Half of a Yellow Sun Roast Chicken Recipe

Many of our popular culture recipes focus on the food featured in popular films and books from the West. However, today we’d like to focus on one of our favourite works from African literature ‘Half of A Yellow Sun’ a book that chronicles the war in Nigeria, by Chimamanda Adichie. The novel is filled with beautiful metaphors and exquisite writing that captures the lives of characters during the Biafran war.

In the novel, food is an important metaphor – it’s important evidence of class differences. In the first few lines of the novel, Ugwu – one of the main characters in the novel – is going to live in the home of a new master, who, his aunt tells him will give him meat every day –

“And as long as you work well, you will eat well. You will even eat meat every day.” She stopped to spit; the saliva left her mouth with a sucking sound and landed on the grass. Ugwu did not believe that anybody, not even this master he was going to live with, ate meat every day.”

Later, Ugwu finds ad devours a roast chicken in his master’s fridge

“When he saw the white thing, almost as tall as he was, he knew it was the fridge. His aunty had told him about it. A cold barn, she had said, that kept food from going bad. He opened it and gasped as the cool air rushed into his face. Oranges, bread, beer, soft drinks: many things in packets and cans were arranged on different levels and, and on the topmost, a roasted shimmering chicken, whole but for a leg. Ugwu reached out and touched the chicken. The fridge breathed heavily in his ears. He touched the chicken again and licked his finger before he yanked the other leg off, eating it until he had only the cracked, sucked pieces of bones left in his hand. “

Doesn’t the description of a ‘roasted shimmering chicken’ have you drooling? Us too. Here’s a recipe for roasted chicken made African style, perhaps similar to the one Ugwu found in his master’s fridge.  Enjoy it while you read Half of a Yellow Sun, if you haven’t already. 

Serve it for lunch or dinner, with a side of yams or potatoes.

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Shimmering Roast Chicken
Juicy, tender roast chicken.
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  1. Remove the giblets and rinse out the cavity of the chicken.
  2. Pat dry.
  3. Mix all the remaining ingredients (salt and chili powder to taste) together until a thick paste is formed.
  4. Rub this mixture under the skin of the chicken well.
  5. Marinate the chicken overnight.
  6. Preheat an oven to 375 F.
  7. Place the chicken in a roasting pan, and roast for an hour.
  8. Turn over and roast for 30 more minutes.
  9. Rub with a little butter and roast for 15 more minutes until the juices run clear and the chicken is golden brown.
  10. Serve and enjoy.


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