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Andalusian recipes, travel, and design

Tag: Chicken

Lemon Honey-Mustard Chicken Thighs

Inspiration can come from anything. Anything at all.

I’m such a reluctant planner, and oftentimes I have hardly any patience in the kitchen. I want to get in and out as quickly as possible. Sort of contradictory, as I love to cook and it relaxes me and makes me lose myself in creative thought.

But lately, with everything that we have going on, including an imminent move, it’s hard to concentrate for too long. Plus, I’m trying to prove to my father that he too can make all these dishes I’m making for us. They really are that easy and simple to make. We’ll see if I am actually successful in my endeavours and he’ll cook for himself…

So the other day, I made this chicken dish which couldn’t be easier to put together and make. I had leftover dressing from a salad (which I’ll share soon) and decided that was the going to be the flavour of the day! Instant inspiration! It includes a slight modification from the salad dressing with the addition of butter and honey to add a little bit of depth. And it uses ingredients that probably most of you regularly have on hand.

Simple. Easy. Quick. Delicious. Father Approved! No planning required. Keeper!

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Spring with Kiko {Chicken a l’Orange + Patatas a lo Pobre}

“Hi little guy. Are you walking your mistress?” asked our friendly neighbour who was raking leaves and preparing his garden for the summer season ahead. Kiko and I were walking by, with the little guy rather dragging me down the hill behind him. (By the way being called mistress was fairly enchanting especially since I’ve been reading the Outlander series, whose story takes place in the 18th century.)

Kiko is my parent’s mini schnauzer. He’s a very affable little thing, although quite prone to being fearful of people. On the other hand, he loves other dogs. Being rather small doesn’t stop him from wanting to greet, sniff and play with all the hounds we encounter on our walks, no matter how large they are. And while he’s generally fun and loving, he is also stubborn. When he digs in his hind legs, there’s no budging him until he gets what he wants, which in most cases is just a stop for him to bury his nose in the ground and mark his territory. Marking his territory takes place what seems like every two seconds though.

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Chicken Masala

I am not passionate about the Indian cuisine; in fact, there are only a few dishes that I truly enjoy, and mostly have to be without much chili. Of course, I opine like this without ever having set foot on the Indian sub-continent… maybe a trip to India would change my mind and taste buds… In the meantime, tikka masala or chicken masala is one dish that I do like to order when going out. And it so happens that this dish is almost considered part of the national British cuisine! When eating out however, I’m always weary of the sauce and what is used to thicken it. Additionally, it’s invariably served with rice.


So when I saw a version by The Urban Poser for a masala side dish, I knew I had to try it. What I’ve created below is an adaptation of Jenni’s recipe.

The unique component is the method of cooking the cauliflower “rice”, which makes the vegetable crunchy instead of mushy. My husband is not a fan of cauliflower “rice” and the only way I’ve enjoyed it before is as fried “rice”. However, after eating this, my husband was very complimentary and said he had not even noticed it was cauliflower at all!


That’s quite a positive comment coming from his very critical palate!


I created my own mixture of Garam Masala spices, based primarily on the recipe Jenni recommends, and added a few other spices of my own. You can, of course, simply substitute for a ready-made Garam Masala mix. The chili, I added separately in order to control the spiciness to my preference. Feel free to add more or less chili, depending on your taste.


Also, I would recommend using dark chicken meat instead for a tastier and more moist version of this dish. I just didn’t have any on hand.


(These last photos are the progression of the cauliflower cooking, so you can see the colour transformation.)


