As soon as I look at 196 flavors’ programming schedule and I see an upcoming trip to Africa, I have a cold sweat!
I was hoping to meet the person who would make me less critical since my peanut macaroons from Sudan but I’m still waiting!
I regularly complain about my lack of passion for the cuisine of this continent but it’s just for fun… and also as a therapy!
I’ll make a confession: my mandazi from Tanzania, < a href = "https://www.196flavors.com/2013/06/14/equatorial-guinea-akwadu/">akwadu from Equitorial Guinea and today’s palava were all Mike’s finds. My peanut macarons were my friend Laurence’s find. It could have been worse!
Palava sauce (or palaver sauce), which in fact is more of a stew than a sauce, is widely consumed in West Africa. There are many variations of this traditional West African dish, namely from Ghana, Nigeria and Sierra Leone claiming the paternity of this dish.
Palava sauce combines mainly green vegetables and a choice of protein. The two green vegetables most often used for this recipe in the West African countries are spinach and okra. Some don’t use okra but you won’t find palava without spinach! Specifically without taro leaves, an African variant of the same family.
I could have attributed my recipe to several countries that we have not traveled to yet but I stayed with the first idea, that of Mike, who attributed it to Liberia. Why Liberia? It is probably a coincidence but maybe it is because it is the only country that makes palava sauce with a combination of mlokhia and spinach? Two key ingredients of Tunisian Jewish cuisine! Besides, mlokhia is the Arabic word for the plant. Jew’s mallow and corchorus are the names of this plant in English.
It is no secret that Mike is of Tunisian origin! And for those who do not know it yet, go read his on post about pkaila. I now know how he chooses his African dishes. Everything is so much more delicious with spinach, like in his Togolese recipe of gboma dessi!
Although I am not Tunisian (I am not from very far either), it’s mlokhia that attracted me to this West African recipe. I won’t even call it mlokhia or Jew’s mallow but KrinKrin! Yes, this is yet another name for the same plant and I find it way more fun to say!
I found out about this plant last year, guided by my friend Hanna, who recommended I made an Egyptian mlokhia. And it was just delicious!
This is the third time I use KrinKrin in a recipe and I love the slightly bitter taste but also the thickening and silky aspect it brings to stews. Besides the many therapeutic properties of this plant including a very good remedy against toothache and acting as a strong antipyretic. So, if you experience pain and fever, make a KrinKrin soup and you’ll recover in no time!
But back to our palava! The word comes from “palaver” which is derived from the Portuguese word palavra. A palaver is a lengthy discussion or quarrel. It is assumed that this is where the sauce got its name as African would start their disputes by beating each other with green vegetables.
Despite the fact that this stew is almost always cooked with palm oil, I personally decided not to use this ingredient which, everyone knows, is harmful. I replaced it with peanut oil.
At our table, no palaver! Chicken Palava was a unanimous success for this recipe!
Recipe of Chicken Palava
Ingredients (for 4 people)
- 4 chicken breasts, cut into strips
3 garlic cloves, crushed
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons peanut oil (or palm oil)
2 scallions, thinly sliced
4 tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped
2 tablespoons peanut butter
1 1/2 cup chicken stock
1 sprig of thyme
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 lb spinach, chopped
1/2 lb Jew’s mallow (mlokhia)
1 green chili pepper, seeded and minced
2 tablespoons peanuts, coarsely ground
2 tablespoons pumpkin seeds
In a bowl, combine garlic and chicken. Add salt and pepper.
Melt the butter in a pan and sauté the chicken over low heat, turning the pieces over. Set aside.
In a saucepan, heat the oil. Sauté the onions and tomatoes over medium / high heat for 5 minutes, until they soften.
Reduce heat and add peanut butter and half of the chicken broth. Stir well.
Cook for 3 minutes, stirring constantly to prevent the peanut butter from burning, then pour the remaining broth, thyme, ginger, spinach, Jew’s mallow, ground peanuts and chili pepper. Add salt and pepper.
Add the chicken to the mixture and cook over medium heat for about 20 minutes. If necessary, increase the heat toward the end to reduce the liquid.
Sprinkle with pumpkin seeds before serving.