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soul food; Feed body and spirit with Mr G's soul food. George Ikamba shows Jenny Longhurst how Caribbean cooking hits the hot spot.

Byline: Jenny Longhurst

* OUL food is all about homely dishes cooked from the heart and it's typical of Caribbean style cuisine according to George Ikamba. It's also the kind of food he's serving in Mr G's Soul Kitchen in Bute Street, Cardiff Bay.

George, his brother David and their good friend Alan Johnson or Cakes as he's known because, George reveals, of his childhood passion for eating them, are all in it together, enlivening the taste buds with a string of sunny West Indian specials.

"We've all grown up here but with Caribbean food and we've been thinking about opening a restaurant to share our love of it for about six years," said George.

"I like to think of it as grandmother's style food that makes you feel good."

The jerk chicken here is one of the most popular choices with diners but as George explains: "there are lots of varieties of jerk sauce.

"The things that are essential in every jerk marinade are scotch bonnet chilli, cinnamon and nutmeg but apart from that people have their own recipes.

"You can buy jerk sauce but I'd prefer a home-made one like this one."

This sweet spicy sauce he added, also goes well with fish such as snapper.

Goat and mutton are also typical of the Caribbean dishes served in the Soul Kitchen as is ackee with salt fish.

"Ackee is a fruit from Jamaica," said George.

"It's very traditional. It's a little bit bitter but goes well with other foods like fish."

George, a former teaching assistant, has always loved watching cookery programmes and all three of the chefs have a passion for producing tasty comfort food like these Afro burgers and spicy fish bites guaranteed to satisfy both body and soul.

Jerk chicken Serves four Ingredients * Four whole chicken legs (leg and thigh together) with skin on for the best flavour * Six spring onions chopped * Two to three sprigs thyme, chopped * Two to three sprigs coriander, chopped * One scotch bonnet chilli, finely chopped (remove seeds for a less fiery taste) * One tomato, chopped * One small onion, chopped * Four cloves garlic, finely chopped * Two teaspoons powdered cinnamon * One tablespoon powdered nutmeg * One teaspoon sea salt * One teaspoon black pepper * One teaspoon powdered pimento * Four tablespoons honey * Two tablespoon dark rum * Two whole limes * Half a glass orange juice * Four tablespoons olive oil Method Wash and clean chicken thoroughly. Half peel back the skin and make two or three slits in the flesh. Mix together all remaining ingredients except limes in a blender if available. Squeeze lime juice into the mix then throw in the peels. Mix everything together and massage well into the chicken. Cover and refrigerate for at least two but preferably up to 24 hours. To cook place chicken on a tray big enough to hold the juice from the marinade as well then put on the top shelf of a pre-heated oven gas mark four, 350F, 180C for one hour. Turn chicken over and place on the middle shelf for a further hour. Make sure chicken is thoroughly cooked through and serve with rice and peas or plantain. Add some coleslaw to take away some of the heat.

Cake's Serves four Ingredients * 500g (1lb) minced beef or lamb * Five sprigs each of coriander and parsley, finely chopped * Two spring onions, finely chopped * Four cloves garlic, finely chopped * One scotch bonnet, chilli seeds removed if preferred * One teaspoon mild curry powder * One teaspoon mild chilli powder * Halfa tablespoon black pepper * One teaspoon sea salt * Eight to 10 tablespoons olive oil Afro burgers Method Add chopped herbs, spring onions, garlic and scotch bonnet chilli to the meat and mix well in with the hands. Add curry powder, chilli powder, pepper and salt and continue to mix well. Allow mixture to stand for a few hours. Divide into equal portions and make into medium sized burger shapes. Put the olive oil in a pan on a low heat and cook the burgers for five minutes on one side. Turn them over and cook for 10 minutes on the other side. Turn back again and cook for a further three minutes. This should give a well cooked finish. For a medium finish reduce cooking time by two minutes on each side.

Spicy fish bites Serves four Ingredients * 300g (10oz) cod pieces * One tablespoon mild curry powder * One teaspoon sea salt * Two spring onions finely chopped * Two tablespoons Method Put two tablespoons fresh lemon juice * Eight sprigs coriander, finely chopped * Five sprigs parsley, finely chopped * Two sprigs thyme, finely chopped * 14 tablespoons olive oil * One teaspoon black pepper * Five cloves garlic, finely chopped * Onetotwo teaspoon breadcrumbs * One egg beaten Put two tablespoons of the oil in a pan. Add fish and curry powder and cook over a medium heat for three to four minutes. Remove pan from stove and add spring onions garlic and all the herbs and mix well breaking up the fish as you mix. Add two more tablespoons of oil to the pan and return the mixture to a medium heat for a further four to five minutes. Add breadcrumbs and egg and mix well then continue cooking on a medium heat for another three minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool. When cool, make mixture into balls. Put the remaining olive oil in a pan and cook each fish bite for five minutes on each side.

CAPTION(S):

* David Ikamba, Alan Johnson and George Ikamba, of Mr G's Soul Kitchen PICTURES: Matthew Horwood [umlaut] * Mr G's The Soul Kitchen, Bute Street, Cardiff Bay
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:South Wales Echo (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Apr 28, 2012
Words:926
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