Chicken Masala
Recipe Type: Main
Cuisine: Indian
Author: The Saffron Girl
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 2-3
  • 500g chicken breasts, washed and cut into bite-size pieces (if you prefer to use dark meat, it’s tastier)
  • 1 large red onion, finely chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons green paprika pepper, chopped or julienne
  • 3 medium carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 2 medium zucchini, partially peeled and chopped
  • 3 teaspoons Garam Masala, from the mixture below*
  • coarse sea salt, to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1 medium head cauliflower
  • lard
  • butter
  • fresh cilantro
  • For the Garam Masala:
  • 1 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1 teaspoon coriander seeds
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
  1. Mix the spices for the Garam Masala and set aside.
  2. Clean the cauliflower and cut into large florets. “Rice” with a food processor. Set aside.
  3. In a wok or large shallow pan, melt about 2 tablespoons of lard.
  4. Cook the chicken pieces until done, about 10 minutes, stirring frequently to brown on all sides. Remove from pan when done and set aside.
  5. In the same pan over high heat, melt about 2 tablespoons of butter or oil of preference.
  6. Immediately add the “riced” cauliflower and spread evenly over the bottom of the pan.
  7. Allow the cauliflower to fry until it starts to brown a bit, then stir it around, again spreading into an even layer on the bottom of the pan. Repeat a few times until the cauliflower starts to get brown and with slightly black flecks all over it. Remove from heat and transfer to a separate dish. Set aside.
  8. Again in the same pan, add another tablespoon or a bit more of butter and melt over low heat.
  9. Add the onion, garlic and pepper and sauté until the onion pieces are translucent.
  10. Add the carrots and zucchini and stir fry until “al-dente” or to your liking.
  11. Add 3 teaspoons of the Garam Masala mix, sea salt (to taste) and the chili powder. Stir well and cook about 1 minute.
  12. Add the chicken pieces and mix well.
  13. Add the 1/3 cup water and mix well. Cook until the water has evaporated, but a bit of sauce is left.
  14. Turn off the heat and add the “riced” cauliflower. Mix well.
  15. Serve immediately and garnish with freshly chopped cilantro.


Puchero, Spanish Bone Broth & Egg Drop Soup

Growing up, I used to hate eating puchero or bone broth soup. I found it dull and boring, except for its slightly more special version as “sopa de picadillo”, which is with bits of jamon serrano, diced hard-boiled eggs, rice and maybe a tomato.

Later when we would go on the yearly El Rocio pilgrimage, for some odd reason, I loved a hot cup of “caldo” (broth) especially in the early mornings before eating breakfast. It was always chilly out as we started our journey each day around dawn and there was usually no time to eat a proper breakfast before the entire hermandad (brotherhood) would get the horses, mules and carriages ready for the camino (road). Caldo is something we have around all day during El Rocio pilgrimage, drinking a cup or glass at any time. It actually “does a body good” and as the Spaniards say is a “reconstituyente”, providing strength and adding needed protein, gelatin, salts and warmth.


Of course, back then I didn’t realise the goodness in each cup of puchero/caldo/bone broth as I do today. Now I not only appreciate it, but make it frequently to drink alone, use as the base for a soup or for the dough of Spanish croquetas. As soon as you eat a few spoonfuls, you start to feel the energy pumping into your body! 😉


The recipe I’m sharing with you today is simple. And you can alter it depending on the bones you have available or want to use. I particularly like using jamon serrano bones or pork bones with chicken meat and bones. It makes for a clear broth that is very tasty. But you can substitute for beef, lamb or a combination of all. It’s up to you. I also added two knobs of kelp seaweed to add iodine to the soup. It’s important to get enough iodine in our diets to ensure proper thyroid function. As we are using more and more sea salt or Himalayan rock salt in Paleo cooking, we are not always getting enough iodine as when we used iodized table salt.


Jamon serrano bones provide a special flavour; however, if you don’t have access to jamon serrano, you could try asking in a specialty shop if they’ll sell you the bones after the jamon is done. Or if you’re up to it, give a good jamon serrano a try, by buying the whole leg and eating it at home like Spaniards do!

A good brand to buy is 5J’s; it can be more expensive, but the quality has never disappointed us. It’s so deliciously balanced, almost sweet to the palate and melts in your mouth. Ahhh.. I think it’s time to buy another one again in Spain! 😉

Jamon Serrano can be made with the back legs (jamon) or front legs (paleta/paletilla) of white pigs or the Black Iberian pig, which is an endemic species from southern Spain and Portugal. The best jamon comes from the Black Iberian pigs, especially if it’s fed only acorns. I recommend giving this one a try!

