I first saw this dish on a menu on the island of Dominica, home to the most centenarians on the planet, and was eager to try it. The flavors are fantastic, serving it in a carved-out pineapple shell really added flavor, not to mention, a lovely presentation. For protein, you can use chicken, fish, or tofu, whichever meets your needs, if using fresh fish, try snapper or cod.
Chayote (also called christophene or cho-cho in the Caribbean) is rich in fiber, vitamin C, and minerals, and is likely the most commonly used vegetable in the Caribbean; if you are unable to find chayote, I suggest using a cup of cauliflower florets or cubed sweet potato.
You will notice that a whole pineapple is double the amount of fruit needed for this recipe, so plan to use the rest for dessert, breakfast, or for a Caribbean Pina Colada—recipe to follow. You could make this without fresh pineapple using pineapple chunks, but using fresh pineapple provides a beautiful presentation and extra flavor.
Prep Time: 40 Minutes
2 tablespoons avocado oil
12 ounces chicken breast, cut into bite-sized pieces
½ teaspoon sea salt
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
1 medium onion, chopped
2 medium carrots, chopped
1 medium chayote, peeled, inner seed removed, and cubed
2 tablespoons curry powder (or 2 tablespoons of your own spice mixture)
1 large green bell pepper, seeds and membrane removed, chopped
2 medium tomatoes, chopped
8 ounces coconut milk
1 medium-small pineapple, top removed, sliced in half lengthwise. With a paring knife, remove and discard fibrous center core, then carve out the pineapple in small pieces until the shell has been excavated. (gently scraping out pineapple and juice at the end with a spoon). Be careful not to puncture the shell, as then it will leak when the curry is added.
2 tablespoons fresh mint and cilantro, chopped
4 tablespoons dry-roasted peanuts
Prep the pineapple as mentioned above and reserve 1 ½ cups of the fruit chunks, set aside. Keep remaining pineapple for another use.
Heat a large sauté pan with a lid to medium-high heat, add avocado oil, then chicken, salt, and black pepper, and with an occasional stir, heat until chicken is lightly browned.
Remove the chicken from the sauté pan and set aside. Add onion to the sauté pan and heat with an occasional stir for 2 minutes. Add carrot, chayote, and curry powder, stir, and heat about 3-4 minutes. Add bell pepper, tomato, and heat another two minutes with occasional stirring.
Add coconut milk, cooked chicken, and pineapple chunks to the sauté pan with vegetables and simmer for 5-10 minutes.
To serve, place carved out pineapple halves on a serving platter or individual plates and fill with curry mixture. Garnish with herbs and peanuts. There should be enough curry to refill each shell and have second helpings or refrigerate and enjoy the following day.
Steven Masley, MD
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