Bougna’s recipe

Bougna, traditional Kanak dish, New Caledonia

A brief description of this dish/recipe:

Bougna is THE iconic dish of New Caledonia. It is a stew composed of starches, taros, sweet potatoes, poingo bananas, yams, and is accompanied by local meat and cooked in coconut milk. 

Are there any special memories/occasions that you associate to this dish?

It is the dish served during annual celebrations (Christmas, New Year's Eve etc.) and Kanak ceremonies (births, weddings etc.). It is associated with all these moments of coming together and sharing.

Are there any special tips for the cooking method?

Normally, bougna is stewed in a traditional Kanak oven in the ground. The ingredients are wrapped in a basket of banana leaves, surrounded by hot stones, and then buried for cooking. However, you can make it at home using a saucepan! You can also vary the choice of meat to include chicken, pork or fish.

Is this a traditional dish? Is it part of your traditional food culture? If so, we’d love to hear more about this.

Yes, it is a traditional Kanak dish. It has always been a part of tribal life. However, it has now grown popular throughout the country and has become one of the defining dishes of traditional New Caledonian culinary culture. It can be served in a restaurant or a tribal accommodation, but the best way to enjoy it is during a tribal gathering and specifically by helping your guests to prepare the traditional bougna oven.

How do you feel when you eat this dish?

A wealth of produce is grown on our land. This dish contains the key flavours from our little paradise. 

What is it you particularly love about this dish?

It's a dish that can be shared with others, a dish that brings people together.

Bougna, traditional Kanak dish, New Caledonia

How many portions does your recipe make?

6

Ingredients (please state quantity needed, e.g. 1 cup, 1 tsp)

  • 1 chicken (1.3 to 1.5 kg)
  • 1 kg of yams
  • 1 taro
  • 6 or 7 sweet potatoes or curry (very sweet)
  • 2 or 3 bananas
  • 1 tomato
  • 1 onion
  • 1 bunch of spring onions. 
  • 1 litre of coconut milk
  • Salt and pepper

Method (step by step, how to make the dish)

Step 1: Peel the root vegetables and cut them into small pieces. Then put them in water to prevent them from turning black. Peel the bananas and cut them in half. Cut the tomato into quarters, slice the onion, the bunch of spring onions and finally the chicken.

Step 2: Put a tablespoon of oil in the pan and add the chicken pieces. Place the root vegetables, onion, spring onions, tomato and bananas on top. Add salt and pepper and pour in a litre of coconut milk. Put the lid back on and simmer for 30 minutes.

Step 3: Remove the lid and pour in half a glass of water. Replace the lid for a further 30 minutes.

Step 4: Return to the pan and make sure the root vegetables are cooked through. To do this, pierce them with a sharp knife. If it goes in easily, the bougna is cooked. Bon appétit!