This West African comfort food will bring smiles all around! The chicken pairs well with the thick peanut sauce. The cabbage and root vegetables give the dish more body. Make a big pot of it and share with loved ones!
Mafé or maafe is a dish from West Africa that is made up of meat in a peanut or peanut butter sauce. It is served over rice or couscous. The dish originated in Mali, and the recipe spread to other parts of Africa. It became very popular in Senegal and Gambia. Some versions of mafé are simple with just meat and peanut sauce. There are other versions of mafé that are more stew like and consist of ingredients like onion, garlic, tomato, peppers, cabbage, and spices. Lamb and beef are the most commonly used proteins for mafé, but fish and chicken are used in some recipes. When this dish is made with chicken it is called Poulet Mafé.
This recipe was inspired by Food and Wine Chef Pierre Thiam’s recipe for Poulet Mafé. What surprised me about his recipe was the addition of fish sauce to the mafé. Immediately I felt a connection with his dish, because fish sauce was incorporated into so many Vietnamese dishes I had grown up eating. The slow simmering of this meal and the addition of root vegetables also reminded me of making Vietnamese curry. These kinds of dishes were meant to stretch the meat out for more servings.
When I really thought about it, it was actually not very surprising to find connections between this Senegalese dish and the Vietnamese dishes I grew up with. Both Senegal and Vietnam were under French control for a period of time. Senegal and Vietnam were colonized by the French during the late 1800s. That French influence made a huge impact on both countries food culture and language. Food can really connect people and different cultures together, whether it be similar ingredients or cooking techniques. Even though we had never had the dish before, when my husband and I ate it together we immediately tasted something familiar and comforting. I hope that this dish brings you comfort. Please enjoy!
Poulet Mafé Recipe
Yields 6 servings
Specialty Tool: Dutch Oven
Prep Time: 25 minutes
Inactive Time: 60 minutes
Wine Pairing Suggestion: Chardonnay
Beer Pairing Suggestion: Pale Ale
1 pound boneless chicken thighs, cut into 2-inch chunks
1 clove garlic, minced
1 inch fresh ginger, peeled minced
1/2 yellow onion, chopped
1 cup chopped tomatoes with their juices (fresh or canned is fine)
3 tablespoon fish sauce
1/4 teaspoon ground paprika
1/2 cup smooth peanut butter
1 cup water
2 cups chicken broth
1/4 of a head of cabbage, cut into large pieces
3 carrots, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 small sweet potato, peeled and cubed
3 small russet potatoes, peeled and cubed
sliced Scotch Bonnet peppers (optional)
Serve with rice or couscous
Heat up a tablespoon of vegetable or olive oil to a Dutch oven over medium heat.
Add the chopped onion and sauté until softened, about 7 minutes.
Brown the chicken pieces in the Dutch oven for about 4 minutes.
Stir in the tomatoes, fish sauce, and paprika to the pot. Simmer for about 6 minutes.
Turn the temperature to medium-low. Pour in the peanut butter, water, and chicken broth. Cook for 4 minutes, until it bubbles.
Throw in the cabbage, carrot, and sweet potato. Simmer for 10 minutes.
Stir in the russet potato, and simmer for 35 to 40 minutes, until all the vegetables are tender.
Garnish with parsley and Scotch Bonnets if using.
Serve with rice or couscous.
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