A few summers back, my husband and I went to South Africa for roughly a month. My husband had lived in Johannesburg and nearby cities for a couple of years and knew the area well. While we did some eating out in restaurants, we most often ate in the homes of locals—friends he had made while he lived there. We ate with people from all walks of life and many cultures, but one of the things I noticed about the food in general was its simplicity. We ate a lot of variations of chicken and rice, barbecue meat (Afrikaners call barbecue “Braai” (pronounced “br-eye”), and plenty of dried meat (biltong) as well. But one of the staples of South African food is chutney.
South Africans love their chutney. In case you don’t know what chutney is (I didn’t), it is essentially a relish of fruits or vegetables, herbs, and spices. It is often made fresh, but can be jarred like a jam as well. It usually has the consistency of a medium-thick, jammy sauce. There are so many variations of chutney that you will definitely find one you like if you give it a shot.
I found that the Zulu and Xhosa people in South Africa tended to use chutney as a dipping sauce, while the Afrikaners and English often make their chicken sticky by coating the meat in it before cooking (although Afrikaners certainly used it as a dipping sauce as well).
This recipe is a very simple and classic version of sticky chutney chicken, one of the most common meals for an Afrikaner family. The most famous chutney brand in South Africa is Mrs. HS Balls, and you can easily get it in the United States or online. The various chutney flavors are all delicious, but this particular recipe calls for the classic chutney. I got it straight off of the Mrs. Balls website, and then made a change or two to enhance flavor to my liking. It would delicious served with flavored rice, potatoes, vegetables, or all of them! One of the easiest meals you’ll make, and you’ll feel like you’re sitting down for dinner in Joburg.
South African Chutney Sticky Chicken
1 Tbsp olive oil
3/4-1 small onion, finely chopped
1-2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
9 Tbsp (a little over 1/2 cup) Mrs Ball’s Original Chutney
1 1/2 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
3-4 Tbsp mayonnaise
8 chicken thighs (with skin and bone); you could also use boneless, skinless thighs or 3 large chicken breasts but you won’t quite get the same flavor you will get with bone-in
*If possible, the night before you intend to make the dish (or even the morning before), season your chicken lightly with kosher salt. This will make the chicken more tender.
1. Heat oven to 400 degrees F.
2. While the oven is heating, heat oil over medium heat in a frying pan. Add onion and garlic. Cook until softened.
3. Stir in chutney, Worcestershire, and mayo. If you want to add more mayo, you can. I just don’t love the mayo as much as I like the chutney, so I don’t add too much.
4. Season to taste.
5. Arrange chicken pieces on a foil-lined sheet, sprayed with cooking spray, and spoon the chutney mixture over the chicken.
6. Bake for 40-45 min (if using bone-in) or 30-35 min if using boneless, until cooked through and sticky.
Serve with South African yellow rice with raisins (geetrys), potatoes, or vegetables.