Chicken manchamanteles

Chicken manchamanteles

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  • 6
  • Easy
  • 45 minutes
  • 1 hour
  • Fleur du Cap Unfiltered Sémillon 2005

“Manchamanteles” is Spanish for “tablecloth stainer” – a common enough mishap with the generous quantity of sauce, red with chillies and tomatoes. The recipe perfectly illustrates the intricacy of authentic Mexican cooking – refined techniques learnt in the kitchens of the Spanish colonists.


  • 4 dried red chillies, deseeded
  • 1 medium onion, peeled and halved
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 1 stick cinnamon
  • 4 cloves
  • 4 black peppercorns
  • 1 T blanched almonds
  • 3 T sunflower oil
  • 3 large ripe tomatoes
  • ½ t dried oregano
  • ½ t dried thyme
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 chicken (about 1.5kg), cut into portions
  • 1½ cups water
  • 1 t salt
  • a few sprigs of parsley
  • 500 g peeled and cubed sweet potato
  • 1 T butter
  • 1 small pineapple, peeled and cubed
  • fresh coriander leaves, for garnishing
  • soft warm fl our tortillas, for serving
  • 2 firm bananas, sliced

Cooking Instructions

To bring out their flavour, first toast the *chillies in a heated cast-iron pan. Press lightly for a minute or two, until they begin to change colour, taking care not to burn them.
Cover with hot water and leave to soak for 20 minutes, then drain and chop roughly.
In the same way, roast the peeled onion and garlic in a cast-iron pan until charred on the outside, then chop roughly.
Pan-roast the cinnamon, cloves, peppercorns and almonds, stirring to prevent catching. First crush the cinnamon stick, then blend or process all the roasted ingredients with the drained chillies.
Stir-fry the mixture in 15ml (1T) heated oil for 4 or 5 minutes, until fragrant.
Pan-roast the tomatoes in the same way or slide under a hot grill until charred. As soon as they are cool enough to handle, slip off the skins and chop roughly.
Blend or process the tomato, then stir into the chilli mixture with the dried herbs and cook briskly for about 10 minutes, stirring all the time. Season lightly with salt.
Heat the remaining 30ml (2T) oil in a heavy casserole. Add the chicken, in batches, and fry until lightly browned. Return to the casserole. Add the water, salt and parsley, and bring to a bubble.
Reduce the heat, cover and simmer for about 10 minutes. Add the chilli sauce and sweet potato, and cook for 30 minutes or until the chicken and potato are very tender. Check seasoning.
Heat the butter then fry the banana and pineapple pieces until lightly browned and starting to catch. Spoon over the chicken. Sprinkle generously with coriander leaves.
Serve with warm flour tortillas for mopping up the sauce.
Cook’s tip: Roll the dried chillies in the palm of your hands to loosen the seeds, then snip off the tops and shake out the seeds.
Per serving: 3233kJ, 39.4g protein, 30g fat, 81.1g carbs

*Omit the chillies to make this dish super child-friendly.

Phillippa Cheifitz Recipe by: Phillippa Cheifitz
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Regular TASTE contributor Phillippa is a well-known South African author and food writer, and has won many awards, both for her magazine features and her cookbooks.

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