This West African chicken mafé recipe is packed with rich, savory flavors. It is super creamy, filled with tender textures, and very colorful. If you are looking for a nutrient-packed African stew, this is it!
This is also an extremely versatile recipe that you can adjust to your liking. You can play around with the type of protein you add, the vegetables, and even the spices.
Not to mention, it is a very tasty dish to serve with many plain accompaniments like rice, couscous, quinoa, and fufu.
What Is Chicken Mafé?
West African Cuisine is amongst the most flavorful I’ve come across. It is stuffed with rich flavors, unique combinations of ingredients, and a strong tradition of passing down recipes through the generations.
This chicken mafe recipe is an amazing example of such a dish from West Africa. It is well-known and loved across the region but especially in Ghana, the Ivory Coast, Gambia, Mali, and Senegal.
So, what exactly is chicken mafé? The simplest way to describe peanut flavor in this dish is that it is a West African peanut chicken stew.
However, there is a lot more that goes into this dish than you may think!
This recipe is packed with delicious root vegetables that create a super savory, umami, and earthy stew. Its seasonings are simple, and it mainly relies on the natural flavors of tomatoes, browned chicken, and earthy vegetables.
I’ve only added some sea salt, black pepper, tomato paste, and garlic as flavoring ingredients.
Ingredient Notes and Substitutions
Cooking oil: I utilized peanut oil, but other options such as vegetable oil, canola oil, or sunflower oil are also viable.
Chicken: For this recipe, I utilized chicken breast, but feel free to substitute it with other protein options such as chicken thighs, tofu, shrimp, beef, or pork. If you’re a vegetarian, you can replace chicken with plant-based protein sources like tempeh or seitan.
Aromatics: I love using chopped garlic and onion, but you can also substitute onions with shallots or leeks. You can swap garlic with garlic powder or minced garlic or add chopped cilantro.
Tomato base: A mix of tomato paste, water, and tomatoes is used for this recipe. But feel free to substitute tomato paste with canned tomato sauce or pureed canned tomatoes. If you don’t have fresh tomatoes, you can use canned diced tomatoes as a substitute.
Vegetables: You can use any of the vegetables with your preferred vegetables. For example, you can add grated ginger or replace carrots with parsnips or celery. You can replace cassava with yucca, and sweet potatoes with butternut squash. Be mindful of the cooking time for the different vegetables.
West African Chicken Mafé Recipe Variations
As you can imagine, this is a very versatile West African stew recipe. As with most of the dishes from these regions, people rely on what is available and what is affordable.
So, you will find many different variations of this dish depending on the region you are in.
Mafé can be made with chicken (like we are today), beef, lamb, and even fish. Depending on the type of meat you are using, you may need to adjust the flavors of the recipe slightly.
For example, I am not the biggest fan of eggplant and fish together. So, in that case, I would leave out the eggplant.
You can also add, replace, or take away some vegetables. Other common tasty additions to this dish include okra, pumpkins, cabbage, onion varieties, green cabbage, and chilies.
I sometimes like to add a few fresh chilies or cayenne pepper to give the peanut chicken stew a bite. But this is optional. And luckily, you can easily adjust the exact amount of spiciness you add.
And finally, even though I haven’t incorporated a ton of spices into my version of chicken mafe doesn’t, that doesn’t mean you can’t. You can definitely play around with some hearty spices if you’d like.
What To Serve With Chicken Mafé
There are three main accompaniments you can serve with peanut butter chicken mafe. They include cooked rice, couscous, and fufu.
Couscous is a very popular side that you can serve with most African stews. But there are also substitutes you can take a look at.
How to Store and Reheat
Chicken Mafé is best served fresh, but it can also be stored in the fridge for up to 3 days. It should be cooled quickly and placed in a sealed container before refrigerating.
You can also freeze it by wrapping it in the container in a layer of foil and freeze it for up to 3 months.
To reheat, simply thaw it overnight in the refrigerator and then heat it on the stove or microwave until warmed through.
Can You Make Vegan Mafé?
There are a couple of vegan mafé recipes out there as well. Even this recipe can easily be turned into a vegan alternative. Remove or replace the chicken with tofu or lentils. Then, just ensure that your stock cube is vegan. That’s literally the only changes that you need to make.
Can You Make Chicken Mafé In A Slow Cooker?
This chicken stew in peanut butter sauce is suitable for making in a slow cooker. Keep in mind that the cooking times will vary considerably. You can check the manual or guide that comes with your specific model to help you figure out how long the chicken and vegetables will take to cook.
Homemade Chicken Mafé Recipe With Peanut Butter Sauce
- 2 tbsp peanut oil
- 1 pound chicken breast, skinless, boneless, cut into strips
- Sea salt flakes, to taste
- Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 2 onions, finely chopped
- 4 tbsp tomato paste
- 2 cups water
- 4 tomatoes, cubed
- 1 clove garlic, chopped
- 1 yellow bell pepper, deseeded and chopped
- 1 seasoning stock cube or chicken broth
- 3 tbsp creamy peanut butter
- ½ head cabbage, shredded
- 3 medium carrots, peeled and sliced
- 1 small cassava, chopped
- 1 small eggplant, cubed
- 2 medium potatoes, peeled and cubed
- 1 sweet potato, peeled and cubed
- ½ medium turnip, peeled and cubed
- Heat the peanut oil in a saucepan over medium heat
- While the oil is heating, season chicken strips with sea salt and black pepper.
- Add it to the heated pan and allow the strips to cook for about 5-7 minutes. The chicken pieces should be beautifully browned, but they don't have to be completely cooked.
- Remove the chicken from the pan and set it aside.
- In the same saucepan, add the diced onion. Allow it to saute over medium heat stirring occasionally for about 5 minutes or until it becomes translucent.
- Next, add the tomato paste and water. Stir these ingredients well until you have a uniform mixture. Leave this mixture to cook on low heat for a couple of minutes.
- Meanwhile, blend the tomatoes, garlic, yellow pepper, stock cube, and 1/2 cup water. Make sure they are blended together very well.
- Then, add the blended chopped tomato mixture to the heating onion-water base. Mix the ingredients together very well and allow them to heat (still using low heat).
- Then, make the peanut butter mixture by whisking the peanut butter with 1/3 cup of liquid in a small mixing bowl. This just helps the peanut butter better incorporate into the stew base.
- Finally, add the chicken to your peanut sauce and tomato mafé base. You can add the remaining prepared vegetables as well. They include cabbage, cassava, eggplant, potatoes, sweet potato, and turnip.
- Bring the stew to a boil over medium-high heat.
- Once boiling, reduce the heat and allow the ingredients to simmer on low heat for 20-25 minutes until the sauce thickens.
- Your chicken mafé stew is ready to be served when the chicken is completely cooked, and the vegetables are tender.