Poulet Mafé


In Senegal at the Keur Moussa monastery, a typical meal includes poulet mafé, a thick peanut sauce with chicken, root vegetables, and cabbage served over rice, fonio, or millet couscous. For chef Pierre Thiam, poulet mafé is the ultimate comfort food. His advice: "Be patient when cooking mafé. Let the stew simmer slowly until the oil rises to the surface." Creamy peanut butter adds body and nuttiness to this savory chicken dish, balancing the aromatic ginger, garlic, and tomato paste. Thiam's version uses fish sauce, which brings a subtle umami that adds complexity to the stew.

Active Time:
50 mins
Marinate Time:
3 hrs
Total Time:
5 hrs
4 to 6


  • 3 medium garlic cloves, finely chopped

  • 1 tablespoon peeled and finely chopped fresh ginger

  • Pinch of kosher salt, plus more to taste 

  • Pinch of black pepper

  • 1 pound bone-in chicken thighs, skin removed

  • 1 pound chicken drumsticks, skin removed

  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil

  • 1 small yellow onion, chopped

  • 1 (6-ounce) can tomato paste

  • ¼ cup fish sauce (such as Red Boat) 

  • 7 cups water

  • 1 cup unsweetened creamy peanut butter (such as Smucker's Natural Creamy Peanut Butter), well stirred

  • 8 ounces green cabbage, cored and cut into 2-inch wedges

  • 3 medium carrots, cut into 2-inch-long pieces

  • 2 medium Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 ½ -inch pieces

  • 1 medium-size sweet potato, peeled and cut into 1 ½ -inch pieces

  • Sliced fresh Scotch bonnet chiles, to taste (optional)

  • Cooked white rice, for serving


  1. Stir together garlic, ginger, salt, and black pepper in a large bowl. Add chicken; press garlic mixture into chicken pieces. Cover with plastic wrap; refrigerate at least 3 hours or up to 12 hours.

  2. Heat oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high until oil shimmers. Add onion; cook, stirring often, until onion starts to become translucent, about 3 minutes. Stir in tomato paste and fish sauce. Cook, stirring constantly, until combined and tomato paste caramelizes and turns a few shades darker, 6 to 8 minutes. Add 7 cups water, scraping up any browned bits from bottom of Dutch oven. Add chicken and any remaining garlic mixture in bowl to Dutch oven. Bring to a boil over high. Reduce heat to medium-low.

  3. Place peanut butter in a medium-size heatproof bowl; stir in 1 1/2 cups liquid from Dutch oven, 1/4 cup at a time, until peanut butter is thinned out and mixture is creamy. Add to mixture in Dutch oven; bring to a vigorous simmer over medium-low. Simmer, undisturbed, 20 minutes.

  4. Stir cabbage and carrots into mixture in Dutch oven; return to a vigorous simmer over medium-low. Simmer, undisturbed, 10 minutes.

  5. Stir potato and sweet potato pieces into mixture in Dutch oven; return to a vigorous simmer over medium-low. Simmer, undisturbed, until chicken and vegetables are tender and oil has separated from thickened sauce, 30 to 35 minutes. Remove from heat; stir in Scotch bonnet chiles, if using, and season with salt to taste. Serve over rice.

    Poulet Mafe
    Photo by Victor Protasio / Food Styling by Torie Cox / Prop Styling by Audrey Davis

Make Ahead

Poulet mafé can be made up to 3 days ahead and stored in an airtight container in refrigerator. Reheat gently before serving.

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