July 25, 2020

Macanese African Chicken Galinha à Africana 非洲雞

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More yummy stuff from Macau!  And we've found that a fun way to travel during this home bound time (I feel like I've been in my house for a year!) is thru the cooking of foods from other places.  This one is the famous Macanese African Chicken 非洲雞, also known as Galinha à Africana, a fragrant spice infused chicken dish that's baked in a deliciously spicy, slightly sweet, nutty sauce.

This dish, amusingly enough, has barely nary a thing to do with Africa.  The name, I believe, comes from the fact that from the 1400s until just recently Portugal has had colonies in countries all over the world and one of the main things they procured early on from these colonies was spices.  

Portuguese carracks off a rocky coast - Joachim Patinir circa 1540

In those early days spices were rare and costly things so ships were loaded to the brim with black peppers from India, cloves, mace and nutmeg from the Spice Islands of Indonesia, piri piri peppers from Mozambique of Africa,  cinnamon from Sri Lanka, etc.  Within the colonies the food cooked and eaten began to be influenced not only by the local food stuffs available but also by the many cultural influences that these traders soaked up as they moved here and there on the spice route.  

One of the results of this 'fusion' is this Macanese African Chicken, wherein a marinated chicken is browned in a pan before being smothered and baked in a deliciously spice rich thick sauce that reflects influences from not only Africa, but India, Malaysia, China and of course Portugal as well.  

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What exactly are those influences you might ask?  Well, there is a lot of debate but here are my deductions.  There is the theory that this dish evolved over the long years from the African dish called Piri Piri Chicken which the Portuguese traders in Mozambique were fond of and brought over to Macau as they moved about on their spice routes.  

The Indian influence is in the use of the many spices to produce an almost curry like dish.  The use of dried coconut and coconut cream is the influence of Malaysia and the bay leaves are the hint of Portugal.  The hint of five spice powder is definitely Chinese.  What do you all think? 

Exotic spices in Mapusa Market in Goa, India -photo by judepics

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Here's the very exotic mish mash spice mix for marinating of the chicken!  Almost a dry rub, really.  Paprika, chili powder (or simply chopped up hot chili pepper if you like), five spice powder, dried rosemary, salt, black pepper, shallots and garlic, all mixed together! 

Note:  This recipe uses hot paprika for the marinade and sweet paprika for the sauce.  They are different, one being smoky spicy, the other smoky sweet.  But it's perfectly fine to sub one for the other.

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We decided to use chicken wings but any chicken part is okay, just make sure the sizes are manageable eating sized pieces.  Rub the marinade in good and then place into a closed container to marinate in the fridge.  If you can do it overnight, all the better for the flavor.

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Once marinated, the chicken is pan fried to crisp up the skin.  Grilling is also excellent and good for maximum flavor.  Then on to the final stage: smother with the spice packed sauce and send to the oven to bake in all those delicious spice filled aromatic flavors!

There's a lot of spices and cultural influences in this one dish.  That's what makes it unique and delicious.  There is one confession I have to make: the splash of lemon juice in the end is something I added and not traditionally used but I liked how the acidity perked up and and made the flavors all the more vibrant!

That's all there is to this uniquely Macanese dish.  Not too much work at all.  And the end result?  The Macanese African Chicken gives you tender spice infused chicken that's smothered in a deliciously nutty and curry like sauce, so many hints of all kinds of flavors, so yummilicious!  Well worth the effort and a salute to the very colorful and interesting past of Macau!  Hope you all like it!

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Macanese African Chicken Galinha à Africana
(adapted from recipe from Henri's Galley restaurant in Macau)
Prep time: 10 mins  Marinade time: 4 hours  Cook time: 40 mins 




Rinse then dry chicken with kitchen paper.  Mix together marinade ingredients.  Rub marinade into the chicken and let marinate covered in the fridge for 4-6 hours or overnight.

Deseed and roughly chop red pepper.  Peel and roughly chop shallots and garlic.  Use hand mixer to mince red pepper, shallots and garlic.  

Add 2 tbsp olive oil to a pan over low heat, then add in the minced mixture, and cook until soft, stirring occasionally.  Add in sweet paprika, coconut, peanut butter, chicken stock, coconut cream and bay leaf.  

Bring to a boil, then lower heat and let simmer for 10 mins or until thickened.  Season with salt and pepper. Add in lemon juice, 1 tbsp at a time, to taste.

Heat another frying pan over medium heat. When hot add in 2-3 tbsp oil, then add in chicken pieces, remembering not to crowd the pan, and fry until each side in golden brown.  Remove and repeat for all the chicken pieces.

Arrange browned chicken in a baking tray, then pour enough of the sauce over to cover chicken.  Bake in 400°F oven for 30-40 mins or until the top of sauce is browned.  Serve with a side of boiled potatoes.  Enjoy!



  1. Wow! Thank you for bringing us on your food adventures. This African Chicken looks really yummy! Now, I really want to go to Macau!

  2. Hey Julia - So glad you enjoyed our post, and you should really go to Macau if you haven't been, it's a really fascinating city! ~ellen

  3. Just made this tonight. It's so delicious! Thanks for the recipe.

  4. Hi Lolai - so glad you liked it! ✌️😉 ellen

  5. One of my favorite street foods when I lived in Macau was this place that made chicken skewers with this sauce. This recipe reminded me of them! Thanks for putting this recipe in here!

  6. Yummy, do you remember where these chicken skewers can be found? I would love to try it next time we go to Macau. You're so lucky to have lived there, the food there is so good! ~ellen