Curry duck is an incredibly popular dish in Trinidad and Tobago and the wider Caribbean. It is made with Muscovy duck pieces, fresh Caribbean green seasoning, curry powder and veggies and is served alongside roti or rice.
Trinis love to gather at the river or beach and the number one dish cooked on a makeshift fireside is… you guessed it… curry duck! With added pepper, it is served as “cutters” (finger food) alongside rum, beer and other alcoholic drinks. These gatherings, called ‘river limes’ or ‘beach limes’, are a big part of local culture and curry duck sits in the centre.
It’s a delicious, finger licking treat.
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Muscovy Duck Prep
Usually, the local poultry shop handles defeathering and roasting of the ducks. You can also ask them to cut up everything for you. But the pieces may not be perfectly cleaned so you may need to remove any feathers, fat, and other odd bits still on the meat. Skin is usually left on though, since it adds more flavor to the dish.
Wash with flour and lime juice to remove any sliminess and ‘fresh’ smell from the meat. Season with salt, Caribbean green seasoning, and pepper. You can also add in cumin powder, turmeric powder, and whatever other flavorings you prefer.
The prep is similar to what I describe in the How to Season Chicken – Caribbean Style post.
You can let the duck marinate in the fridge anywhere from two hours to overnight. I usually add the prepped, seasoned duck to the freezer and defrost right before I’m ready to cook it.
Curry Duck Ingredients
The ingredients are based on your preferences, but this is what I usually use:
- Madras curry powder (which contains coriander, turmeric, cumin, fenugreek, fennel, mustard seeds, chilies, and aniseed – get on Amazon)
- prepped duck pieces (with Caribbean green seasoning, salt, pepper, and other spices)
- fresh cilantro
- fresh chives
Add to this whatever other flavorings you love that’ll compliment the curry. Check out Cedella Marley-Booker’s scotch bonnet pepper sauce. It’s fiery and delicious!
Or try these classics:
How to Make Trini-Style Curry Duck
So, you may find some debate on how to cook curry duck.
Some add the curry powder to the meat.
Some make a curry paste and cook this first before adding the meat.
Others fry the curry powder before adding water and then eventually the meat.
Deciding on the method to use is a tough one. Here’s what I do.
Place a heavy-bottomed pot on medium heat. Add oil (I use coconut oil) to the pot.
Once hot, sauté onions and peppers. You can use any of your favorite peppers – pimento, chilis or scotch bonnet.
Stir in grated garlic and ginger.
After a minute or so, mix in the curry powder. Fry the powder for two to three minutes, stirring constantly.
Add 1/4 cup of water to form a thick curry paste. Continue stirring to allow the curry to cook properly. This is incredibly important. If the curry does not cook sufficiently, it will negatively affect your digestive system.
You don’t want that.
As the water boils off and the paste forms clumps, add the seasoned duck pieces.
Mix the duck well to coat the pieces with the curry. Add salt.
Cover the pot.
The heat and salt will cause the duck to expel water. You want the meat to cook in this liquid for some time. The exact time will vary based on the meat itself. Sometimes, it’ll cook faster… other times, not so much.
This initial cook time could average about 30 minutes.
When there is a little liquid left in the pot, remove the cover and stir until all the liquid boils off. This could take another 10 minutes (on average).
Continue stirring and cooking on high heat for a couple minutes as the meat begins to stick to the bottom of the pot. Excuse the photo, there was a lot of steam.
You really want that curry cooked!
Sometimes, I add in a little cumin powder at this point too.
Now, add 3 – 4 cups of water to the pot. 1/4 cup of coconut milk can also be added here too; but the milk will tone down the curry flavor. I just added water here.
Cover and cook the meat until tender. This may take another 40 minutes… Again, that’s an average… It’ll depend on the meat itself.
Add in fresh chives and cilantro. You can also add a whole scotch bonnet pepper. Uncover and allow to cook if you want a thicker gravy.
Remove the scotch bonnet pepper and serve the duck as cutters or with paratha roti. Or with Trinidad dhal and rice (and a salad!). Yum!
Trini-style Curry Duck Recipe
Trini-style Curry Duck Recipe
- 3 – 4 lbs Muscovy duck (cleaned, cut up)
- 3 tbsp green seasoning
- fresh pepper to taste (like scotch bonnet, chilis, etc)
- 2 tbsp oil (I use coconut oil)
- 1 onion (chopped)
- 3 cloves garlic (grated)
- 1 tbsp ginger (grated)
- 2 – 3 tbsp Madras curry powder
- 4¼ cups water
- 2 tbsp cilantro
- 2 tbsp chives chopped
- salt to taste
- pepper to taste
- Clean roasted duck pieces. Remove fat, feathers, and odd bits.
- Leave skin on where possible.
- Wash with flour and lime juice to remove sliminess and fresh smell.
- Season with Caribbean green seasoning, fresh pepper and salt.
- Allow to marinate for 2 hours to overnight.
- Place a heavy-bottomed pot on medium heat.
- Add oil (I use coconut oil) to the pot.
- Once hot, sauté onions and peppers.
- Stir in grated garlic and ginger.
- After a minute, mix in the curry powder.
- Fry the powder for two to three minutes, stirring constantly.
- Add 1/4 cup of water to form a thick curry paste.
- Continue stirring to allow the curry to cook properly.
- As the water boils off and the paste forms clumps, add the seasoned duck pieces.
- Mix the duck well to coat the pieces with curry.
- Add salt.
- Cover the pot and allow meat to expel liquid for 20 to 30 minutes.
- Remove cover and allow the liquid to boil off (can take 10 minutes).
- Constantly stir to meat on high heat for a couple minutes as the meat begins to stick to the bottom of the pot.
- Add 3 – 4 cups of water to the pot.
- Cover and cook until the duck is tender (can take 40 minutes).
- Mix in fresh cilantro and chives.
- Uncover and cook to the desired thickness of gravy.
- Serve hot.