The cooking times for puchero/bone broth can vary. I let mine simmer about 6 hours on the first day and then another 4 hours on the second day. You don’t need to do that; but if you do, you must keep adding water, as it evaporates, and adjust for salt. You can also make the broth in a few hours and use the same day. But the longer you simmer, the more intense flavour and the more nutrients you will get out of the bones and ingredients.

Buen Provecho.

Puchero, Spanish Bone Broth & Egg Drop Soup
Cuisine: Spanish
Author: The Saffron Girl
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
  • 1-2 ham hock or large piece of jamon serrano bone with meat on it
  • 3 chicken breasts or 4-5 pieces of chicken on the bone, whichever you have
  • 2 medium onions, peeled and cut in halves
  • 3-4 cloves garlic, peeled and whole
  • juice of one lemon (optional)
  • 3-4 carrots, cut into large chunks (no need to peel unless you want to eat them later)
  • 3 stalks celery, cut into large pieces
  • 2 knobs kelp
  • sea salt, to taste
  • filtered water
  • For the egg drop soup:
  • 1 beaten egg per person
  1. In a large pot, place all of the ingredients (except the egg) and add enough water to fill about 3/4 full.
  2. Place over medium heat and bring to a soft boil.
  3. Reduce heat and simmer for 6-8 hours, adding water as necessary.
  4. Also remember to skim the ugly fat that comes to the top every once in a while, for a clearer and nicer broth.
  5. You can freeze the broth in small containers to use at a later date or you can immediately drink it, use as a soup or base for another recipe.
  6. Here, I’ve eaten it as an egg drop soup with 1 minced, chicken breast, some carrot pieces and a beaten egg.
  7. For the egg drop:
  8. Bring some of the broth to a boil in a small saucepan.
  9. Beat the egg, and slow pour it into the boiling broth, while stirring with a fork to create the stringy appearance.

Chicken Curry, Karlos Arguiñano

When I lived in Spain, I used to watch the Karlos Arguiñano cookery show on TV. He’s what we now call a celebrity chef. Karlos is from the Basque Country; and although he owns a few restaurants and has many cookery books out, he continues to participate in TV shows and collaborate with many magazines. He’s a lot of fun to watch, and apparently is really “down to earth”, according to a friend of mine who has had the pleasure of meeting him in person.


Whenever I’m in Spain, I like to get as many foodie magazines as possible for inspiration for new dishes. Oftentimes though, I bring them home and then forget about them…so as I was doing some cleaning the other day, I found one of these weekly collectibles in Karlos’ series.


This recipe is an adaptation of his version of curry. Additionally, I’ve created my own curry powder mix.

Chicken Curry, Karlos Arguiñano
Recipe Type: Main
Cuisine: Spanish-Indian
Author: The Saffron Girl
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 2-3
Serves 2-3.
  • 1.5 kg chicken pieces (I used thighs and legs)
  • 2 medium onions, chopped
  • 3-4 medium carrots, chopped
  • 4-5 garlic cloves, sliced
  • 1 paprika pepper, sliced (I used yellow, but any colour will do)
  • 2 tablespoons curry mixture*
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 3/4-1 cup water
  • coconut oil
  • coarse sea salt
  • *For the homemade curry mixture:
  • Mix together the following:
  • 2 tablespoons ground cumin
  • 2 tablespoons ground coriander
  • 1 tablespoon ground fennel
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground mustard
  1. In a large pot, brown the chicken in some coconut oil or lard.
  2. In the meantime, in a saucepan over low heat, with some coconut oil or lard, poach the vegetables (onion, carrots, garlic, and pepper).
  3. When the vegetables are soft, set aside to cool slightly.
  4. Puree them with an immersion blender or food processor.
  5. Season with salt, to taste. Set aside.
  6. Once the chicken is browned on all sides, add the wine, water and curry mixture.
  7. Cook on low heat/simmer for 35-40 minutes until the chicken is done.
  8. Add the vegetable puree and cook an additional 5 minutes.
  9. Serve immediately.
  10. *For the spice mixture: if you do not have ground spices, simply use a coffee grinder to grind up the seeds.


