the oven at 200C for about half an hour.
The results were splendid: 26 perfectly golden, sturdily made patties with a rich beef filling with just enough bite to them. We ate two each on the spot (just to make sure they were ok).
Now we know how long it takes, and we have had a bit of practice, there is no stopping us. Two hours in the kitchen makes over two dozen patties. Only problem is, they take less time than that to polish them all off…

>Yeah Maan

>There is only one Caribbean restaurant in Melbourne (well there is a cafe called Babble On Babylon but it is only open in the daytime). It happens to be that our local bus takes us straight there, through the city centre and out the other side, right to the nearest corner. Some friends had warned us that the food was good but the portions were tiny, but we needed to see for ourselves.

And so it was that we took five mates along there one Saturday night to see if it was anything worth talking about.


Yeah Maan is a tiny terraced building, converted from a house, with enough seating for about forty downstairs and another small dining room upstairs. Instead of the expected reggae blasting out, we were delighted to hear some classic soca tunes. We had a reservation but they didn’t seem to know anything about that. We were shown to the upstairs room, and although we had explained that it was a reservation for seven people, we were asked to sit at a smaller table until we insisted we needed more room.

Once everybody had arrived we were pretty desperate for a drink – or at least some glasses for our BYO wine. In the end Orlando obliged by going downstairs himself. We thought that might shake up the waitresses, but we waited quite a long time for anybody to come and see if we were OK. It was the girl’s first night so she didn’t know much, but she was sweet.

Apart from myself and Orlando, we had three people who had only eaten Caribbean food in our house (Mena, Eileen and Kelvin), and two people who had no idea what they were in for (Australian Ida and Italian Viviana). The Trinidadian doubles served up were generous and talked about for days; Mena’s Stamp ‘n’ Go was a huge portion and absolutely divine. Orlando and I both had the Pick Up Salt Fish, which was saltfish mixed with onions, tomato and peppers served on a dumpling. It reminded both of us how much we love saltfish, and I promised to go get some and start cooking it again. Pity we can’t get ackee anywhere though…

The chilly janga roti (chilli prawns) were not too hot and spicy, which was probably just as well for the virgins. You could probably ask for them to be made a bit hotter. Kelvin chose the aloo pies, a huge portion of spicy potato balls which were tasty enough but nothing exciting.

The mains were even better. Eileen was served an enormous portion of jerk chicken and cassava fries, which she struggled manfully to consume, but ended up pleading with everybody to finish for her. She said it was lovely, but not as nice as Orlando’s (well, you can’t get Walkerswood here either).

The curried goat was really lovely, but I forgot to ask for mine to be made hot, so although it was tasty there was no kick to it. Orlando had asked for his hot, but it wasn’t much better than mine. The rice and peas were made with small kidney beans (guess what? No gunga peas in Aus…) but it worked fine. Mena scored again with the ginger tamarind chicken which was beautifully seasoned, a good strong kick. The calypso chicken looked good, but even for the virgins it seemed very mildly-flavoured.

The service didn’t get any better. We helped ourselves to more napkins, water and fresh glasses from behind our personal minibar in the corner, and raided the other tables for new candles for the table. Even when we wanted the bill, it warranted another trip downstairs. Maybe if we had been seated down with everybody else it might have been better.

Nonetheless, we were not in any hurry and the relaxed vibe certainly didn’t ruin the evening. We put the world to rights without fear of annoying other diners with our noise, we finished a few bottles of wine and enjoyed some fine West Indian food. The rumours of small portions were well and truly scotched, and we will definitely come back again for more.