Curry goat is a popular Caribbean dish that combines the exotic spices of curry with the rich taste of goat meat. The combination produces a dish enjoyed on many of the Caribbean islands, where the cuisines of India and Africa have melded into dishes with spicy flavor and satisfying, hearty textures.
Goats are hardy creatures that have a natural instinct for browsing and exploration. This keeps them active and produces a lean red meat. Though domesticated, the flavor of goat meat is richer and somewhat gamey when compared to the meat of beef cattle. This makes the lean cuts very adaptable for stewing, barbecues and curries.
Curries are common throughout Asia. The flavor profile for curry depends on the region, with different areas of the world using distinct combinations of spices and different levels of heat. The curries mostly commonly found in the Caribbean have their roots in Indian cuisine. Within the island chain that forms the Caribbean, the degree of influence that the cooking traditions of the Indian subcontinent has on local cuisine varies widely. The spices used in curry goat also have been adapted to local availability.
Caribbean curry goat uses curry powders made from local spices that grow in the islands or are readily available. Almost without fail, two spices that regularly appear in commercial and homemade curry powder are turmeric and cumin. Indian-inspired curry goat also includes coriander, caraway seeds, fennel and, sometimes, the sweetness of cloves and ginger. Some commercial curry powder manufacturers produce a separate curry spice mix for meats such as goat and duck to complement the richness of the meat.
Cooks in the Caribbean often rely on retail curry powder mixes to make curry goat, in large part because it's easier than grinding each spice. Goat meat is widely available throughout the Caribbean. Land use laws make it easy to keep goats in both urban and rural areas, providing cooks with fresh goat meat from backyard stock.
Caribbean cooks often add the popular Scotch bonnet pepper to curry goat to intensify the heat. Pre-seasoning or marinating the goat meat before making the dish is a tradition in places such as Jamaica, where curry goat preparation also might include thyme, onions, ginger, fresh tomatoes or tomato sauce. The addition of coconut milk is common when preparing curry goat in the Caribbean. In addition to providing an added layer of flavor, coconut milk helps to tenderize the goat meat while it cooks.