Pollo al Ajillo (Garlic Chicken)

This dish is a favourite amongst many of my friends who grew up in Spain. There are a number of variations, just like with any traditional dish that is typically made at home.


We have a wide repertoire of “al ajillo” dishes in Spain and you can generally find one or two on restaurant and bar menus; the most popular are “gambas al ajillo” and “pollo al ajillo”.


It’s a simple, easy and delicious recipe that I hope you will make often at home. Serve with some sweet potato (or turnip) fries and sprinkle with freshly chopped parsley or cilantro for extra flavour.


Pollo al Ajillo (Garlic Chicken)
Recipe Type: Main
Cuisine: Spanish
Author: The Saffron Girl
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 3-4
Serves 3-4
  • 1.5 kg chicken pieces (I used legs)
  • 1 1/2 head of garlic, about 25 cloves, minced
  • juice of one lemon
  • 1 cup (250ml) white wine
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder (or more, if desired)
  • coarse sea salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • olive oil
  1. In a large, deep pan or wok, over low heat, pour about 3-4 tablespoons of olive oil.
  2. Add the chicken pieces and brown on all sides, about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  3. Add the wine, lemon juice, minced garlic and chili powder.
  4. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook for about 45 minutes, until the wine is reduced and the chicken pieces are cooked.
  5. About half way done, season with sea salt and pepper, to taste.


Chicken aux Herbes de Provence & Savoury Rhubarb

It’s rhubarb season and I’m embarking on using this colourful vegetable in savoury and sweet dishes. Its tangy or tart flavour makes for an interesting contrast, especially in this recipe.


To counterbalance the tanginess, I used sweet orange juice and orange pieces, plus I incorporated white potatoes. I know many of you on Paleo do not use the potato at all; however we do eat it occasionally. If you do not want to use it, another mild-flavoured tuber can be substituted.


The chicken comes out tender and juicy even with the longer cooking time due to the marinade. In fact, I ate the leftovers for breakfast the following day; and even after heating it up in the microwave (yes! horrible of me!), it was still not dry.


I hope you give it a try…and also embark on experimenting with this interesting vegetable.



Chicken aux Herbes de Provence & Savoury Rhubarb
Author: The Saffron Girl
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 2-3
Serves 2-3.
  • 1 kilo (approx. 2 lbs) chicken pieces (I used thighs)
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1 head garlic
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon coarse sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon black peppercorns
  • 2 tablespoons herbs de Provence
  • 1/3 cup orange juice, freshly squeesed
  • 1 whole orange, sliced thinly, reserve a few slices for garnishing
  • 3-4 large potatoes, peeled and cut into small pieces, or diced
  • 3 stalks rhubarb, rinsed and cut into 1 1/2 inch slices
  1. For the marinade, prepare the night before or early in the morning:
  2. Rinse the chicken pieces and set aside.
  3. Peel the garlic cloves; and using a mortar and pestle, ground all of them. (To make the task easier, I cut them in half lengthwise, so they do not “jump” out of the mortar, as I’m grinding with the pestle.)
  4. Add the sea salt and pepper and crack until small pieces are formed.
  5. Add the herbs, olive oil and orange juice and mix well. (If your mortar is not large enough, transfer to a bowl or plastic bag, which you’ll use later to store the chicken in the fridge for marination.)
  6. Transfer the chicken pieces to a plastic bag, large enough to hold all the pieces and the marinade.
  7. Pour the marinade into the bag as well, seal, and refrigerate overnight or for at least 4-5 hours.
  8. Cooking the dish:
  9. Preheat the oven to 180C (350F).
  10. Place the potato and rhubarb in an oven proof cooking dish.
  11. Place the chicken pieces on top of the vegetables.
  12. Pour the marinade over the chicken and the vegetables.
  13. Bake for 40-60 minutes, turning the chicken over occasionally, until the chicken is done and the potatoes are tender.
  14. About half way through, add the slices of orange, and continue cooking.


