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Cote D’ Ivoire Kedjenou Chicken

Kedjenou poulet is a chicken stew from West Africa that’s bursting with flavor. Much like sudado de pollo, the stew is left untouched, allowing the meat to slowly braise in its own juices with a blend of aromatic spices and fresh vegetables. The result is a highly concentrated, intensely savory stew that’s sure to become a family favorite.

A serving dish of kedjenou.

Behind the Recipe

I must give credit where credit is due. This recipe would not exist if not for a sweet lady at a farmers market in Colorado. I was drawn to her table laden with spice blends. We sampled many of them. However, I was blown away by a spice labeled kedjenou.

After a brief description of the dish and shared goodbyes, down the rabbit hole, I went. Before the end of the night, I attempted to learn everything there was to know about kedjenou. And while I’ll never be able to recreate the same incredible flavor she had in that little spice packet, I honor her with this recipe.

What is Kedjenou?

Kedjenou chicken stew traditionally cooks in a clay pot called a canary or canari over an open flame. Basting inside a sealed canary allows the chicken to simmer with the flavor from the spices, vegetables, herbs, and the chicken itself.

Kedjenou originates from a smaller ethnic group from the Ivory Coast called Baoulé. The word kedjenou (KED-gen-ooh) means to ‘move or shake’ and refers to the practice of shaking the canary side to side throughout the cooking process to prevent sticking or burning inside the sealed clay pot.

I don’t have access to a canary, though I wish I did because it sounds like it would be fun to cook this way. For most kitchens, a Dutch oven will suffice, and you better believe I take every opportunity to shake the dutch oven back and forth in the cooking process because why not!

Ingredients You’ll Need

  • Chicken: Use bone-in and skin-on thighs, legs, or a combination. You can also break down a whole chicken.
  • Kedjenou Seasoning: Like all good spice blends, kedjenou seasoning varies from kitchen to kitchen; this recipe contains the combination of spices we use, cumin, garlic powder, sugar, cinnamon, smoked paprika, cayenne, turmeric, salt, and pepper.
  • Vegetables: I love using a variety of fresh vegetables like tomatoes, onions, green bell peppers, garlic, carrot, and eggplant.
  • Ginger Paste: Ginger paste flavors the stew and highlights other ingredients.
  • Maggi: I use Maggi and water instead of broth for this recipe. It’s flavorful, easy, and an ingredients I always keep in my pantry. I must admit that when I originally made this recipe for my friends who are from the Ivory Coast, I used another brand of bouillon, and they immediately noticed. Maggi is the way to go!
  • Bay Leaves: Subtly flavor with stew with bay leaves.
  • Thyme Sprigs: Fresh thyme leaves provides earthy sweetness.

How to Make Kedjenou Poulet

The full recipe with measurements is in the recipe card below.

Step 1: Preheat the oven to 350°F (176°C). Then, add the ingredients for the kedjenou seasoning to a small bowl and stir to incorporate.

Our low sodium taco seasoning recipe stored in an airtight container.

Step 2: Toss the chicken with three tablespoons of seasoning in a mixing bowl and set it aside to marinate for 30 minutes.

Chicken thighs and legs coated in kedjenou seasoning.

Step 3: Heat oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat, then add the chicken thighs; saute skin-side down for 3-4 minutes.

Chicken frying in a Dutch oven.

Step 4: Add tomatoes, onion, bell pepper, garlic, ginger paste, carrots, eggplant, and the remaining kedjenou seasoning to the pot. Cook for 2-3 minutes until it becomes aromatic.

A signature of kedjenou is that a variety of vegetables are added to the Dutch oven for maximum flavor.

Step 5: Stir in water, Maggi, bay leaves, and thyme. Nestle the scotch bonnets into the liquid if using them, and cover the pot with aluminum foil, followed by the lid.

Kedjenou in a Dutch oven.

Step 6: Cook for 1 hour and remove the Dutch oven to shake it back and forth 2-3 times during the cooking process.

Kedjenou cooking in a Dutch oven wrapped in aluminium foil to seal in all of the moisture and flavor.

Step 7: Remove the stew from the oven, and place it in a serving dish. Eat as is, over a bed of rice, or with traditional attiéké.

A Dutch oven full of kedjenou chicken.

Expert Tips

  • Use bone-in, skin-on chicken to give the stew more flavor and ensure that the chicken stays tender and juicy as it cooks.
  • The vegetables in kedjenou are meant to cook slowly and break down as they simmer, so it’s important to cut them into large pieces to prevent them from becoming mushy.
  • The vegetables and chicken will release their own juices as they cook, so there’s no need to add too much additional liquid. If the stew seems too dry, you can add a splash of water or chicken stock.

If you enjoy this recipe, try one of these stew favorites!

A serving dish of kedjenou.

