Chicken Moambe

Palm cream or palm pulp is a staple ingredient in the African cuisine, especially in West and Central Africa. The cream or pulp is extracted from oil palm fruit. The palm fruit is harvested then boiled to be later pressed to collect the reddish-orange cream. In most African households, people are still making their palm pulp themselves using fresh palm fruits. However, thanks to industrialization, it’s now possible to buy palm cream or palm pulp in a can. And it’s an easy alternative for people living in Western countries, like myself. Canned Palm pulp can be found in most Exotic markets and Asian markets (since Malaysia is the world largest producer of palm oil).

Now let me talk about the Chicken Moambe. It’s a rich and savory stew made with palm cream. This dish is widely popular in four central African countries: Republic of Congo, Democratic Republic of Congo, Gabon and Angola. In both Congo, it’s known as Poulet à la Moambe, in Gabon it’s called Nyembwe or Poulet au Nyembwe and in Angola, people call it Muamba de galinha. Chicken Moambe is also considered as a National dish in all four countries.

This dish is part of my culinary heritage. And it’s one of my favorite African stews. Although it’s not the type of dish that you would eat every day, but, Chicken Moambe is a comforting and yummy stew. Originally, the poultry used was old hens, but over time, people replaced hens with chicken because it was less time consuming to cook.  Some traditionalists (like my late grandmother) still prefer to use old hens because of their strong flavor. I personally always use chicken as my main poultry for my Chicken Moambe.

Disclaimer, this is my version of Chicken Moambe based on a family recipe.

Here is the recipe:

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Chicken Moambe

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Prep: 30 min                         Cook: 35-40 min                   6 Servings

 

 

 

INGREDIENTS

12 Chicken drumsticks

400 g or 2 cups of Palm cream or Palm pulp

2 and ½ cups of Water

1 Bouillon cube

1 Onion

2 Spring onions

3 Gloves of garlic

2 whole Hot peppers

2 Bay leaves

Salt

Black pepper

 

 

 

DIRECTIONS

1. Season the chicken drumsticks with salt and pepper. In a large Dutch or French oven with a splash of vegetable oil, over a medium heat, brown the drumsticks for 2-3 minutes on each side until they turn golden. Remove them from the pot and set them aside for later.

2. In a food chopper, crush onion, green onions, garlic and one of the two hot peppers together into a paste. Remove the seeds from the hot pepper if you want a less spicy onion paste.

3. Over a medium heat, in the same pot used earlier to brown the chicken, with a drizzle of vegetable oil, fry the onion paste for 2-3 minutes. Pour the palm cream and stir. Add water, the bouillon cube and bay leaves.

4. Add the drumsticks to the sauce. Season with salt and pepper. Add the remaining whole hot pepper to the Moambe sauce. Let it simmer, uncovered, for 35-40 minutes until the sauce has thickened. Then, it’s time to serve.

Tips:

Chicken Moambe can be served with rice, pounded plantains, steamed plantains or with cassava steamed bread called Chikwangue in both Congo.

Instead of using chicken drumsticks, a whole chicken cut into pieces would work perfectly.

It’s possible to replace chicken with any other kind of meat from beef, lamb, venison or any other wild game meat like crocodile or alligator (for those living in Florida).

Remove the scum or the oil from the sauce with a spoon while cooking.

 

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