In the United States, I feel like most people's exposure to African food comes through either Nigerian or Ethiopian food. It's a classic tale of East Coast vs West Coast. However, the South has something to say!
One of my absolute favorite dishes is moambe chicken, a rich chicken stew with palm butter or oil as the driving ingredient. There are dozens of varieties of moambe chicken throughout Central and Southern Africa, but my favorite version comes from Angola. Muamba de galinha is enhanced by the addition of okra and squash.
As someone with ancestors that came through the South, the flavors and ingredients in muamba de galinha taste similar to what I grew up learning to cook. It's meals like this that remind you of how connected the diaspora really is.
Muamba de Galinha
3 tbsp. vegetable oil
3 tbsp. palm oil
3 ½ lbs. chicken
3 onions, chopped or sliced
5 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tbsp. tomato paste
3 tomatoes, coarsely chopped
3 bay leaves
Juice of ½ lemon
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. smoked paprika
1 tsp. white pepper
½ tsp. dried thyme
½ tsp. ground ginger
½ tsp. ground coriander
½ tsp. ground cumin
1-2 habanero peppers, pierced
1 chicken bouillon cube
2 c. chicken broth or water, plus more
1 lb. butternut squash, cubed into ½-inch chunks
20 okra pods, sliced lengthwise in half
Fresh parsley, to garnish (optional)
1. I lightly seasoned the chicken with salt and pepper before searing. However, you can toss the chicken with the lemon juice and the dried seasonings before searing.
2. If using low-sodium chicken broth or water, add 2 tsp. salt instead of 1 tsp.
3. For more tender okra, add it in when adding the squash.
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes
Total Time: 50 minutes
Yield: 4-6 servings
Special Equipment: Large pot or Dutch oven
Heat the oils in a heavy-bottomed pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the chicken and brown on both sides for about 5 minutes. Be sure not to overcrowd the pan, as it can cause the chicken to not get as nice of a sear. Once done searing, set aside the chicken.
Add the onions and sauté until translucent, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic and cook another 30 seconds.
Now add in the tomato paste and diced tomatoes, giving a good stir. Follow this up with the rest of seasonings, broth, squash and seared chicken. You may need to add more broth at this point (just enough to cover the chicken).
Bring to a boil and let it simmer, covered, until chicken is pretty much cooked and tender. Add in okra, cooking for an additional 5 minutes or more.
Check the seasoning and serve hot with rice and/or funge (cornmeal or cassava mash).