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Namibian Hard Body Chicken Stew (Marathon Chicken Recipe)

Namibian Hard Body Chicken Stew (Marathon Chicken Recipe)

Marathon chicken is a mouthwatering Namibian style hard body chicken stew made with free range hard body chicken and finished off with a good dash of marula oil.

Marathon chicken is a staple in many Namibian households, especially among the Ovambo tribe. There are many ways of preparing marathon chicken, fried, in tomato sauce or onion sauce and today I’m sharing with you my favorite way cooking marathon chicken.

The secret to achieving the best result is browning the chicken, adding a bit of water at a time, and giving the chicken enough time to cook.

Why is it called marathon chicken?

Namibian free-range chickens are called marathon chickens or marathon runners. Because our chickens run around the house and in the field the whole day.

They are indeed the happiest chickens in the world. As a result, they are very well trained, and their meat is tough. That’s why marathon chicken is cooked in a 3-legged pot (potjie pot) over an open fire for hours until the meat is tender.

I have to say that it’s not easy to catch a Namibian free-range chicken, thus why it is called marathon chicken in the first place. The kids are always responsible for chasing marathon chickens.

The grown-ups normally show the kids which chicken will be slaughtered and then they will chase it, until it gets tired and give up. It can take you the whole hour just trying to catch it.

How marathon is prepared the Namibian village style

While the kids are busy trying to catch the chicken, the grown-ups are busy boiling water. Once marathon chicken is caught, it’s slaughtered and then boiling water is poured over it to remove the feathers.

After the chicken is slightly browned on a metal grill over an open fire, just to remove the remaining feathers. This step is also important for flavor enhancement.

Next the inner parts are removed and then the chicken is washed and cooked either as a whole chicken or cut into pieces. Back in the village we also clean and cook the head, intestines, liver, heart, and lungs. But when we’re preparing marathon chicken for the guests, we don’t cut the chicken into pieces.

Traditionally the chicken is seasoned with a local herb called ,,Elume Linyika, cooked until soft and then finished off with a good dash of marula oil. But I have made this stew without elume linyika and marula oil and still turned out delicious.

Ingredients used to make this African hard body chicken stew

  • 1 hard body chicken, 1.7 kg/ 3.7 lbs
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 2 teaspoons curry
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 2 ½ teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground paprika
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 1 bell pepper (capsicum), about 150 g ( 5.3 oz)
  • 1 large onion
  • 2 small tomatoes or 1 medium tomato
  • 10 g (0.35 oz) fresh ginger root (about 1 teaspoon minced ginger)
  • Approximately 500 ml (2 cups) water, hot
  • 3 tablespoons sunflower oil

How to make African hard body chicken stew

Wash the chicken inside out and cut off all visible fat. Next, pat dry the chicken with paper towels and rub it inside and out with roughly 2 teaspoons salt and ½ teaspoon pepper.

Then brown the hard body chicken on all sides.

In the meantime peel and chop onion and garlic. Peel ginger root and grate with a box grater.
Then cut paprika and tomatoes into small slices.

Remove the chicken from the pot and set aside. Sauté onion, garlic and grated ginger in the chicken drippings for about 2 minutes.

Add bell pepper and tomatoes and let cook for 2 more minutes. Then stir in spices and let cook for 2 minutes.

Add back the browned chicken sideways and stir in half of the water. Cover and simmer for about 120 minutes. Keep adding the remaining water in between (so that the bottom of the pot doesn’t burn) and turning the chicken after every 30 minutes.

After 2-hour cooking time remove the lid and cook for 15 more minutes or until the meat is tender and the sauce is nicely thick. If you feel like the meat is not yet tender, then just add more water and let simmer a bit longer. Taste the stew and season again with salt and pepper, if necessary. Enjoy!

What to serve with African hard body chicken

To serve cut the chicken into serving-size pieces and serve. Traditionally marathon chicken is served with Pearl Millet Pap (aka. Mahangu pap/ Mahangu stiff porridge) or Mielie pap (maize meal stiff porridge). But it also tastes amazing served with pasta, over rice or with a slice of bread.

Namibian Hard Body Chicken Stew (Marathon Chicken Recipe)

Marathon chicken is a mouthwatering Namibian style hard body chicken stew made with free range hard body chicken and finished off with a good dash of marula oil.
Prep Time30 mins
Cook Time2 hrs 15 mins
Total Time2 hrs 45 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: African, Namibian, Southern African
Keyword: marathon chicken, Namibia cuisine
Servings: 8 Servings
Author: Ester | esterkocht.com

Ingredients

  • 1 hard body chicken 1.7 kg/ 3.7 lbs
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 2 teaspoons curry
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 2 ½ teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground paprika
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 1 bell pepper (capsicum) about 150 g ( 5.3 oz)
  • 1 large onion
  • 2 small tomatoes or 1 medium tomato
  • 10 g (0.35 oz) fresh ginger root (about 1 teaspoon minced ginger)
  • 500 ml (2 cups) water hot
  • 3 tablespoons  sunflower oil

Instructions

  • Wash the chicken inside out and cut off all visible fat. Next, pat dry the chicken with paper towels and rub it inside and out with roughly 2 teaspoons salt and ½ teaspoon pepper. Then brown it on all sides.
  • In the meantime peel and chop onion and garlic. Peel ginger root and grate with a box grater. Then cut paprika and tomatoes into small slices.
  • Remove the chicken from the pot and set aside. Sauté onion, garlic and grated ginger in the chicken drippings for about 2 minutes.
  • Add bell pepper and tomatoes and let cook for 2 more minutes. Then stir in spices and let cook for 2 minutes.
  • Add back the browned chicken sideways and stir in half of the water. Cover and simmer for about 120 minutes. Keep adding the remaining water in between (so that the bottom of the pot doesn’t burn) and turning the chicken after every 30 minutes.
  • After 2-hour cooking time remove the lid and cook for 15 more minutes or until the meat is tender and the sauce is nicely thick. If you feel like the meat is not yet tender, then just add more water and let simmer a bit longer.
  • Taste the stew and season again with salt and pepper, if necessary and serve. To serve cut the chicken into serving-size pieces and serve.
  • Traditionally marathon chicken is served with Pearl Millet Pap (aka. Mahangu pap/ Mahangu stiff porridge) or Mielie pap (maize meal stiff porridge). But it also tastes amazing served with pasta, over rice or with a slice of bread.

Did you make this Namibian marathon chicken recipe? I’d love to hear from you! Simply write a comment and add rating to it.

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