Spiced chicken stew with leeks, tomatoes, berbere, and yogurt

This is a complex recipe with a lot of ingredients, but! The result is a warm, comforting, and fabulously spiced stew. I’ve adapted it to include more leeks. For the berbere spice mix, you can make your own, or you can buy it pre-made. Adapted from Baco.


Berbere spice mix (it makes a lot!)

  • 2 T red pepper flakes
  • 1 T each of: dried fenugreek leaves, paprika
  • 2 t cumin seeds
  • 1 t each of: caraway seeds, cardamom seeds, coriander seeds, ground ginger, ground turmeric, and salt
  • 1/2 t each of: whole allspice, ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 t whole clove

Stew ingredients

  • 3 large leeks, trimmed
  • 2 large tomatoes
  • 2 lb boneless skinless chicken thighs, cut into 2″ chunks
  • 2 T berbere spice mix
  • 2 t ground sumac
  • 1/4 c olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1-2 cups chicken broth
  • 1 c dry white wine
  • 1 T fresh ginger, grated
  • 3 thai chilies, seeded and finely chopped
  • 1 t red pepper flakes
  • 3 T plain yogurt
  • 2 T water
  • 1 t fresh lemon juice
  • 1 t yuzu kosho (optional)
  • 2 T sesame seeds
  • 2 T fresh thyme leaves, coarsely chopped


For the berbere spice mix

  1. Toast the cumin, caraway, coriander, and cardamom seeds in a frying pan over medium heat, stirring occasionally to make sure they don’t burn, until fragrant, 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat and transfer to a bowl.
  2. Toast the allspice and cloves in the same pan over medium heat, stirring occasionally to make sure they don’t burn, until fragrant, 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat and transfer to the same bowl with the other spices.
  3. Grind the toasted spices into a coarse powder in a spice grinder or mortar and pestle, then return to a bowl.
  4. Add the fenugreek, red pepper flakes, paprika, ginger, turmeric, salt, and cinnamon to the bowl of spices, and mix. Store extra spice mix in an air tight container for freshness.

For the stew

  1. Heat the oven to 350F.
  2. Put the chicken in a large bowl and toss with the berbere spice, sumac, and 1 t salt. Set aside.
  3. Cut the leeks in half lengthwise, then cut them into thin (1/4″) slices. Rinse thoroughly and drain, and set aside. (Note: rinsing is super important to remove sand, don’t skip this step!)
  4. Grate the tomatoes with a coarse grater into a bowl, and discard the skins. Set aside. (Note: if your tomatoes are not ripe or flavorful, you can add a few tablespoons of tomato paste to improve the flavor)
  5. Heat the oil in a large dutch oven over medium high heat until hot and shimmering. Add the chicken and saute until golden brown, 3-5 minutes.
  6. Add the leeks and saute until softened, 3-5 minutes.
  7. Add the garlic and cook, stirring frequently until fragrant, about 1 minute.
  8. Add the broth, white wine, tomatoes, ginger, thai chilies, and red pepper flakes.
  9. Bring to a boil, cover, and transfer to the oven. Cook until the chicken is tender, the broth has reduced a bit, and the flavors are starting to meld, about 35-40 minutes.
  10. Check and taste to see if the stew needs to cook further or if more broth is needed, then cook for 10-15 minutes longer, until the chicken is very tender.
  11. In a small bowl, mix the yogurt, water, lemon juice, yuzu kosho (if using), and a pinch of salt. Set aside.
  12. Remove from oven and garnish each bowl with a dollop of yogurt, and a pinch of sesame seeds and thyme.

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