The Xinxim Chicken (Xinxim de Galinha)

Xinxim chicken is a traditional Brazilian dish of african origin from the Bahia state: this dish was imported to Brazil from the african slaves in the colonial period. Back then it was served only to the poor, working the plantations, and ironically today it is one of the most coveted dishes of the Brazilian cuisine. Dried shrimp can be bought at asian products stores, if hard to find locally.

Yield: 4-6 servings
Marinate: 1 hour
Total time:

Xinxim chicken recipe

* 2 and 1/2 lb. (1 kg.) chicken, or equivalent weight of boneless chicken meat
* 250 g dried, peeled and ground shrimp (optional)
* 1/2 cup and ground roasted peanuts
* 1/2 cup cashew nuts
* 1/2 cup of dendê (palm oil)
* 4 tablespoons of lemon juice
* 5 tablespoons tomato paste
* 1 tablespoon ginger, grated
* 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
* 4 cloves garlic, peeled
* 1 red hot chili pepper, chopped (optional)
* 1 small bunch fresh cilantro, chopped
* 2 large onions, chopped
* 1 cup of coconut milk
* Tapioca starch, as needed
* Salt to taste


1) Clean the chicken and cut out the bad fatty parts. Cut the chicken in separate parts by slicing it at its joints with a very sharp knife: put the parts in a large bowl. Pour in the lemon juice, press in the garlic, season with pepper and salt, toss to coat the chicken well. Refrigerate, covered, to marinate everything during 1 hour or more.

2) Afer this, pour the dendê in a large pot, warm it up and saute the chicken pieces in the oil for about 20 minutes, or the time it takes to cook the chicken flesh to about 75% of well done.

3) Using a blender we will now prepare the special seasoning for this dish: to the bowl of your blender put the cilantro, the onions, the nuts, peanuts and ginger, the tomato paste, and, lastly also add the shrimp (if you decided to include them in your dish). Blend to turn all these ingredients to a paste.

4) Pour this paste in the pot with the chicken; add some water if not liquid enough. Simmer over medium heat until the chicken is tender. Pour the coconut milk in, add in the chopped pepper and cook 20 minutes longer. The sauce should be on the thick side; if too liquid add a few teaspoons of tapioca starch (previously dissolved in a little cold water). Your Xinxim chicken is ready when the sauce has the desired thickness and is fragrant.

Usually presented with white rice and farofa...

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