Paleo Chicken Tagine

I absolutely love, love, love Moroccan food. I think I first fell in love when I wasn’t even old enough to be aware of it on our family’s first trip to Morocco when I was a little child. And later, I had a French teacher in school, whose husband was Moroccan… I still remember the traditional dinner she prepared for us at home, which included mandarines in rose water as dessert, a sweet treat I’m still daydreaming about and haven’t yet figured out exactly what it was!


Strangely enough, I don’t have a proper Moroccan or Maghreb cookbook and should put that on my list to get… but I have a ton of printed recipes from the Internet. I always go to them for inspiration, although today I turned to a friend, Pedro, who’s Colesterol Sin Fronteras blog is full of Moroccan dishes, since he’s also passionate about this marvelous land, their food and culture.

And although we do eat white potatoes occasionally, I omitted it from this recipe and substituted other tubers that I had on hand, plus added some fennel, which provides a unique, anise-like flavour. (By the way, did you know that fennel is one of the primary ingredients of absinthe, the alcoholic drink made from botanicals that supposedly was the culprit of Vincent Van Gogh’s “madness”?)


Paleo Chicken Tagine
Recipe Type: Easy
Cuisine: Moroccan
Author: The Saffron Girl
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 2-4
  • 1kg chicken pieces (legs and/or thighs)
  • 1 lemon, washed and thinly sliced
  • 2 medium red onions, chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 small fennel, chopped
  • 2 carrots, in small chunks
  • 2 sweet potatoes, in small chunks
  • 1 parsnip, in small chunks
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/3 cup whole small olives
  • 1/4 cup fresh red pepper, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • sea salt, to taste
  • water
  1. In a deep and wide pot or a tagine clay pot, heat the olive oil over low heat.
  2. Add the onions and garlic and poach until soft.
  3. Add the chicken pieces and brown on all sides.
  4. Then add the pepper and lemon and cook about 3 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  5. Add the remaining ingredients and enough water to almost cover everything.
  6. Cook on low for 35-40 minutes, adding more water if necessary, and stirring occasionally. The remaining sauce should be thick.








Sesame Chicken with Zucchini Noodles

Okay, I feel compelled to share this recipe with you, my readers and friends. It’s not that I wanted to keep it a secret; but I thought that something so simple just wasn’t worth writing about, and most importantly, is it worthy of your attention? Additionally, I want to start producing better photography and the picture I took last night are really not impressive…but I’m eating this dish for lunch today, as leftovers from last night’s dinner, which I do all the time, and it smells so delicious and tastes so good… that yes, I’ve convinced myself it’s worth it. Of course, you’ll be the tougher judge of that yourselves…


Ingredients, for 4

  • 1 large zucchini per person, or 2 medium ones (I actually ate 2 large on my own with this dish)
  • 750g chicken breasts, cut into small pieces
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 medium onion, chopped, or julienne style
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped
  • 2 medium carrots, sliced
  • 1 large leek, sliced
  • gluten-free and sugar-free soy sauce (I use Sanchi Tamari Soy Sauce – some strict Paleo may prefer to omit this or use Coco Aminos instead)
  • olive oil (or additional sesame oil, if preferred)
  • sesame oil
  • sesame seeds
  • sea salt, to taste


  1. Preheat the oven to 150C or 300F.
  2. Wash and peel the zucchini. With a spiral vegetable slicer, create zucchini noodles. (I happen to still be using my little Vietnamese kitchen utensil that does the job perfectly, since I haven’t yet purchased a spiral slicer.)
  3. Place a piece of parchment on a cookie sheet, and spread the noodles out on the paper. Sprinkle some sea salt over them. Bake for about 25 minutes.
  4. When ready, remove from oven and allow to slightly cool. They should be “al-dente”.
In the meantime:
  1. Wash and prepare all of the vegetables and the chicken.
  2. In a wok over medium to low heat, add 3 tablespoons of olive oil. Add the onion and garlic and saute until the onion is translucent.
  3. Add the chicken pieces and brown on all sides, cooking about 15-20 minutes and stirring frequently.
  4. Add 1-2 tablespoons of sesame oil and add the remaining vegetables. Stir fry until the vegetables are “al-dente” or to the texture of your liking.
  5. Sprinkle with soy sauce (I used about 1 tablespoon soy sauce) and sea salt, to taste.
To serve:
In a bowl, place enough noodles to cover about half (again, about 1 or 2 large zucchini worth of noodles). Spoon the chicken mixture over top and sprinkle with sesame seeds. Serve immediately.

