Chicken Kedjenou

Chicken Kedjenou

Chicken Kedjenou

It has been brought to my attention that I haven't written any recipe in a while. I wished I could say it's because I have been busy saving the world. Alas, the real reason is sadly bereft of muscle, blue spandex, inside-out bright red panties with matching flying cape, and heroic actions.

The real reason behind this procrastination long pause is because my work has been a bit more hectic than before. I had to go to West Africa for at least two weeks every month for the whole year. It left me not much time to do culinary experiments. Weekends were spent doing laundry and entertaining the family. However, my trips to different countries in Africa gave me the opportunities to taste the local cuisine.

One dish I enjoyed the most was Chicken Kedjenou, a spicy chicken stew originally from Cote d'Ivoire. It has this zing of freshness from the tomatoes and herbs, and spicy at the same time. The real kedjenou is prepared with Guinea hen and aubergines in a clay pot for hours, and traditionally served with attiéké (cassava couscous) or rice. I had problem digesting attiéke so I prefer to enjoy this dish with a bowl of rice. 

This dish is easy to make and is best made in a slowcooker or cast iron pot. It doesn't require any typical herbs from the original country either which makes it practical to do in any kitchen.

Here is the recipe:

8 chicken thighs or 1 whole chicken
3 onions, chopped
2 garlic, chopped
3 tbsp oil (I used duck fat)
1 inch of fresh ginger, shredded
1 tsp smoked paprika, or more
3 Scotch Bonnet chili or habanero chili
5 bayleaves
1 tsp thyme
4 tomatoes, chopped
2 cubes Maggi chicken bouillon
Salt and pepper to taste
a pinch of sugar (optional)

Cooking steps: 
  1. In a cast iron pot or Dutch oven, heat the oil and sauté chopped onions, garlic, shredded ginger, smoked paprika, Scotch bonnet chili, bayleaves, and thyme until the onion becomes translucent and oily (liquid is mostly evaporated),
  2. Add chicken, tomatoes, chicken bouillon, salt and pepper, and cook on low heat for 45 minutes to an hour.
  3. Stir and turn the cast iron pot every 15 minutes during the cooking, add a pinch of sugar if needed,
  4. Serve with a bowl of rice.    

See, I told you it's easy. Most recipes don't even require to sauté the onions and garlic at the beginning, you can just put everything all together in the pot on low heat and let the magic happen. Adding liquid is not needed, the chicken will cook in its own juices plus the liquid from the tomatoes. The key is to let it simmer for hours to tenderize the meat and concentrates the flavour.  the real way to cook it is to avoid opening the lid until it's cooked to prevent any liquid evaporated. You have to shake the pot vigorously so the ingredients do not stick on the bottom. This is where the dish got it's name. Kedjenou means 'shake inside' in Baoulé.

Enjoy !

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