Galinha à Portuguesa (Macanese Chicken)



When I mentioned to my husband that we haven’t cooked Macanese food for a while, he suggested we make the Macanese Portuguese Chicken. I am surprised we haven’t made it for the challenge yet – (and even more amazed that he is keeping close tab), but this is the most popular Macanese dish, one that you can find in Hong Kong style cafes all over the world, even if my husband insists that they are not authentic.

Till I met my husband, I always presume, like most people, that a dish named Portuguese Chicken comes from Portugal. We are disappointed when we cannot find our favorite dish in Portugal or Portuguese restaurants. The fact is, this is a dish created by Macanese – people of Portuguese heritage who settled in Macau and their decedents. UNESCO calls the 400-year-old Macanese cuisine the first fusion food, a blend of Portuguese and Chinese cooking methods and ingredients, with some spices the seafarers picked up along their trade route. In this dish, there’s bay leaves, olives and chouriço from Portugal, turmeric and coconut from India, and a toned down level of heat to suit the Chinese and Portuguese palate.

It took a while to find an authentic Macanese recipe, not the Hong Kong version. I mostly referenced the one by renowned Macanese chef Antonieta Manhão has one, in Cantonese:

My husband forgot to tell me that we need to buy chouriço, so well… so much for authenticity. Moreover, we used whole thighs, though usually cut up pieces are used.

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Marinate chicken in turmeric, salt, pepper and paprika
Brown chicken
Cook vegetables
Add chicken, sausage, olive and coconut milk
Decorate with egg slices, sprinkle on coconut shreds and broil.

Galinha à Portuguesa

– you may wish to wear gloves if marinating chicken by hand, as turmeric stains easily.
– the chouriço sausage is salty, so no salt is added to the dish, please adjust for flavor.
– if you like you can add a little curry powder, but this dish is not supposed to be spicy.


* 1 lb chicken thighs (4-6 pieces), cut into large pieces
* 1 Portuguese chouriço sausage, sliced. (If not available, use Spanish chorizo.) Set aside 4 slices for garnish
* 1 onion, cut into chunks
* 1 carrot, peeled and cut into chunks
* 3 small potatoes peeled and cut into chunks
* 2 Tbsp tomato paste
* 1 cup coconut milk
* 2 tsp turmeric powder
* 1/4 tsp paprika powder
* 1/2 tsp black pepper
* 2 tsp salt
* 1 Tbsp cornstarch
* 2-3 bay leaves
* 1/4 cup white wine
* 2 cloves garlic, minced
* 12 -15 whole black olives (pitted or unpitted)
* 2 eggs, hard boiled, peeled and sliced
* 1 Tbsp shredded coconut or desiccated coconut


1. Add 1 tsp turmeric powder, 1/4 tsp paprika 1/2 tsp black pepper, 2 tsp salt and 1 Tbsp cornstarch to the chicken, rub well into chicken, leave to marinate for 1-3 hours.
2. In a pot, heat oil on medium high, brown the chicken pieces. Set aside.
3. Add more oil if needed, fry onion for several minutes till aromatic. Add bay leaves and 1 tsp turmeric powder, saute for a minute. Add tomato paste and half of the wine.
3. Add potatoes and carrot, mix well. Lower heat and cook for 10 minutes, adding a little bit of water if needed.
4. Add chicken, mix well. Cover and cook for 15 minutes, undisturbed.
5. Set oven to broil. Uncover pot, add the remaining 1/8 cup of wine. Add the olives and chouriço sausage. Add coconut milk. Stir to mix. Cover and continue to cook on low heat till all ingredients are cooked through, another 15-30 minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning.
6. Transfer mixture to an oven safe dish, if necessary. Top with sliced eggs and chouriço. Sprinkle coconut on top. Put into oven to broil for 5-10 minutes, till surface is lightly browned.

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