Valentine’s Day Chicken Hearts

Chicken hearts

Valentines Day has never been a favourite of mine. I mean, I love the Lochness Monster, the Tooth Fairy and Donald Trumps hair as much as the next guy but this Valentines-malarky can really go shove it.

This whole saga got me thinking about a Valentines Day recipe that would appeal to my sense of humour (at the very least), instead of over priced roses and the kind of expectation that hangs in the air like smog. And then it hit me – chicken heart skewers like the ones I ate (and loved) in Bangkok.

While on shoot for Girl Eat World, I ate a few things that I usually would not have. I have no regrets about anything except the Balut (17 Day Embryo Egg)  and even that has made for a great “tale from the crypt” so I can’t live in complete regret.

On a recent trip to Atlas Trading, my local spice hub, I bought some sumac. It’s a fresh, zesty Middle Eastern spice made out of the dried, red fruit of a small shrub. The crimson hue also fits in with this Valentines Day theme…


Roasted Garlic and Sumac Chicken Heart Skewers with Salad – because nothing says ‘I love you’ than hearts and salad.


serves 6 people (As much as these are delicious, I don’t think I could eat more than a handful per seating)


300g free range chicken hearts

yogurt, whatever you have and enough to cover the hearts

2 cloves garlic, roasted until soft and sweet

sumac, enough to coat the hearts

salt to taste

salad of your choice


Wash the hearts out thoroughly – until the water runs clear. Drain into a colander and place in a bowl with the yogurt for up to 3 hours. Make sure that all the hearts are coated in the yogurt that will help tenderise this secondary cut of meat.

Before you’re ready to serve, soak the kebab sticks in some water so that they do not burn. Wash the hearts clean of the yogurt. Dry off with kitchen towel. Smash garlic into a paste and toss through the hearts. Add some salt and some sumac. Thread the hearts onto the cocktail sticks.

Heat oven (I used a Philips Air Fryer) to 200C and roast for 4minutes until tender.

The hearts were insanely succulent and the fat on them has crisped up delightfully. The sumac added a lightness to what is general considered to be a macabre ingredient. And they ended up looking like crumbed and fried baby squid which is at least a point of reference if I ever serve these at a dinner party…

Free range chicken hearts were sourced from The Butcher Man here in Cape Town. Find a reliable butcher to help you with this one.