Kedjenou Chicken (Ivorian Chicken Stew)
Kedjenou Chicken is popular and delcious Ivorian dish. It is a one pot dish and also very easy to make. If you're Nigerian, I could compare the taste to our Nigerian pepper soup however the spices used are totally different. What they both have in common is how spicy they are and the thickness of the stew- it's not as thick as Nigerian stews but still delicious.
As usual, and as someone exploring food from different countries, I like to make sure I get the recipe as authentic as possible and where possible through research and speaking to friends or anyone I know and come across that is from that country. For example, for my Red Red recipe, I spoke to an air b n b guest I had who happened to be Ghanaian. Initially I thought it might be odd asking but it wasn't at all and I also asked about other Ghanian recipes I was looking to do as well. For this Kedjenou Chicken recipe, as well as the research I did into it, I spoke to an Ivorian friend about it as I wanted to get the method right and as authentic as possible, here is what she said about it:
"Le Kedjenou is a one pot dish. The way you make it does matter! The proper way to make it in the villages is to clean your meat, diced your vegetables and mix everything with your herbs and spices. And you put everything in banana leaves and the put it in a canari (a clay pot) wrap it and dig a hole in the ground a cook it (underground oven) and you slow cook it for hours and the juices from the chicken come out which becomes the broth…
The way Ivorians in the diaspora have adapted the cooking method is by adding water to make the broth. So you cook it the traditional way on the stove on low heat and after 20min you and add 3 cups of water (depends on the quantity) the idea is to have it seem like the water is chicken broth from the bird so don’t over do it"
There are things/tips she said that will bascially form this recipe, so shout out to her for this! Thanks to her for this recipe. So beleive me when I say this recipe is as authentic as it can be. Of course, I won't be cooking it in the traditional way as they do in the village- it will be more of the diaspora version. But there are things that we have in the diaspora that we can use as alternative- so for example you can use a dutch oven as an alternative to the clay pot. The point is for whatever pot you are using to trap in the heat.
Couple of important things to note about this dish is that you need little to no water to cook it as the meat will release its juices. Secondly, you don't open the pot once you start the slow cooking process. To stir, all you do is to shake the pot vigorously. This also helps to avoid the chicken stick to the bottom of the pot.
Kedjenou is typically had with Attiéké (this is fermented cassava grain- which has similar texture to couscous), but can also be paired with other staples like rice. Also, you can use guinea fowl (which is what is traditionally used) instead of chicken. Because of the long cooking time, if you are using chicken, I'd say it is best to use broiler chicken (also known as Pulvera or hard chicken). This is because soft chicken might get get really soft and break/fall off into. However I haven't tried it which soft chicken but just saying it based on logic/ what I think. Let's get into the recipe!
-Food processor (optional- you will only need this if you are using method 2 as explained in the process section)
-1 kg chicken
-6 Garden Egg (or you can use 1 whole aubergine instead)
-Ginger (you can use powder form as an alternative)
-4x garlic pieces
-6-8x Chicken Seasoning cubes
-1 tsp salt
-1x bay leaf
-3x scotch bonnet (or 1x if you don’t want it as spicy)
1) Clean your chicken as normal and place into the pot.
2) Chop and cut the vegetables- tomato, garden egg, carrots, & onions. If you’re using fresh garlic and ginger, grate them and set aside.
Alternative method: in the a food processor, chop the following- onions, tomatoes, ginger & garlic. Don’t blend until smooth- just blend roughly.
3) Add the vegetables into the chicken, followed by the seasoning cubes, bay leaves and scotch bonnet (put the scotch bonnet in whole).
4) With adding water to this there are 3 ways you could do this: add about 1 cup of water before starting to cook. Or you you cook for about 20 minutes and then once the chicken has released some of its juices, you can add about 2 cups of water- don’t add to much water howwver! Last method is so to cook with no water at all- the chicken will release all its juices. With the last method, I believe you will have a more thicker consistency. 5) Cover up and cook on low heat for about 1 hour and 30 mins. Remember don’t open at all during the cooking. To stir, just shake the pot vigorously. Do this from time to time.
6) After it’s done cooking, serve with whatever you’re pairing it with and enjoy!
Check out the reels section of my Instagram page for a quick video showing the process here. Any questions, feel free to send an email or message on any of my social media platform.