Chicken Pumpkin Goulash

We have a saying in Spain that says “mas busca un necesitado, que un abogado”, which means the person in needs will search more and do more than the lawyer…that’s sort of what happened to me today. I had put out chicken breasts for dinner and was going to make them an entirely different way, when I found myself with half a squash leftover from my pumpkin cheesecake experiment (more on that one later) and I didn’t want that to go to waste.

So, I decided to make a goulash and add the pumpkin to the stew. I thought I was rather creative, until I did a Google search and found out this seems like a regular recipe. Nonetheless, I made this goulash my way and it is delicious (humility aside of course)!


Ingredients, for 4:

  • 3 large chicken breasts, cut into large chunks
  • 2 medium onions, chopped or julienne
  • 3 cloves garlic, sliced
  • 2 tomatoes, peeled and cut into large pieces
  • 1 yellow or orange bell pepper, julienne
  • 1 large aubergine, partially peeled and cut into large chunks
  • 1 1/2 cups butternut squash meat or other pumpkin, pre-roasted
  • olive oil
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 1 tablespoon pimenton
  • 1 teaspoon thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon oregano
  • sea salt and pepper, to taste
  • water


In a large pot, over medium heat, place 1/4 cup of olive oil and the chicken pieces. Brown the chicken. Add the onions and garlic and cook for about 10 minutes, or until the onions are translucent. Add the tomatoes and bell pepper and cook another 3-4 minutes.

Add the white wine and spices and stir. Add about 2 cups of water and simmer for 10 minutes. Add the aubergines and simmer another 10 minutes. Then add the pumpkin and cook 5 more minutes. Season to taste, and serve.





Macau & African Chicken (Galinha a Africana)

On our recent trip to Vietnam, we had a day layover in Hong Kong on the way over and about a 12-hour layover on the way back. So, we took advantage of the time to visit with some friends who live in the area and to do a bit of sight-seeing. This is my second time in Asia and also my second time visiting both HK and Macau. The contrasts I observe I think will never cease to amaze me.

On the ferry from Kowloon to Mainland Macau

After landing in Hong Kong, we took the express train straight into Kowloon, where we had booked a hotel for the evening. We checked in, freshened up and headed for the ferry terminal. By the way on a side note, I still had my Octopus Card from about 6 years ago and it worked. The Octopus Card is like the Oyster Card in London, where you can top off as you go and use it for all the underground, busses and some ferries as well. However, one cannot use it for the ferry to Macau, or at least, we don’t think so.

Arriving in Macau

Arriving in Macau… first casinos are visible from the ferry

The journey over is about an hour from Kowloon to Macau. We learned, that since our last visit, there are new ferry lines now going to Taipa as well. Taipa is one of the two islands that along with the Mainland Macau make up this special administrative region. China took over Macau in 1999, after more than 400 years of Portuguese rule. One would think that after such a long time, more Macanese would speak Portuguese, after all it’s one of the official languages, it is still used in government buildings and all signs are in Portuguese, as well as Chinese. Yet, that’s not really the case. I had noticed this on my first visit here, and was again aware of this disparity when trying to communicate to the locals.

Our friend Mary, a Macanese, however speaks multiple languages, one of them being Portuguese. Mary picked us up at the Macau ferry terminal and we headed over one of the long bridges joining the region to Taipa to see the University of Macau, where my husband and she had studied about 12 years ago. The University, which will soon be transferred to mainland China, is located in a modern building on a hill. Most of Macau is made up of hills. And curiously one drives on the left here, just like in Hong Kong (in mainland China and Portugal, one drives on the right). From what we learned it seems that the reasons for this are purely economical rather than historical or cultural, since all cars are imported from Hong Kong.

