Wednesday, September 22, 2010

West African Chicken Stew with Tomatoes and Peppers

Buys yams at the outdoor market

This dish makes me happy because it is one of many dishes that I learned to cook, as a young American bride, marrying into a vibrant, loving, tight-knit Nigerian family.

Shopping for spices in a Nigerian marketplace

With no cookbooks to reference, I have watched and practiced, tasted and experimented, first learning to make the dishes exactly like the women I learned from.

Good thing I have sisters to help sort out what I need to buy

Now, with years of stews, soups, and meat pies under my belt, I can make these dishes my own. This is my version of a Nigerian Style Chicken Stew.

Nigerian Style Chicken Stew

One whole chicken
1 small red onion
1 habenero (or other spicy) pepper, minced
1 tablespoon curry powder
2 teaspoons dried or fresh thyme
½ teaspoon chili powder
¼ teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons of olive oil
1-2 pounds of tomatoes*
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 handful of fresh basil leaves
a pinch of sugar
¼ teaspoon salt

*If tomatoes are in season, use fresh paste tomatoes, such as Roma or San Marzano. If tomatoes are not in season, I recommend using a canned tomato, such as Muir Glen. A half dozen tomatoes will be about equal to a large (28 ounce) can.

First, prepare the whole chicken for the soup pot. Butcher the chicken into the typical eight pieces: wings, breasts, thighs, and legs. Remove the skin from the breasts and thighs, and discard the extra fat and skin. Then, cut the wings into two pieces at the middle joint. Cut the legs and thighs in half, right through the bone, using a heavy cleaver. Cut the breast pieces into three pieces. If you are not squeamish, cut the back into three pieces, and add the back and the neck into the pot as well.

Place all of the chicken into a large soup pot, and begin to heat over medium-high heat. Slice half of the onion into large pieces and add it to the chicken pot with the spices. Turn the meat, to evenly distribute the spices. Continue to cook the chicken, turning regularly. When the skin begins to color, add one and a half cups of water, and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to medium, and continue to simmer.

I removed the skins of these tomatoes to make stew for the baby - this is not at all necessary

After the chicken has been cooking for about 30 minutes, begin to prepare the tomato base for the stew. Using a food processor or blender, blend the tomatoes, the other half of the onion, and the basil, until minced finely. Heat the olive oil in a medium sauce pan on medium-high heat. Add the minced garlic and cook for a few seconds, until fragrant. Add the blended tomatoes and basil, sugar and salt. Bring to a simmer, then reduce the heat to medium. Simmer for twenty minutes.

the tomatoes will begin to look dry

After twenty minutes, the tomatoes should begin to look a bit dry. It is now time to combine the chicken and the tomato. Begin by ladling the broth from the chicken pot, into the tomato pot, stirring to incorporate. Then, add the chicken pieces, stirring to coat in the tomato-broth sauce. Taste the stew. Add more chili powder, or more salt, if needed. Return to the heat, and simmer for an additional ten minutes. Serve with steamed rice.

Me, almost exactly one year ago, making stew to eat after the baby is born


Cort (Modern Super Momma) said...

This looks SO fantastic! I'm bookmarking this bad boy for future reference!

(Oh, and you're so pretty and hair is so shiny in preggo picture!)

Alison said...

Looks like a great recipe! Do you have a favorite brand of curry powder? I can't find one I like.

Dakota said...

This looks delicious! I will have to try it for sure - my husband is a big fan of these kind of dishes.

How are your melons?

emvandee said...

TOTALLY making this on the weekend, because it doesn't look like the skies will clear up anytime soon, and by then I know this will be exactly what we need!

Melynda said...

This looks so delicious, and I love your banner. Thanks for stopping by,

PS and I did hit like on your facebook icon. It is a great way to keep up.

Lara said...

Alison - what I would recommend, especially if you don't use it very often, is to buy small amounts in bulk so that it is always fresh when you use it.

Dakota - I ate one of the melons (lovely!) and the rest are in my handmade hot box hoping to ripen.

Cort and Melynda - thanks for the kind words!

Emvandee - This stew is great in the winter - so freeze some extra for later!

Sustainable Eats said...

I'm so glad you posted this! I have a chicken thawed and peppers and tomatoes here (as you know haha) so guess what we're having for dinner tomorrow night? Do you make flatbread to eat it with? Or how would they eat it? Wonderful!

meg said...

This looks fantastic! Thanks for sharing! Perfect for cooling evenings!

moonglowgardens said...

Lara, my kind of stew. I'm finally enjoying the flavor signature of habanero and I cannot wait to try this.

Oh, I second Cort's comment on the preggy pic.

Thanks for sharing!

Mindy said...

This looks delicious. I've spent time in Africa and LOVED the food, but clearly missed out by not going to Nigeria!

Melynda said...

I have begun collecting all Wa bloggers I find and placing a RSS feed on a Yahoo page I set up just for them. I have had a great time reading other blogger there, and seeing what is happening in other part of this wonderful state. And of course you are there. Thanks for posting.

Yolanda said...

Yum. How wonderful that you could learn about how our sisters in a different part of the world cook! Thank you for sharing this.

Sustainable Eats said...

Lara, would this work with lamb shanks? I didn't get this made last year but I've been thinking about it lately!

Lara said...

Yes, this works great with beef, lamb or goat meat! Cook these red meats for closer to 2 hours before combining with the tomatoes, for a total cooking time at almost 3 hours.

shelby said...

I have been looking for this very recipe for several years every since some girls I worked with made it thank you sooooo much!

shelby said...

Thank you sooo much for this recipe I have been looking for it for several years every since some ladies from work made it. I tried it and fell in love with it. It is delicious!