West African Chicken Stew (Paleo, Whole30)

This paleo and Whole30 friendly West African chicken stew recipe is from Well Fed 2 cookbook by Melissa Joulwan. It’s creamy, hearty and very satiating.

West African Chicken Stew (From Well Fed 2)
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West African Chicken Stew

Forget the dinner plan you had for tonight. Get some chicken thighs and all of the below ingredients and make yourself this rich, hearty, spicy, warm chicken stew.

The recipe comes from Melissa Joulwan’s cookbook Well Fed 2 and she personally recommended that I make this first. I am so glad she did because not only did we demolish it with loud nom nom noises but I also learnt a new little cooking trick.

A few notes on Well Fed 2 and Melissa’s cooking in general.  I believe that our taste buds were separated at birth. When I look through the recipes in her book – Moo Shu Pork, BBQ Beef  ‘Waffle’ Sandwich, Plantain Nachos, Better Butter, over 15 types of meatballs, bangers and burgers, Lizard Sauce and Pear & Bacon Bites – I think that it’s exactly what I love to eat and how I would cook.

Well Fed 2 Cookbook by Melissa Joulwan
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Melissa is not big on sweets and neither am I, but there are so many multicultural flavours and interesting food combinations that even the sweetest of teeth people will get distracted by her savoury creations. All recipes are Whole30 compliant and would be perfect for anyone avoiding sugar, gluten, grains, dairy and legumes. Each recipe comes with a little story about its origin or ingredients or Melissa’s connection to it – she is a great writer as well as a great cook. I am sure you will be eager to check it out once you try her West African Chicken Stew. You can buy the book on Amazon here and you can find out more about it on Melissa’s website, where you can discover many more of her tasty dishes. And, as you might have guessed, there is a Well Fed book part one.

Recipe Tips

The recipe below is slightly adapted from the original as I had to replace sunflower butter with cashew butter and I’ve added a couple of other spices as I didn’t have cayenne pepper on hand. Cashew or sunflower butter will really thicken the stew making it super rich and creamy.

Paleo West African Chicken Stew
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More Chicken Stews & Curries

Full Recipe 

Find the full list of ingredients, instructions, and a nutritional breakdown below. If you have questions or cook this recipe, please let me know in the comments, and make sure to rate this recipe so it’s easy for others to find.

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West African Chicken Stew (From Well Fed 2)
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West African Chicken Stew (From Well Fed 2)

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 55 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 10 minutes
Author: Melissa Joulwan
Servings: 3
Course: Main
Cuisine: African
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4 from 1 vote
Calories: 340kcal
This paleo and Whole30 friendly West African chicken stew recipe is from Well Fed 2 cookbook by Melissa Joulwan. It's creamy, hearty and very satiating.


  • 1/2 tablespoon coconut oil
  • 4 chicken thighs skinless
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 medium onion diced (about 1/2 cup)
  • 1- inch piece of fresh ginger grated (about 1 tbsp)
  • 3 cloves garlic finely diced or minced (about 1 tbsp)
  • 1/2 tablespoon ground coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground chilli
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 cloves
  • 400 g crushed tomatoes 1.5 cups or 1 can tinned tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2.5 tablespoons cashew butter 1/4 cup sunflower butter in the original recipe, but I didn't have any
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract


  • Cut each chicken thigh into 4-5 pieces and season generously with salt and pepper. Heat a large saucepan, casserole dish or a deep frying pan over medium-high heat and melt the coconut oil. Add chicken pieces and brown well on both sides, about 4-5 minutes on each side. Remove the chicken to a bowl, including all the juices.
  • In the same saucepan, cook the onion and ginger for about 5-6 minutes on low/medium heat. Add garlic, coriander, paprika, chilli, bay leave and cloves and cook for about 30 seconds to release the aromas. Add tomatoes and water and stir to combine. Add the chicken pieces back in, together with the juices, stir and increase the heat to bring the pot to boil. Then reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for 25 minutes with the lid on.
  • In the original recipe, you will remove the chicken from the pot after 25 minutes, but I missed that step so I added the cashew or sunflower butter and vanilla to the pot with the chicken in it and mixed to combine and dissolve. Otherwise, you would have to add the chicken back in after you've added the butter and vanilla. My way worked just fine as well. Stir and cook all together for a few more minutes, uncovered. Taste for seasoning and add a generous pinch of salt if you wish... I did. Sprinkle with fresh parsley or chopped spring onion and extra sunflower or pumpkin seeds.
  • We served this stew with a side of pan-fried silver beet/chard, green beans, zucchini and carrots.