Waterfront street near the Plaza of Sao Francisco Xavier

Same waterfront street

After a quick zip through the area, we headed over to Coloane, the second island, now joined to Taipa via a landfill. Coloane is also being colonized today, but in a new way. The region’s newest and largest casinos are prominently welcoming the visitor on what is the land-filled area, now called the Cotai Strip. In Coloane, one can still see vestiges of a Portuguese past in a laid back atmosphere, which is relaxing and inviting. It’s almost like stepping back in time. In fact, in the older areas of Macau, one feels like one is no longer in Asia (until the oppressive humidity and heat remind you otherwise) but somewhere on the streets of Lisbon or another part of Portugal. It’s truly a beautiful contrast.

Sao Francisco Xavier church and plaza

We parked along the water front, facing what is mainland China. Yet another contrast. It’s hard to imagine that across what seems like a little pond lies the big giant of the north and yet mainland Chinese are not allowed into Macau without special permission. Macau will remain a special administrative region until 2050, when it should be fully integrated into the rest of the country. And although that is not that far away, it is hard to fathom what type of changes could come about after integration, some maybe not so welcome.

Mary took us to the plaza of Sao Francisco Xavier, which is lined with Chinese restaurants on one side and Portuguese restaurants on the other. We chose a Portuguese one, facing the little church of Sao Francisco Xavier, where we enjoyed some traditional Macanese dishes, such as Bacalhau a Braz, Bok Choi in some special sauce (can’t recall) and African Chicken.  The three dishes are perhaps more symbolic than one would think at first. And they represent Macau’s history perfectly, which is a mixture of the Portuguese heritage, the Chinese roots and the influences of immigrants brought to China by the Portuguese, such as the African slaves.

Menu at the restaurant where we ate

Bacalhau a Braz and Bok Choi & Steamed Vegetables

African Chicken

Restaurant, where we ate

Part of the Plaza of Sao Francisco Xavier

After a delectable lunch, during which Mary had to rush off to get back to work, we strolled through the old parts of the village and then hopped on a bus to get back to Cotai, where we wanted to see what the Macanese version of the Venetian looks like (after all, one cannot come to Macau without visiting a casino, right?). The region’s economy is based on the gaming and tourism industries and it’s very quickly becoming the Las Vegas of Asia, with revenues tripling  those of its American counterpart.

Street in Coloane

Things we saw in Coloane

The Venetian and the other casinos on the Cotai Strip provide free shuttle busses to their sister casinos on Mainland Macau. So, we took advantage of this and went to the Sands casino, which is located across from the new shopping and recreation complex that is being built near the ferry terminal. The complex, when completed, will be amazing with stores, theaters, restaurants and attractions. Mary met us here again in the afternoon and whisked us away to tour the rest of the city. We went up Guia hill for a beautiful view of the city below.

Guia Lighthouse and Chapel – see the wedding couple being photographed?

View of Mainland Macau from the Guia Fortress

The Guia Fortress lighthouse and little chapel are a UNESCO World Heritage Site, as is the historical center of Macau. The fort and the chapel were built in the 1600s, with the lighthouse being constructed much later between 1864-65. It’s the first western style lighthouse to be built in east Asia. We were joined on our tour by couples taking their wedding pictures at the fort. It seems like it was the season for weddings on this trip, as I also witnessed many couples taking their wedding pictures, while in Ha Noi. 😉

One of the Portuguese colonial mansions in Mainland Macau

Garden in Mainland Macau

Commemorative plaque at the entrance of the gardens

The Macau Venetian casino, inside

Inside the Venetian

Chinese Pavilion & Koi Pond, part of the new shopping & entertainment complex

After our quick tour, as we needed to get back for dinner with other friends, we bid farewell to Mary and Macau, and boarded the ferry back to Hong Kong.

My African Chicken – Mi Galinha a Africana


For the original recipe, click here.


