Braised Indian Chicken with Chickpeas
Flavorful braised Indian chicken with chickpeas and spinach. Prepared with chicken thighs and braised for just 45 minutes in the oven. Simple, hearty, and delicious!
I know that you are going to love this braised Indian chicken dish. It is packed with flavor, the perfect amount of heat, reheats beautifully, can be prepped in advance, and is incredibly healthy to boot.
It can be prepared in just over an hour.
One of my absolute favorite (if not, favorite of all time) restaurants in Washington, DC is an Indian restaurant called Rasika.
We visited the restaurant again as a family over the holidays and I’ve vowed to step up my Indian cooking game ever since. While this dish may not be extremely authentic, it is delicious.
One the biggest challenges that I find in cooking Indian food at home is lack of ingredients or lack of time. Many great Indian recipes call for a large number of spices and most of them require a long cook time in order to impart the depth of flavor that we all know and love.
So when I discover new recipes that require neither of these things, I’m always intrigued. Today’s recipe was inspired a recipe in an old Bon Appetit magazine issue.
I love that it contains just four dried spices (coriander, turmeric, cumin, and cayenne), all of which can be found in most well-stocked pantries.
It uses one of the most under-appreciated, yet tasty and flavorful chicken pieces: the thighs. I’m a major fan of chicken thighs and practically any and all dark meat.
If you are as well, I recommend trying this Tomato Braised Chicken recipe too.
As with any good braised recipe, this dish requires you to brown and sear the chicken thighs as one of the first very cooking steps. This is the most important step. It takes some patience, but don’t skimp on browning.
We’ll then sauté onions and garlic, adding the spices, broth, and canned chickpeas, and place the browned chicken thighs back in the pot, and allow the dish to simmer in a low heat oven for 40 to 50 minutes.
Cooking over low heat allows the chicken to become extremely tender and helps maximize the flavor of the dish. Just before serving, we’ll stir in baby spinach and Greek yogurt for a touch of creaminess and tang.
I love serving this dish on top of steamed basmati rice with some vegetables, raita, and some fluffy naan bread.
Braised Indian Chicken with Chickpeas and Spinach
- 1-2 tablespoons ghee or vegetable oil
- 6 bone-in chicken thighs, skins removed, roughly 2-2½ lbs or substitute with boneless, skinless chicken thighs (see recipe note)
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 2 large onions thinly julienned
- 4 garlic cloves roughly chopped
- 1½ tablespoons finely grated ginger root
- 2 teaspoons ground coriander
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 2 teaspoons ground turmeric
- ¼ teaspoon ground cayenne or more as desired
- 1 (15-ounce) can chickpeas rinsed well and drained
- 2 cups (480 mL) low-sodium chicken broth
- 5 ounces baby spinach leaves
- ¼ cup whole fat Greek yogurt
- ¼ cup fresh cilantro leaves
- kosher salt
- freshly ground pepper
- Preheat the oven to 325°F (165°C) with a rack in the center position. Note: Braising the chicken in the oven ensures that you will cook it at a steady, low temperature, and reduces the need to watch it on the stove. Pat the chicken thighs dry with paper towels and season generously with salt and pepper.
- Heat the oil in a large (5 to 6 quart) Dutch-oven or other heavy-bottomed pot. Working in batches to avoid over-crowding the pan, sear the chicken thighs until golden brown on all sides. Adjust heat as necessary. Set aside on a large plate.
- Add the butter to the pan drippings along with the julienned onion. Cook the onions over low heat, stirring often, for 8 to 10 minutes or until very soft and caramelized.
- Add the garlic, fresh ginger, coriander, cumin, turmeric, and cayenne pepper to the pot. Cook, stirring constantly, until very fragrant. Add the drained chickpeas and chicken broth and stir mixture together gently. Add the browned chicken thighs back into the pan (the broth should cover the chicken thighs about ⅔ to ¾ of the way up). Bring to a low simmer. Cover the pot and transfer to the oven. Braise the chicken until fork-tender, roughly 40 to 50 minutes.
- Using oven mitts, carefully transfer the pot from the oven and place back on the stove. Using tongs, transfer the chicken to a platter and cover with foil to keep warm. Add the spinach to the pot, cover, remove from heat, and allow spinach to wilt for about 5 minutes. Stir in the yogurt, and season sauce to taste with salt and pepper. Add the chicken back to the pot and place over very low heat. Stir in the fresh cilantro leaves before serving (reserve some for garnishing). Serve immediately.
- Serving Suggestion: Serve with brown basmati rice, yogurt or raita, and garnish with fresh cilantro.
Tips for Success:
- If using boneless chicken thighs, reduce cooking time by about 10 minutes. Chicken can be made 3 days ahead. Let cool slightly, then chill, uncovered, until cold. Cover and keep chilled. Rewarm before continuing with recipe steps.