Chicken 'Espírito Santo' with tomato and peanut sauce

Chicken 'Espírito Santo' with tomato and peanut sauce

Cabana The Cookbook
Martin Poole

Above the beaches of Rio lies the bohemian hillside village of Santa Teresa, where crumbling colonial architecture jostles for space with folksy craft shops, and the iconic yellow bonde tram shuffles its way up the cobbled streets. In amongst it is Espírito Santo, an Amazonian restaurant teeming with postcards of saints, indigenous headdresses and paintings by local artists. A dish of chicken skewers lightly rolled in chopped nuts was the standout dish on our visit, and our recipe is a tribute to this little neighbourhood restaurant. We’ve served it with our take on a typical Brasilian tomato and peanut sauce.

For the chicken skewers


Quantity Ingredient
60g brasil nuts
60g cashew nuts, lightly toasted
500g skinless, boneless chicken breasts or thighs
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
olive oil, to drizzle

For the tomato and peanut sauce

Quantity Ingredient
30g unsalted skinless peanuts
butter, for cooking
1 small onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
2 tablespoons tomato puree
2 plum tomatoes, deseeded and chopped
80ml coconut milk
1/2 teaspoon chicken bouillon
or 1/2 stock cube
1/2 teaspoon caster sugar
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper


  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C. Put the Brasil nuts, cashew nuts and peanuts in separate corners of a baking tray and bake for 10–12 minutes, or until lightly toasted. Remove and leave to cool. Set the peanuts aside. Rub the Brasil nuts with a kitchen towel to remove their skins, then place in a food processor along with the cashew nuts. Pulse the nuts to make coarse crumbs with a few larger chunks. Tip into a shallow bowl and set aside.
  2. Next, make the tomato and peanut sauce. Melt the butter in a small saucepan and add the onion, garlic and ground coriander and season with salt and pepper. Cover and cook over a medium-low heat for 6–8 minutes, stirring occasionally, until soft and translucent. Add the rest of the ingredients and the toasted peanuts and give the mixture a stir. Simmer for 8–10 minutes, or until the sauce has thickened. Transfer to a food processor and blend for about 1 minute. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Return to the pan and reheat before serving.
  3. For the chicken skewers, preheat the oven to 180°C and lightly oil a baking sheet. Slice the chicken into 2–3 cm strips. Lightly beat the egg and season with salt and pepper. Coat the chicken strips in the egg, followed by the toasted nut crumbs. Thread the coated chicken on to metal skewers and place on the baking sheet. Drizzle with a little oil and bake for 12–15 minutes, until firm and just cooked through. Divide the skewers between warmed serving plates and serve with individual bowls of tomato and peanut sauce for dipping.
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