  • 1.5-2 kilos of chicken pieces or whole chicken, cut into pieces (I purchased drumsticks, as that’s all I found at Tesco’s)

For the Marinade:

  • 1 teaspoon chili powder (more or less according to how spicy you would like this; I for example didn’t use any)
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon pimenton (or paprika if you don’t have it)
  • 2 teaspoons Chinese 5-spice powder (a mixture of star anise, cinnamon, fennel, black pepper and cloves)
For the Sauce:
  • olive oil
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup garlic, minced (it’s about 1 head of garlic)
  • 1/4 cup sweet paprika
  • 1/4 cup pimenton
  • 3/4 cup grated coconut
  • 1/2 cup raw cashews (the original recipe calls for 2 tablespoons of peanut butter, as the peanuts are originally an African legume; feel free to substitute)
  • 1 1/2 cups water or chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup full fat coconut milk
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric

Chicken marinating

The night before, marinate the chicken pieces: mix all of the ingredients for the marinade together and rub into chicken. Place the chicken in a bowl or dish and cover with plastic wrap. Let the chicken marinate overnight. (The fridge will smell delicious every time you open it!)
Make the sauce:
1. Over medium heat, heat a few tablespoons of olive oil. When the oil is hot, add the raw cashews. Slightly brown and remove from heat. Scoop out the cashews with as little oil as possible and place in a mortar. With the pestle grind them finely. Set aside.

Ground cashew (pimenton from Spain in the background)

2. Heat about 1/4 cup olive oil in a saucepan or wok over medium to medium-low heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook until softened, about 5 minutes, stirring often so the garlic will not burn. Add the paprika, pimenton, coconut and turmeric and cook for another few minutes. Add the chicken broth or water, coconut milk, bay leaves and ground cashews. Simmer for 10 minutes over low heat. Remove the bay leaves. (The sauce can be made ahead of time, just warm up before finishing the dish.)
To Finish the Dish:
Preheat oven to 200C (about 400F). In a wok or large skillet, heat a few tablespoons of olive oil over medium to medium-high heat. Brown the chicken pieces on all sides. Once browned, transfer the chicken to an oven-proof dish and cover with the sauce. Bake for about 30 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked and the sauce is bubbly.
Traditionally, this dish is served with rice. However, I served it with a “salad” of quinoa, pomegranate and wild rocket leaves.

Ready to be served…

…and ready to be eaten… 😉

Quinoa, pomegranate and wild rocket “salad”

Garlic Chicken with Rosemary & Turmeric

This is a vampire-proof recipe ;)… also one so easy to make, that if you are running late for dinner, it can be made in a jiffy.
I’ve just returned from a week-long trip to Germany, so elaborate dishes are not in the works right now. We once again drove through the Chunnel (Phew that’s two safe round-trips! For someone who hates tunnels and bridges, that’s quite a feat). And we had a great trip with excellent weather. I even got to try out my dexterity by driving a manual, British car (translated, that means the driver’s wheel on the right and shifting with one’s left hand) on Continental roads! Okay, so maybe that was even more of a feat than the Chunnel crossing…mind you, I didn’t dare venture too far…but more about that adventure in another posting.
So as I’m still in the process of organising and doing laundry, dinner tonight was a quick fix. But still a healthy one, nonetheless. (And I say it’s vampire-proof because it’s full of garlic!)
Garlic Chicken with Rosemary & Turmeric
Ingredients, for 2-3
  • 500g chicken breasts, cut into large chunks
  • 6-7 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons ground rosemary
  • 2 teaspoons turmeric (curcuma)
  • sea salt and pepper, to taste
  • 4-5 tablespoons olive oil (I’m generous with olive oil in my cooking, so feel free to adapt to your style)
Preheat oven to 190C. In an oven-proof dish, place all the ingredients and toss until chicken is well coated. Bake for 15-20 minutes, stirring once or twice so that the chicken cooks evenly.
Serve with your favourite side dish. We ate ours with steamed broccoli, over which I poured some of the sauce from the chicken.