Serving Suggestions

  • White Rice, Brown Rice
  • Attiéké
  • Yucca
  • Fufu
  • Yams
  • Peanuts

What to do with the Leftovers

  • Refrigerate  Store the leftovers in an airtight container for 3 to 4 days.
  • Freeze  Let the dish cool. Then, transfer it to a freezer-safe container or bag. Chicken kedjenou freezes for up to 3 months.
  • Thaw – Defrost the stew in the refrigerator overnight.
  • Reheat  Warm leftovers on the stovetop to serve and enjoy!

Frequently Asked Questions

What variations of kedjenou can I try?

Chicken is the most common way to prepare kedjenou, but you can make this recipe with beef, lamb, goat, fish, and seafood. Feel free to experiment with the vegetables; I use tomatoes, onion, bell pepper, and eggplant; carrots, green onions, potatoes, and okra also work well in the stew.

Ivorian food is known for being SPICY! Feel free to add habaneros or a traditional scotch bonnet for more heat.

More International Dinner Ideas:

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A serving dish of kedjenou.

Kedjenou Chicken

Tressa Jamil
Kedjenou is a mouth-watering chicken stew. A whole chicken slowly braises in its own juices with a blend of aromatic spices and fresh vegetables.
4 from 8 votes
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 10 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 25 minutes
Course Main Course
Cuisine African, Ivorian
Servings 8 Bowls
Calories 234 kcal
Equipment
Ingredients
  
For the Stew:
  • 2 pounds chicken thighs and legs, bone-in and skin-on
  • ½ cup kedjenou spice, divided
  • 5 large tomatoes, diced
  • 2 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 1 green bell pepper, diced
  • ½ eggplant, cubed, 1-inch pieces
  • 2 medium carrots, sliced
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tablespoon ginger paste
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cube Maggi
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 6-7 fresh thyme sprigs
For the Kedjenou Seasoning:
Instructions
 
  • Preheat the oven to 350°F (176°C). Then, add the ingredients for the kedjenou seasoning to a small bowl and stir to incorporate.
  • Toss the chicken with three tablespoons of seasoning in a mixing bowl and set it aside to marinate for 30 minutes.
  • Heat oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat, then add the chicken thighs; saute skin-side down for 3-4 minutes. You may have to work in batches, then return the chicken to the pan.
  • Add tomatoes, onion, bell pepper, garlic, ginger paste, carrots, eggplant, and the remaining kedjenou seasoning to the pot. Cook for 2-3 minutes until it becomes aromatic.
  • Stir in water, Maggi, bay leaves, and thyme. Nestle the scotch bonnets into the liquid if using them, and cover the pot with aluminum foil, followed by the lid.
  • Cook for 1 hour and remove the Dutch oven to shake it back and forth 2-3 times during the cooking process.
  • Remove the stew from the oven, and place it in a serving dish. Eat as is, over a bed of rice, or with traditional attiéké.
Notes
Expert Tips:
  • Use bone-in, skin-on chicken to give the stew more flavor and ensure that the chicken stays tender and juicy as it cooks.
  • The vegetables in Kedjenou are meant to cook slowly and break down as they simmer, so it’s important to cut them into large pieces to prevent them from becoming mushy.
  • The vegetables and chicken will release their own juices as they cook, so there’s no need to add too much additional liquid. If the stew seems too dry, you can add a splash of water or chicken stock.
Nutrition Disclosure:
  • The nutritional information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. It should not be considered a substitute for professional advice.
 
Nutrition
Serving: 1 Serving | Calories: 234 kcal | Carbohydrates: 15 g | Protein: 17 g | Fat: 13 g | Saturated Fat: 3 g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 3 g | Monounsaturated Fat: 5 g | Trans Fat: 0.1 g | Cholesterol: 58 mg | Sodium: 767 mg | Potassium: 694 mg | Fiber: 5 g | Sugar: 7 g | Vitamin A: 4960 IU | Vitamin C: 35 mg | Calcium: 54 mg | Iron: 2 mg
Did you make this recipe? Let me know how it turned out for you! Leave a comment below and follow @thejamilghar or tag #thejamilghar on Instagram!
4.38 from 8 votes (6 ratings without comment)
Recipe Rating




Brea

Saturday 5th of August 2023

This was sooo good and flavorful! This is going to be a fall go to for sure!

Tressa Jamil

Saturday 5th of August 2023

It's always on rotation in the fall and winter, and such a good way to use vegetables in the fridge. I am happy you enjoyed it.

Calee Cortes

Sunday 22nd of May 2022

Gonna be honest, I was scared of the whole bone in, whole chicken situation, but it was really delicious and not at all scary. I love all the veggies and that you can make it as spicy as you want!

Tressa Jamil

Sunday 12th of June 2022

This is music to my ears. I love introducing people to new cuisine; I hope it's a meal you continue to make.

RJ

Thursday 19th of May 2022

I loved this chicken stew! I wish I could have it every day. It is so healthy and filling. I don't like tomatoes and do not mind them at all in this dish.

Tressa Jamil

Sunday 12th of June 2022

What a kind comment. Thanks for letting me know you enjoyed it, and that we could make you love tomatoes. just a little bit.