This aji de gallina recipe (pronounced a-hee de ga-yeena) is one of those dishes that visitors to Peru tend to remember the most. This spicy, creamy chicken dish is easy to prepare, and has a delicious warmth and depth of flavour from the unusual mix of ingredients. We urge you to try it – and bet you won’t be disappointed! The lovely colour comes from the classic Peruvian ingredient ‘aji amarillo‘ – the yellow chilli which is central to the country’s cuisine.
Gallina means ‘hen’ rather than chicken, and traditionally this dish is prepared with hen specifically which is similar to chicken but has a slightly firmer texture. Whilst you won’t find hen on the shelves at many supermarkets, independent butchers or Asian supermarkets will often stock it if you ask. Otherwise, it can be simply replaced by chicken!
- 2 chicken breasts or 4 hen breasts
- 5 tablespoons aji amarillo (yellow chilli) paste
- 5 cloves of garlic
- 2 large white onions, finely diced
- 12 slices of white bread
- 2 chicken stock cubes
- 3 tablespoons finely grated parmesan cheese
- 4 tbsp vegetable or olive oil
- 650g evaporated milk
- Salt and pepper to taste
- White rice, boiled
- 2 boiled eggs, deshelled
- 4 black olives
- In a large pan, boil the chicken or hen. A chicken will take around 20 minutes, but you can check if it’s tender and cooked throughout. If you’re using hen, slightly longer – just check that it’s tender.
- In a dish, tear the bread into small pieces, put it in the milk and leave to soak.
- When the meat is ready, keep a quarter cup of the stock, take it from the pan and shred it using a couple of forks. Set to one side.
- Using an electric blender, blend the bread and milk and set aside.
- In a frying pan, add the oil and once hot, the garlic and onion too. Once the onion has started to become transparent, add the yellow chilli paste and continue stirring until it’s all mixed.
- Add a cup of the water you used to cook the chicken to the pan, as well as the stock cubes. Stir well over a low heat until it’s all mixed through.
- Then add the bread and milk mixture as well as the parmesan cheese to the pan. Continue to stir over a low heat. You should now have a yummy, smooth, creamy sauce!
- Add the shredded meat to the sauce, and stir well until combined. Leave it to cook over a low heat for another 10-15 minutes, stirring regularly. Finally add salt and pepper to taste.
- Now we’re ready to plate up. First plate up a portion of rice, and then the aji de gallina. To decorate, top with half a boiled egg per portion and a black olive to garnish.