Its name says it all! The CEO ! The Chicken Executive Officer or Poulet DG (Poulet Directeur Général) in French. One of the most emblematic dishes of Cameroon!
Emblematic and unmissable and yet, very recent! Indeed, the Poule DG was born in the 80s and comes from the Bamileke region, in the western part of Cameroon.
Why CEO? Simply because it was a dish served to distinguished guests, to the richest people whether it be for business meals or political meals. Indeed, at the time, only the elite would have had the means to pay for this dish.
This dish contains some very unique ingredients but absolutely not rare or hard to find, as well as many basic ingredients that you can find in any kitchen around the world.
First, red palm oil, which has a distinct smell and flavor and of course a striking red color that turns orange when it is heated. Red palm oil is absolutely not difficult to find in African and Asian supermarkets.
Then, there is this famous plantain banana which has no secrets for 196 flavors, a type of banana that is less sweet than a classic banana and that is used in many African, Asian and Pacific dishes, thus often replacing Western starched such as potatoes, for example. You can find plantains in any African or Asian grocery store and nowadays, they are also sold in most grocery stores.
Never try to substitute banana for plantain, as the result will definitely not be pleasant!
And finally, my discovery of the day, which happens pretty much every time we cover African cuisine. Two small seeds:
If there is one thing that I love above all, and this is what Mike and I have in common, it is to find myself in a grocery store where food enthusiasts like us discover spices and ingredients from another world.
Today, two small seeds, similar to all those small seeds that are eventually ground or rubbed and which contain in their heart a treasure of unsuspected aromas. One of the essential virtues of food enthusiasts is generosity and it is, in my mind, a tremendous heritage to convey.
I would like to begin by telling you about the generosity and kindness of a couple of enthusiasts who manage my favorite African grocery store and who, besides patience and all the explanations, recipes, and ideas they provide, have not hesitated to give me njangsa (which was out of stock that day) straight from their personal stock. Yes, their own personal kitchen! Thank you ! Thank you !
So, first of all, what is this njangsa? Njangsa is a round and golden seed that is omnipresent in the cuisine of Cameroon, but also in Ivory Coast. Its taste is very pronounced and is characterized by notes of peanut. It is crushed, ground or used as is, before being incorporated into hot preparations.
Njasang is a kernel that comes from a fruit tree. These kernels are the fruit of the ricinodendron heudelotii, a tree from the tropical forests. It is a tree originating from West and Central Africa, that can reach heights of 150 feet.
The name njangsa varies from country to country: in Côte d’Ivoire, it is called akpi; in Ghana, wana; in Nigeria, okhuen; in Angola, muguella; in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, bofeko; and in Uganda, kishongo.
Now, what about pèbé?
Pèbé is a spice that has a lot of character and is also called “false nutmeg”. It is a seed with a shell, as hard as a walnut, hidden in the fruit of a centuries-old tree from Central Africa. Its flavor is both sour and spicy. The nut is broken and the seed that is nested in it is ground.
Now, let me finish with a little riddle about an essential ingredient of African cuisine!
The answer weighs about 2 oz and measures about 1 inch: a bouillon cube!
It has become so ubiquitous in African pots that it is regarded as a mandatory ingredient in most recipes, exactly the same way you would use a pinch of salt or a spoon of oil. It has been more than a century since this little kub made its appearance in Africa. Invented in 1886 by the Swiss Julius Maggi, the aroma was created to spice up the broths that were too bland and the soups that were tasteless, but also to save time in the kitchen.
I cooked this poulet DG for a lunch with my girlfriends and we all loved the big boss!
- 1 whole chicken , cut into pieces
- 6 plantains (unripe)
- 2 celery stalks , roughly chopped
- 1 onion , diced
- 2 red onions , diced
- 3 tomatoes , peeled, seeded, and diced
- 4 carrots , sliced
- 1 green bell pepper , diced
- 1 red bell pepper , diced
- 1 yellow bell pepper , diced
- ⅓ lb green beans , blanched and cut into 3
- 1 bouquet garni (thyme and laurel)
- 1 bunch flat parsley , finely chopped
- 8 cloves garlic , crushed
- 1 (2-inch) piece ginger , grated
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- ½ cup tomato sauce
- 3 tablespoons red palm oil
- Vegetable oil
- 2 hot peppers (optional)
- 25 seeds njasang
- 5 seeds pèbè
Add chicken to a pot of salted boiling water with the onion, carrots, celery stalks, bouquet garni, salt and pepper and cook on medium heat for 45 minutes.
Drain the chicken pieces and dry them.
In a non-stick pan, heat vegetable oil over medium heat and fry the chicken. Set aside.
Peel and cut the plantains into ½-inch thick slices. Deep fry them until golden brown. Set aside.
In a large pot, over medium-high heat, sauté the red onions in warm red palm oil for 1 minute. Add the tomatoes and carrots. Stir and sauté for 1 minute. Add the bell peppers and hot peppers, mix well and sauté for 1 minute.
Add the green beans and remaining celery and sauté for 3 minutes.
Add garlic, parsley, paprika, and ginger. Season with salt and pepper, and continue cooking for 2 minutes.
Add the ground njangsa and pèbè seeds.
Cook over high heat, stirring constantly for 5 minutes, then pour over tomato sauce and crushed bouillon cubes. Cover and cook over medium-low heat for 10 minutes.
Add the chicken and plantains. Stir gently and cook over low heat for 15 minutes.
Serve with white rice.