African Chicken Kedjenou-inspired dish with Sauce and Polenta 🇨🇮

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What is Chicken Kedjenou (kedjenou de poulet) ?
– slowed-cooked chicken with peppers and spices in aromatic sauce, a one-pot culinary gem from Ivory Coast.

Recipe Intro

Traditionally, Kedjenou chicken is cooked directly over a fire in a clay pot (canari). All the vegetables are finely chopped, mixed, and slathered over the chicken pieces. The chicken and veg mixture are then placed into the pot and cooked covered, never stirred, only shaken 🙂
If you want to try the traditional cooking method, a Dutch oven is an excellent substitute for the clay pot.

Note:
While all the ingredients in this recipe are true to traditional Chicken Kedjenou, the cooking method has been changed to enhance the dish with extra sauce.
Also, Kedjenou chicken is served with attieke, a side dish made from cassava.
I prepared with polenta instead as I couldn’t find cassava in the shops. While attieke is usually served separately in a bowl, I cooked the polenta in half of the sauce and reserved the other half for pouring over the cooked chicken pieces and polenta. It was delicious!

“Kedjenou” originates from the Baoulé language of the Ivory Coast and translates to “to shake.” It refers to the traditional cooking method where meat (such as chicken) and vegetables are slowly cooked together with various spices and herbs in a sealed pot. The pot is periodically shaken during cooking to prevent sticking and to ensure the even mixing of ingredients. This technique results in a flavorful and tender dish, reflecting the culinary traditions of the Ivory Coast.

Ingredients & Substitutes

  • chicken
  • onion
  • spring onion
  • ginger
  • garlic
  • tomato
  • red pepper
  • bonnet pepper
  • chilli flakes
  • bay leaf, thyme

Optional: aubergines (eggplant) and okra.

Traditionally, Kedjenou chicken uses a whole chicken cut into pieces, but I’ve simplified it using only drumsticks. You can also mix white and dark meat, like breasts and legs, to your liking.
This dish is spicy, so go easy with the bonnet peppers and chilli flakes. Adjust to your taste to avoid overpowering heat.


Okra is commonly included. It adds a unique texture and flavour to the dish. The sliminess of okra helps to thicken the sauce.
Its inclusion can vary depending on the recipe and regional variations,

    A more traditional approach often includes chicken liver along with the other cuts of meat, adding depth of flavour to the dish.

    If you prefer mild flavours, skip the bonnet peppers and chilli flakes and only prepare with sweet red pepper. For a gentle kick, add just a touch of cayenne pepper.

    Local vendors in Adjame, Ivory Coast sell chicken pieces and fiery bonnet peppers – essential ingredients for traditional Ivorian dishes like Kedjenou chicken.

    How to make Chicken Kedjenou-inspired dish with polenta?

    Traditionally, Chicken Kedjenou calls for a whole chicken, cut into pieces. However, you can opt for breasts, drumsticks, or whole legs, mixing white and dark meat for a richer taste. I chose chicken drumsticks, keeping the skin on to enhance the flavour. The skin can be easily removed before serving if desired.

    Preparation

    1.
    In a wide pot, heat a combination of butter and oil. Fry the chicken pieces on all sides until they get a golden hue and the skin crisps slightly. It takes about 5 minutes. Once done, transfer them to a plate and cover with foil to keep warm.

    Chicken drumsticks frying in a pan.
    Fried chicken drumsticks on a plate

    2.
    Put all the sauce ingredients in a blender and blend until they’re smooth. Add about 1 cup of water to help blend the vegetables.
    In the same pot where you fried the meat, add the sauce and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring constantly.

    Ingredients for the sauce in a blender
    Preparing the sauce


    3.
    Next, add the chicken pieces and enough water to cover the meat. Bring to a gentle boil. Add salt, black pepper, chilli flakes, nutmeg, bay leaves and thyme. Cook over medium heat for 40 – 45 minutes, allowing the sauce to reduce by 1/3 to half.

    Chicken drumsticks coking in a sauce
    Kedjenou-style chicken cooking in a pot

    4.
    Once the chicken is cooked, remove it and set it aside. Pour half of the sauce into a serving dish for later use.

    Cooked Chicken drumsticks served on a tray
    Serving bowl with sauce

    5.
    In the remaining sauce left in the pot, add the polenta. Slowly bring to a boil and cook the polenta according to the packaging instructions.

    Chicken kedjenou sauce with polenta in a large pot.
    Kedjenou -inspired Chicken pieces in a bowl

    6.
    I didn’t serve whole drumsticks; I removed the skin and separated the meat from the bones. However, you can serve them as you prefer, with the skin on, on the bone etc.

    Serving Chicken Kedjenou

    Traditionally, Kedjenou chicken is served with attieke, a popular Ivorian side dish made from fermented cassava.
    For a fusion twist, I cooked polenta in half of the sauce, which perfectly blends with the rich and aromatic flavours. You can cook the polenta separately and then serve the chicken with sauce on the side or over the polenta.

    chicken kedjenou served with polenta and croatian kale and potato side dish

    I served chicken and polenta with this simple and delicious spinach and potato side dish. .
    Feel free to experiment with different sides (potatoes, pasta, rice)

    Recipe Card

    Chicken Kedjenou-inspired dish with polenta

    Slowed-cooked chicken with peppers and spices in aromatic sauce, a one-pot culinary gem from Ivory Coast.
    Servings 4 portions
    Prep Time 20 minutes
    Cook Time 45 minutes
    Total Time 1 hour 5 minutes

    Ingredients

    • 800 g chicken - chicken leg or breast or mix
    • 1 tsp butter
    • 70 ml peanut oil - if not available, use sunflower

    SAUCE

    • 1 large onion
    • 1 spring onion
    • 4 cloves garlic
    • 2 tsp ginger paste - or grated fresh ginger
    • 400 g chopped tomatoes
    • 1 red bell pepper
    • 1 bonnet pepper - or other spicy pepper

    OTHER

    • 1/2 tsp chili flakes
    • 1 tsp salt
    • 1 tsp black pepper
    • 2 tsp thyme
    • 1 tsp nutmeg
    • 3-4 leaf bay leaf
    • 1 cup polenta

    Instructions

    • Fry the chicken drumsticks in a wide pot with butter and oil until golden and slightly crispy. Remove and set aside.
    • Blend all sauce ingredients until smooth, then add the sauce to the same pot and fry for 5 minutes.
    • Return the chicken to the pot. Pour enough water to cover the meat. Add chilli, thyme, nutmeg and bay leaf. Cook for about 40 min. Liquid should reduce.
    • Remove cooked chicken, setting aside half of the sauce.
    • Cook polenta in the remaining sauce until done.
    • Optionally, strip the meat from the bones or serve the chicken pieces whole.

    Notes

    The total calorie count for the whole dish, including the polenta, is approximately 1850 calories. When serving 4 people, this amounts to about 462 calories per portion. Please note that these calorie counts are estimates and can vary depending on the specific brands and quantities of ingredients used.
    Calories: 462kcal
    Course: dinner, Main Course
    Cuisine: Ivorian
    Diet: Low Fat

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