If a Botswanan host cooks chicken for his guest, it is a sign of respect and special hospitality. Chicken in a Hole is a very popular chicken dish that requires it to be smoked slowly in a hole in the ground. It can be made with great (although not as good) results in a lidded braai or grille.
1 whole chicken
16 large cloves garlic, peeled and quartered lengthways
1 large onion, whole, peeled and studded with 6 whole cloves
12 cabbage leaves
1 chicken stock cube
1 tablespoon paprika
2 teaspoons mixed herbs
2 teaspoons curry powder
1 tablespoon dried chilie
1 tablespoon salt
2-3 tablespoons vinegar (for cleaning the chicken)
- Mix the vinegar with water in a bowl big enough to hold the chicken and clean the chicken. Pat dry.
- Push the garlic in between the skin and the flesh of the chicken, distributing it evenly.
- Place the chilies, spices, herbs and salt into a mortar and pestle and crush into a paste. Rub the spice mix all over the chicken, inside and outside to ensure an even coating.
- Stuff the onion into the cavity of the chicken.
- Wrap the cabbage leaves around the chicken and then wrap a cheesecloth or muslin over it. Wrap the whole thing in at least 3 layers of thick aluminium foil.
- To make Chicken in a Hole in the tradition Botswanan style, it must be must be cooked in a real cooking pit. Dig a whole about 90cm deep and 30-45cm wide. Line the sides of the hole with wood slats and place hot coals in the bottom. Sprinkle sand over the coals and place the chicken on top. Cover the chicken completely with a layer of sand and then add another layer of hot coals.
- Mark the cooking space with a rock or stick and allow to slow roast for about 4 hours.
- Dig up the chicken, shake off the sand and carefully unwrap.
- Serve with rice, potatoes and vegetables.
Note: Chicken in a Hole can be cooked in a lidded grille. Place the wrapped chicken on a rack over hot coals and close the lid. Keep the coals at medium heat so the chicken does not overcook and become dry. Botswanan Chicken in a Hole should be roasted slowly for it to be tender and juicy.