Cooking with Colombo: A Guide To St. Martin’s Signature Spice

Chicken Colombo, courtesy of Ricardo Cuisine

Jesson and Co / MNI alive

Release Date

Friday, May 26, 2023


Whether you're planning a trip to St. Martin or just looking to try something new in the kitchen, Colombo spice may be the dash of West Indian heat your tastebuds are craving. With roots that go back to Colombo, the capital of Sri Lanka, this classic Caribbean mix actually contains four spices: coriander, chiles, garlic and turmeric. Colombo spice is a staple in the local cuisine of St. Martin, and chefs on the island use it to create complex and flavourful dishes in both the Creole and French cooking traditions.

One of the unique features of Colombo spice is its versatility. The blend can be used to season meat, fish, vegetables, and even rice and beans. The subtle combination of flavours adds depth and complexity to any dish, making it a go-to seasoning for both home cooks and professional chefs.

Another great thing about Colombo spice is that it is all-natural and free from any additives or preservatives. This makes it a healthy and nutritious seasoning option for those looking to add flavour to their meals without compromising on quality or ingredients.

Colombo spice is available for purchase at several local markets and specialty food stores throughout St. Martin. It also makes a great souvenir for those looking to bring a taste of the Caribbean home with them.

At this point, you’re probably wondering what Colombo actually tastes like. Wonder no longer: we’ve attached a recipe below from Ricardo Cuisine so you can get cooking with Colombo.

Chicken Colombo


Spice Mixture

½ tsp coriander seeds 

½ tsp mustard seeds 

½ tsp cumin seeds 

½ tsp aniseeds


1 chicken, about 4 lb (1.8 kg), skin removed and cut into 8 pieces

3 tbsp (45 ml) olive oil 

1 red onion, thinly sliced 

6 cloves garlic, peeled and halved 

1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes (or to taste)

1 tsp chopped chilli pepper (or to taste) 

2 tbsp ground Colombo powder (see note) 

3 Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cut into quarters 

1 sweet potato, peeled and cubed 

1 zucchini, cubed 

2 green onions, chopped 

1 can (14 oz/398 ml) coconut milk 

Juice of 1 lime

Salt and pepper


For the spice mixture: With a mortar and pestle, coarsely grind the seeds. 

Coat the chicken in the spice mixture. In a Dutch oven or large pot, brown the chicken in the oil—season with salt and pepper. Set aside on a plate.

In the same pot, soften the onion and garlic with the pepper and Colombo spice mixture. Add oil, if needed. Return the chicken to the pot and add the vegetables, coconut milk and lime juice. Season with salt and pepper.

Cover and simmer for about 45 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove the lid and cook for about 15 minutes longer or until the meat pulls away from the bone. Adjust the seasoning.

Serve with steamed rice and enjoy a taste of the Caribbean.

Bon Appétit!


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