Chicken Colombo (French West Indies)

Photo by Con Poulos

Despite Parisian touches on the gorgeous islands of Guadeloupe, Martinique, St. Martin and St. Barths, the cuisine here skews more Amerindian, African and South Asian. Colombo can be made with meat, fish or chicken. While you can sometimes find ­“Colombo powder” in Caribbean markets stateside, any curry powder works well when combined with the other ingredients.

Caribbean Flavors
  • 1 tablespoon rice flour
  • 3 tablespoons curry powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground allspice
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 2 teaspoons salt, plus additional to taste
  • 3 pounds bone-in chicken pieces, skin removed, larger pieces cut in half
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 red or white onion, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 3 tablespoons lime juice
  • 1 (14-ounce) can coconut milk
  • 1 medium potato, cut into 1-inch dice
  • 1 cup 1-inch-diced eggplant
  • 1 medium zucchini or chayote, cut into 1-inch dice

Combine rice flour, curry, allspice, cayenne pepper and salt. Rub half of mixture over chicken. Refrigerate at least 8 hours.

When ready to cook, heat 2 tablespoons oil in deep sauté pan or wide stockpot over medium-high heat. Brown chicken in single layers, working in batches, if necessary.

Remove chicken, and add onion and garlic. Stir occasionally until tender, about 8 minutes.

Add chicken stock and bring to boil, scraping up brown bits from pan bottom. Stir in remaining spice mixture, lime juice and coconut milk.

Bring to boil, then reduce heat to low. Add chicken and vegetables, cover pan and cook 45 minutes, turning chicken pieces every 15 minutes. Remove chicken when cooked through.

If sauce isn’t thick enough, boil until it becomes consistency of thick cream (sauce should just coat chicken and vegetables). Add salt to taste. Return chicken to pan.

Pass rice alongside. Serves 4.

Pair It

Elvio Cogno 2013 Bricco dei Merli (Barbera d’Alba). Don’t be afraid of pairing red wines with mellow meat curries. This easy-drinking wine opens with scents of ripe, dark-skinned fruit and exotic spices that echo those in the dish. The vibrant, savory palate doles out juicy fruit, ground pepper and anise, set in a framework of racy acidity and softly polished tannins.

Published on September 26, 2016
About the Author
Nils Bernstein
Contributing Editor, Food

A fan of sweet wines, sour beers, and old-school Rioja, Bernstein is an exhaustive traveler in search of new and unsung chefs and restaurants, innovative wine and food pairings, and eating and drinking at the source. In addition to Wine Enthusiast, Bernstein has written for Bon Appetit, Men’s Journal, New York Times, Men’s Fitness, Hemispheres, and Kinfolk, among others.


The latest wine reviews, trends and recipes plus special offers on wine storage and accessories