Pasted chicken? Pasted in what? I asked.
Well, it is pasted in odii (a roasted groundnut/simsim paste), I was told. I had never appreciated food pairings until recently when I learnt that in the catering curriculum, it is a whole course on its own – a food engineering artistry that takes years of tries and fails before the final outcome.
So, however odd the chicken in odii sounded or even looked (the chicken looked like it didn’t belong there), I was determined to try it. I was doing Acholi food this time.
Odii can add the magical taste to bread, beans, rice, matoke – nearly everything it is paired with. But it was at Malakwang restaurant at Ntinda New Market - Stretcher, where for the first time, I learnt that chicken can be cooked with groundnut paste and turns out great.
The characteristic aroma and bitter-sweet taste of odii was not lost in this pairing, and neither was the sweet and sinewy taste of local chicken. The chicken is roasted first and then half cooked on its own before it is fully cooked with the paste. Strangely the paste never goes beyond the chicken skin into the meat, yet you will notice in the taste that they were cooked together.
The pairing is served with matoke, rice, potatoes and millet bread (kalo). Oh, how well the matoke blended in the thick melting odii paste in my mouth! Now, if the ‘non-traditional’ Acholi foods taste so good with the chicken paste, how about the real Acholi kalo? The taste was heavenly.
I am known for eating really small portions of food, but ended up eating more than usual. It is one of those irresistible meals you eat more of, even when you are feeling full already.
Malakwang restaurant is a typical kafunda-style restaurant, but in its remote (but clean) space, it guarantees the diner the freedom to dig into the food with bare hands and even ‘kuwuuta supu’ (sip on your soup) straight from the plate without raising any judgmental glances from fellow diners.
And above all, it comes on the cheap; their most pricey plate costs Shs 10,000.