- 2.2–2.5 kg chicken pieces
- 2 large onions, sliced
- 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 3 bay leaves
- 2 T mild curry powder
- 1 beef stock cube or 1 Tbsp beef stock powder
- Salt and ground black pepper to taste
- 3 large potatoes, peeled, washed and cut into chunks
- steamed bread or pap for serving
1. Place all the ingredients except the potatoes in a large pot. Add enough warm water to cover the chicken. Put the lid on the pot and cook on medium heat for 2 hours. (Turn the chicken every now and then, and top up the pot with boiling water if necessary.)
2. Add the potatoes and cook, covered, for a further 30 minutes, or until the potatoes are fork-tender and the gravy is rich and thick. (If the gravy is too thin, remove the lid from the pot and cook for another 10–15 minutes, or until sufficiently reduced).
3. Serve umleqwa with umngqusho, steamed bread or ipapa (stiff maize meal).
Cook's note: If you portion a whole chicken, put it all into the pot, including the backbone. If you buy chicken pieces, you may need to add extra thighs or drumsticks to make up the weight. It may seem odd to use beef stock in a chicken dish, but it adds a surprising depth of flavour. Chicken stock is fine, if you prefer it.
‘Umleqwa’ is isiXhosa for ‘road runner’ chicken – a free-range bird that has spent its life foraging in gardens, fields and streets. Home-reared ‘hardbody’ chickens are different to supermarket birds – they are bigger and tougher, with strong bones, so they need a long cooking time, but the end result will be tender meat and a tasty gravy. Why ‘road runner’? Well, that comes from the action that takes place when you try to catch it! ‘Leqwa’ means to chase, and believe me, these birds know when it is time to run!
This recipe is an extract from Dinner at Matloha's, published by Penguin Random House (Pty) Ltd and available at all good book stores.