I suspect that African chicken, like Singapore noodles and Yangzhou fried rice, is hard to find in its namesake place. African chicken is popular in Macau, where it is often listed on menus by its Portuguese name, galinha à Africana. It is a spicy, finger-lickin’ dish that goes well with a pitcher (or two) of sangria to tame the heat. Macanese African chicken When you order African chicken in Macau, you never know exactly what you are going to get. It will be some type of spicy chicken, of course, but at some restaurants the marinated poultry is grilled and served without sauce, at others it is more like a stew, with pieces of chicken swimming in sauce. Some versions are fiery hot while others are more coconutty. And don’t get me started on what the chicken is served with – I’ve eaten it with rice, sautéed potatoes and, my favourite, home-made crisps (packaged varieties are fine, too). This recipe is a cross between the two techniques. I grill the marinated chicken until done, then bake it briefly with a rich sauce that is reduced slightly on the stovetop. Allow plenty of time for the chicken to marinate; it needs at least three hours, although you can leave it for up to eight. 8 bone-in chicken thighs, about 250 grams each 100 grams shallots, peeled 50 grams garlic cloves, peeled 30 grams peeled ginger 15-20 grams red bird’s-eye chillies 100 grams red banana chillies 25 grams fresh coriander ½ tsp whole black peppercorns 30 grams granulated sugar 2 tsp chilli powder ¾ tsp paprika 25ml fish sauce 15ml vinegar 25ml fresh lime juice 150ml coconut milk Fine sea salt, as necessary Fresh coriander leaves, to garnish 1 Dry the chicken thighs with paper towels. Sprinkle both sides of the chicken pieces with salt, then put them in a medium-sized mixing bowl. 2 Roughly chop the shallots, garlic and ginger, then put them in the bowl of a blender or food processor (or use an immersion blender). Mince the bird’s-eye chillies, shaking out as many seeds as possible. Roughly chop the banana chillies and fresh coriander. Add these to the bowl. 3 Add the peppercorns, sugar, chilli powder, paprika and 10 grams of salt to the bowl and process the ingredients to a coarse paste. Add the fish sauce, vinegar and lime juice, and process the ingredients to a rough purée. 4 Stir the coconut milk into the purée, then pour the marinade into the bowl holding the chicken. Mix well to ensure the pieces are coated with marinade and refrigerate for three to eight hours, mixing occasionally. Take the bowl from the fridge an hour before cooking the chicken. 5 Preheat the grill element of the oven, turning it to high. Take the chicken out of the marinade and place the pieces skin-side up on a baking tray that will fit them so they are just touching each other. Grill the chicken on high until the skin is deep brown and slightly charred in spots, then turn the oven to baking mode at 200 degrees Celsius and bake the chicken for 10 minutes. 6 While the chicken is cooking, scrape the marinade into a heatproof serving dish (perhaps of enamelled cast iron) just large enough to fit the chicken pieces a little snugly. Place over a medium flame and bring to the boil, then lower the heat and simmer, stirring often, until the sauce is of a nice coating consistency. Taste the sauce and correct the seasonings, if necessary, adding more sugar (and/or coconut milk) if it is too spicy. 7 After the chicken has baked for 10 minutes, take the pan from the oven. Pour any chicken juices into the serving dish and mix well. Place the chicken pieces in the dish. Spoon over the sauce to lightly coat the chicken. Return the dish to the oven and bake for another 10 minutes. 8 Remove the dish from the oven and add sprigs of fresh coriander over the chicken pieces. Serve immediately, with rice or potatoes.