My Windrush Story
I was born in Frankfield, Clarendon, Jamaica. I was registered as being born on the 7th November 1957 but my Mom insists I was born on the 8th! She says I was born with a single grey strand of grey hair which, according to folklore, is a lucky sign.
My parents decided to come to the UK, like many of their generation, to seek better opportunities for themselves and their families. They left me to be looked after by my Mom’s relatives and they came to England to earn enough money to send for me and my sister later. We didn’t arrive on the Windrush but arrived by plane some two years later.
To this day I still remember the shock of arriving in the middle of winter in a strange country and, because of the time we spent apart, to come and live with strange people – who I was told were my parents. Back then my only reference point of familiarity was the Jamaican foods that my mother cooked, which were a reminder of home.
Although I had lived in this country since I was five, technically I was a foreigner because the British and Commonwealth passport that I arrived on was no longer valid. The only way I was able to claim permanent status was to go through the long and laborious process of becoming naturalised. I did so in my late 20s. If I hadn’t, I could have ended up in the same position as some of my contemporaries who came to this country at the same time as me and were threatened with deportation.
Now in my mid 60’s I am proud to be a British Jamaican. People often wonder why from such a small island extraordinary people arise and make a great impact on the world. Think of Bob Marley, Usain Bolt and many, many more. Well we Jamaicans know the secret. It is down to the food we eat and love!
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Rice and Peas and Jerk Chicken Recipe
For the chicken – if you don’t have all the spices, a shop bought Jerk seasoning will be a good alternative.
- ½ onion
- ½ tsp ground coriander
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 4 thyme sprigs, leaves picked
- 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 2 tbsp finely chopped parsley
- 4 tbsp rapeseed oil
- ½ Scotch bonnet chilli, finely chopped
- 1 tsp ground paprika
- ½ tsp allspice
- 2 tbsp soy sauce
- pinch freshly grated nutmeg
- 4 chicken thighs, skin on, bone in
- 75ml/2½fl oz rum
- 200ml/7fl oz chicken stock
- 4 tbsp honey, to glaze
For the Rice and Peas
- 150–200g tin Gungo peas or black-eyed beans, drained
- Few sprigs fresh thyme
- 1 onion, peeled, cut in half
- 2 bay leaves
- 500g long grain rice
- 400ml can coconut milk
For the Fried Plantain
- Vegetable oil, for frying
- 2 black very ripe soft plantains, peeled and cut into slices
- Preheat the oven to 190C/170C Fan/Gas 5.
- First marinade your chicken. Put it into a shallow dish that will take all the thighs on the base. Give the onion a quick blitz until smooth, then add the oil, herbs and spices. (The Rum , Honey and chicken stock are for later) Mix well then smother the chicken thighs until well coated. Cover and leave.
- Put the drained Gungo peas or black-eyed beans in a pan with the remaining ingredients. Add an equal amount of water as rice. Bring to the boil, then reduce to a low heat and cover, and cook until all the liquid has evaporated and the rice is cooked through and fluffy. Keep an eye on it!
- Roast the chicken for 25–30 minutes – make sure you turn the meat at least once. Then pour over the honey and turn up the heat to 200C/180C Fan/Gas 6 and cook for a further 10 minutes, or until the chicken is browned and completely cooked through.
- Remove the chicken from the oven, carefully pour off the juice into a small pan. Add to the pan the rum and reduce by half. Pour in the stock and reduce again until you have a gravy consistency. Keep the chicken warm.
- For the fried plantain, shallow fry until crisp on the outside. Remove and drain on kitchen paper before serving.
- Serve the chicken with the gravy, rice and peas, and fried plantain on the side. Add a side salad if you fancy.
To celebrate Windrush Day is important, it gives us as a nation the opportunity to reflect on how we as a generation have contributed to the greater good of Britain.
I hope you enjoy these deliciously sweet and spicy sausages!