Calories: 340kcal | Carbohydrates: 17g | Protein: 34g | Fat: 16g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g | Monounsaturated Fat: 6g | Trans Fat: 0.03g | Cholesterol: 143mg | Sodium: 320mg | Potassium: 901mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 7g | Vitamin A: 591IU | Vitamin C: 15mg | Calcium: 84mg | Iron: 4mg
Keywords: Paleo, Whole30, Stew, Chicken Stew, West African, African Recipes
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West African Chicken Stew (From Well Fed 2, Paleo, Whole30) | #paleo #whole30 #chicken #stew #african #recipes #paleorecipes #chickenthighs
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Irena Macri
By Irena Macri

About the author: Hi, I’m Irena Macri. I share delicious recipes that I have cooked and loved. I am a published cookbook author, have been food blogging for over 10 years and have a Diploma in Nutrition. You will find many healthy recipes as well as my favourite comfort food. More about me here | Subscribe to my newsletter and freebies

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  1. looks awesome. I know what’s on the menu tonight!
    can you clarify something for me. I’ve been somewhat relaxed paleo for a while now but of late I’ve become a little more strict and I’ve read something very distressing to me. cashews arent paleo!! is this true? the argument I read against them was that they can not b eaten raw (and that even ‘raw’ ones have been cooked to a degree) as they are toxic to the body. I love cashews and it will feel like I’m losing a good friend If I say goodbye to them! haha please debunk this cashew argument! 🙂

    1. Hi Sheridan,

      As far as I know cashew is a nut just like other tree nuts. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cashew
      Like most other nuts it has quite a bit of phytic acid which can prevent mineral absorption so it’s best to soak them for 6-7 hours before using. You can then dehydrate them back down in the oven on very low heat or blend them into a smooth paste to thicken sauces with or to make a raw, dairy free cheesecake. Mark Sisson has a good little write up about cashews http://www.marksdailyapple.com/is-it-primal-8-foods-scrutinized/#axzz2n8Cpn5UM

      I think the problem is that people tend to buy roasted, salted cashews and gorge on them. A few nuts in s stir-fry or as part of a mixed nut snack is fine. It’s definitely fine if you soak them first, they do get quite soft though.

      I hope that somewhat debunks the cashew argument 🙂


      1. Aha! Yeah, I thought that was neat. The cashew butter was kind of overpowering in flavour, though. I made it again last night with less and that worked for me.

        Now I want to try the other nut butters my local IGA has too! 😉

    1. Hi, I want to cook this recipe but unfortunately have only
      Peanut Butter at home 😩
      May I use this instead cashew or sunflower butter?

  2. We had this stew for lunch this week 🙂
    I used almond butter instead of sunflower seed butter and no cayenne (my husband doesn’t like spicy food) and it was delicious. I served it with the coconut cauliflower rice, also in the book.

  3. I cannot describe how incredibly good this was. We had it over roasted butternut squash and it was lick the bowl clean (we literally had to tell the 7 year old…ok, AND the 37 year olds to get their faces out of their/our plates because we were getting stew in our hair).

    Used almond butter instead of cashew butter
    After adding the tomatoes, we pureed the veggies making for a really thick stew
    Added mushrooms
    Next time we will add carrots too


  4. Found this through chowstalker and gave it a try last night. Turned out delicious, and I can actually get almost all the ingredients here in rural Northern Laos. Thanks!

  5. Loved this recipe!! New family favourite. I used the leftover sauce as a marinade for drumsticks and cooked them in the oven. Mmmmmm

    1. Hi Katherine, most health foods stores would have different nut butters. I have even seen them in the health food sections of the big supermarkets. Or you can make your own by processing nuts in a food processor for 15-20 minutes until they start releasing oils and turn into a thick butter.

  6. Made this with chicken breast fillets because that was all I had at home, simmered for 15 minutes instead to prevent it from drying out and it came out wonderfully! The taste of ginger was fairly strong at first but then slowly the flavours all came together and balanced everything out. It was a dinner well enjoyed, thanks for the introduction to African cuisine 🙂

  7. It was ok. It was hard to cut the chicken thighs into pieces because of the bone — is it supposed to say boneless chicken thighs? — and I wasn’t sure which kind of ground chile to use. Perhaps my spices are old but I expected it to have more flavor. I used sunflower butter.

  8. Am I supposed to crush the bay leaves and mix them in the stew and serve or should I leave them in the stew until serving and remove them in the end?

    1. Leave them whole and remove before serving. If they do end up on someone’s plate, they can put them aside. They do look pretty in a dish 🙂

  9. 4 stars
    My family really enjoyed this. In addition to sprinkling the final stew with fresh parsley and pumpkin seeds, we added unsweetened coconut flakes and a few red chili flakes. All at the table agreed we will make again!

    1. Thanks, Jan. It’s a good one and I also really enjoy it. Love all the little garnishes you used on top. Irena

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