Although not specifically Gabonese – this dish is equally found in Cameroon and other West African countries – Poulet Nieboué (or Nyembwé) is the closest you get to a Gabonese national dish. Its sauce is made from palm nuts. It was one of the first dishes we ate when we moved to Port Gentil. It’s one of my favourite dishes ever, and it always brings back memories of our time south of the Equator.
To make “proper” Niemboué, you need smoked chicken, but I usually can’t get that and make it with ordinary, fresh chicken. Also, I don’t bother extracting the pulp from the palm nuts myself – I tried it once and it was a laborious, messy pain in the butt. I now buy palm nut concentrate in a tin, and it’s fine.
It might sound exotic and a little itimidating, but Poulet Niemboué is actually very easy to make. The ingredients are pretty basic, and there are no tricky techniques involved.
chicken thighs (smoked or not)
2 cloves of garlic
1 hot, hot chili (I use piment antillais/habanero – mine looks frosted in the photo because I keep some in the freezer)
1 can of palm nut pulp (small or big, depending on the quantity of chicken – a small can of 280g is enough for about 6-7 thighs)
salt and pepper
What you do:
- Chop the onions and garlic and fry in a little neutral oil (ex. sunflower)
- Add the chili
- Pour in the palm nut concentrate
- Let simmer on medium heat for a few minutes
- Add the chicken pieces (without browning them first)
- Season with salt and a little pepper
- Let simmer for about 35-40 minutes until the chicken is cooked through and the sauce has thickenend and coats the chicken evenly
- Check and rectify seasoning
It’s as easy as that. (Unfortunately, as with all stews, it’s not that photogenetic…)
I usually serve this with white rice and plantain bananas (just sliced and fried in a little butter).
And don’t forget the Oh la la, ça pique!