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Around the World with Eighty Spices

March 23rd, 2012 - By Lari Robling

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Lori Tharps is an author and blogger who writes about parenting, race and culture and uses recipes as way to share multicultural experiences. She says ethnic foods are often healthier and more frugal than our traditional meat and potatoes fare. So if you haven’t visited your supermarket ethnic aisle, now’s the time to buy a ticket!


RECIPE: Tharps’ Jamaican Curried Chicken

“For me, cooking food from diverse cultures just speaks to my interest and writing that I do  teaching children about cultural diversity.”

That’s Lori Tharps. In her books and blog, she examines race, identity and culture through parenting – and food.

Tharps traveled the globe before having three kids.  Now, she uses the ethnic aisle of the supermarket as a passport. I met her in her Mt. Airy home as she prepared Jamaican curried chicken.

Says Tharps, “It’s healthy and its frugal. This is the easiest recipe because essentially you don’t have chop in fancy pretty pieces big chunks are fine because you let it cook for a long time on slow heat.”

Tharp uses chicken drumsticks, but meat isn’t the focus instead, vegetables take over. She likes carrots, green peppers along with white or sweet potatoes, but plays around with ingredients.

The chicken marinates with parsley, garlic powder and black pepper at least an hour, but she often leaves it overnight in the refrigerator. She begins cooking the dish by sautéing onion, garlic, and her secret ingredient…ginger.

“And I don’t chop it because I don’t want people to bite into ginger,” says Tharps. “I really want just the essence so the whole big chunk peeled is going in with the onions and garlic.”

To that she adds some curry powder….and offers a geography lesson.

She notes, “When we are talking about a Caribbean dish the Caribbean was an amalgamation of cultures –African, Indian and  Asian,  but when you talk about curry powder from the West Indies its usually tumeric, coriander, ginger and salt. It should be yellow, though, if it’s not yellow it’s probably not a West Indian curry.”

The chicken gets a quick sautee then she adds the chopped veggies. Cover and cook over very low heat for about an hour and half or until the chicken is falling off the bone. Tharps serves it with brown rice and cabbage on the side. And how does Tharpes  finish this island meal?

“A mango for dessert. A fresh juicy mango for dessert and its perfect!”

Lori Tharps will be a panelist on our parenting/nutrition seminar  – November 8th at 6:30 here at WHYY.

2 Responses to Around the World with Eighty Spices

  • Joelle

    Great article! There are so many fun spices to try — if you want to get some new ideas about how to incorporate some into your holiday meal, Ten Thousand Villages Greensboro is having a Global Thanksgiving Event on Nov. 13 with food demos & recipes!

  • Lari Robling

    Thanks Joelle. I’ve been experimenting with cardamom in my pumpkin spice mix. While I have used cardamom seeds in Indian cuisine, the ground spice in Scandinavian baked goods is new territory but I like it!

Photo by Flicker user Chiot's Run / CC BY-NC 2.0

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