Chicken Palava

Chicken Palava isn’t actually from the part of Africa I lived in…..but I still rate it as extreme comfort food, as it conjures up fond memories for me. The African Cookbook by Dorinda Hafner (which I was given soon after we came back to Oz, and over which I pored during my languishing homesick lows) features a stunning palava, or as I like to call it- a ground nut stew. Ground-nut stew sounds so much more exotic than peanutbutter stew, wouldn’t you say?
Palava is one of the dishes I loved at a restaurant (the Happy Feeling Cafe) that we discovered in Newtown when my parents lived in Sydney. The Happy Feeling Cafe served a wide range of West African dishes, some of which bear resemblance to coastal Kenyan dishes. Its decor and the live music (well, ok, just the owner singing) took me to my happy place.
So I saw this chicken palava recipe and, after momentarily giving in to all the warm fuzzies, I thought ’Oh yes! This is one to make.’
Isn’t palava a great word? As an Aussie I guess it should have me harking back to the idea of pavlova, but no, I immediately thought ‘pilau’. I served this palava over rice. But over a lovely mound of ugali it would have been perfection. Watch this space for some Kenyan cuisine.
It was well-received even though I forgot to put in the key vegetable that makes it African, that being spinach (kale, if you can get it!). I was so tempted to add lime to this dish, with the thai influence kicking in…..but I stayed true, and after eating it, I am glad I did. It would not have been the chicken palava, if the lime had been in there. Maybe one day the world will be ready for West African/Thai infusion but not yet, my sweets, not yet.
If there were any leftovers, I would photograph it again, having seen a much-less- lazy palava maker’s efforts on the web and being inspired. Recipe from Kayotic Kitchen!

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