Somebody please set the table!
Grab your plates, bring the chairs closer and let’s make it one of the best Mother’s Day celebration ever! At least that’s how it used to be back then during my childhood times. Mother’s Day normally falls on the last Sunday weekend of the month of May here in Mauritius.Everybody would be gathered at my place because GrandMa was staying with us. So every time during festive periods, it will be La Fiesta at ours as someway or the other it was where everybody grew up from really. It feels like it was yesterday really, the excitement, the joy and also the thrill knowing that everybody is coming down whenever Mother’s Day would be nearing. One week before I would hear lots of planning in terms of meal planning,things to do and whether to do it at home or at the beach. That was the biggest question really as we live 10 mins away from the beach. So it was always either at home or a lovely day spent at the beach.
Chicken Daube or Chicken Tomato Stew, is basically a casserole dish where you can also add a lot of root vegetables and make it even more hearty. Ideal as winter warmers and comforting dinner meals,they are the best options really when it comes to family gatherings.However the classic Mauritian one is simply,Chicken slow cooked in a rich hearty and fragrant tomato stew. Best served with pipping hot Dal Puri (Stuffed Flatbreads with yellow split peas) directly from the stove and a nice crunchy salad on the side. That’s how I grew up eating it really and even now my Mama keeps the tradition as it’s also one of her favourite after Lamb Curry.
You can also refrigerate the stew and it last as easily as a few days really if you find yourself always running out of time and ideas for lunch time. Warm and serve over a bed of white fluffy rice or even in a plain baguette accompanied by a crunchy ”Achard Legumes” – Mixed Vegetable Pickles . My favourite kind of lunch to be honest and so easy to get going with. Mauritian Food has always been about the good times and love shared around that one particular dish for me. And this one is of an amazing example as to why really. Because we would all gather around a big table, uncle, aunties, all the cousins and each of us would be so busy narrating their days along with their adventures with great sound of laughter. As traditionally as it can get, we would end the day on the dance floor with some great Mauritian Folk Music – The Exotic Sega Dance! And I would stand there, observing and appreciating that love and joy they would all share at that precise moment. Little did I know while growing up that it all fades away. Life is one beautiful puzzle! But hey good thing is that we can still re create those memories and moments with food and live it through again in a more grateful manner.
Mother’s Day Special – Mauritian Chicken Daube
Serves : 5
Preparation time : 30 mins
Cooking time : 45 mins
- 1 kg chicken ( whole chicken)
- 1 can tinned tomato (400g)
- 1 big white onion all diced up
- 3 big potatoes
- 2 tbsp ginger/garlic paste
- 2 dry red chillies
- 2 cinnamon sticks
- 1 tsp fenugreek seeds
- 2 tsp cumin seeds
- curry leaves
- coriander leaves
- 2 bay leaves
- chicken stock/cubes (optional)
- vegetable oil
- Cut chicken in respective pieces,wash and salt/pepper accordingly.
- In a big pan or saucepan, add 3 tbsp of vegetable oil and bring to a medium heat.
- Throw in the diced onions, followed by ginger/garlic paste and curry leaves along with thyme and dry red chillies.
- Leave to sweat for 5 mins, then add in the fenugreek, bay leaves and cumin seeds.
- Stir continuously and then pour in your tinned tomatoes.
- Keep stirring for some 10 mins more until a paste is obtained.
- Add in your chicken cuts as well as the potato chunks and 1/2 ltr of water (or the chicken cube stock)
- Cover and leave to slow cook on very low heat for 30 mins approx.
- Salt and pepper accordingly as well as sprinkle fresh coriander leaves on top 5 mins before turning the gas off.
- Serve with hot rotis/flatbreads or fluffy white rice and some salad on the side.