Afghan Chicken in Creamy Yogurt Sauce

white pot of creamy afghan chicken

There’s no shortage of data to back up the benefits of sharing meals as a family, yet, supper sometimes gets the shaft. Schedules interfere or we just get out of the habit and days pass without locking eyeballs over a plate of pasta. If your aim is to get everyone around the table, your best bet is to cook up something that nobody can resist. Enter Afghan Chicken in Creamy Yogurt Sauce, otherwise known as Lawang. I was so smitten after first eating it in a restaurant, I begged my friend, Humaira, who is from Afghanistan, to teach me to make it.

Afghan chicken on a place with spices

Made with Everyday Ingredients

While the dish may not be familiar to many of you, it calls for ingredients you can pick up in any grocery store. Chicken legs and thighs get braised in onions, garlic, and spices (turmeric gives it that gorgeous color). Then, Greek yogurt gets stirred in just before serving, creating a creamy, flavorful sauce that’s excellent over rice.

A Healthy Chicken Dish

The other upside to Lawang is that it’s both satisfying and nourishing. The chicken braises in  a generous amount of turmeric, which is prized for its anti-inflammatory properties. The black pepper in the recipe enhances those benefits further. The dish is also a gut healthy one, rich is prebiotics in the form of onions and garlic, and probiotics from a full cup and a half of Greek yogurt.

Close up of creamy afghan chicken

A Perfect Make-Ahead Recipe

Like many braised chicken dishes, this one holds up well a day or two after it’s made. That means you can make it ahead, store in the fridge, and reheat low and slow on the stove. It also makes a terrific leftover lunch.

If you like Afghan Chicken in Creamy Yogurt Sauce, you might like:

Aush (Afghan Noodle Soup)

Sabzi (Afghan Spinach with Yogurt)

Grilled Chicken Kebab Wraps

Cilantro Lime Yogurt Marinated Grilled Chicken

Borani Banjan (Luscious Spiced Eggplant) on Afghan Cooking Unveiled

White pot of afghan chicken (lawang)
5 from 4 votes
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Afghan Chicken in Creamy Yogurt Sauce (Lawang)

This chicken is excellent for dinner or the next day in a lunch box. Serve it with a crunchy salad such as salata, a combination of cucumbers, tomatoes, lemon, and cilantro that is a staple of the Afghan table.
Course Dinner
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 3 minutes
Servings 6
Author Katie Morford

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups full-fat Greek yogurt
  • 3 pounds skinless, bone-in chicken legs and/or thighs
  • 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 very large or 2 medium yellow onions, finely chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon ground turmeric
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 1 cup roughly chopped fresh cilantro
  • 2 1/2 cups white or brown basmati rice

Instructions

  1. Remove the yogurt and chicken from the refrigerator.

  2. Begin cooking the rice using your preferred method or according to package directions.

  3. While the rice cooks, in a large, heavy-bottomed pot or Dutch oven with a lid, heat 2 tablespoons oil over medium-high. Add the onions and saute until soft and nicely browned, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic and saute another minute or so.

  4. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons oil to the onions. Add the chicken and sprinkle the salt over everything. Stir well and drop the heat to low. Cover with a lid and simmer for 25 minutes, stirring occasionally to keep the chicken from sticking.

  5. Add the black pepper, turmeric and coriander, and stir. Cover and continue to cook on low until the chicken is very tender, another 25 minutes. If the pan begins to go dry during cooking, add water, a couple of tablespoons at a time, if needed.

  6. Remove the pot from heat and let it rest for 10 minutes.

  7. Spoon about 1/2 cup of the sauce from the chicken into a small bowl. Add half the yogurt and stir. Add the remaining yogurt and stir again. Pour the yogurt mixture over the chicken and slowly stir until creamy and uniform in color. This process will help prevent the yogurt from separating when added to the chicken. If it does separate after all, not to worry, it will still be delicious (just not quite as pretty).

  8. Scatter the chopped cilantro over the chicken and serve with rice. Be generous with the sauce, since you will have plenty and it's delicious over the rice.

Comments

08.21.2015 at9:36 AM #

Liz - Meal Makeover Mom

You got me at the Greek yogurt. I love all the flavors in your recipe. It’s a must-try! Pinning now 🙂

08.21.2015 at9:36 AM #

Katie Morford

Thanks Liz!

09.03.2015 at9:17 AM #

erin {yummy supper}

Sounds heavenly. I’m a sucker for any chicken with yogurt marinade… yum!
And amen to family dinners – nothing makes me happier than sitting round the table with my gang.
Happy back-to-school btw,
xoxo
E

09.03.2015 at9:17 AM #

Katie Morford

Agreed. It’s my favorite part of the day!

09.04.2015 at11:40 AM #

aida mollenkamp

This sounds really interesting, Katie!

09.04.2015 at11:40 AM #

Katie Morford

I’m guessing Afghan food may be among very few cuisines you haven’t dipped into, Aida.

02.14.2017 at7:30 AM #

Erika

This recipe is amazing! I was so impressed by the flavors and how easy it came together. I feature this recipe (linking back to you, of course!) in a recent story that I wrote about turmeric for A Healthier Upstate (https://www.ahealthierupstate.org/hidden-gems/hidden-gems-turmeric/) – a health and wellness blog for the upstate New York community. I just wanted to thank you for helping to inspire this story by creating this recipe!

02.14.2017 at7:30 AM #

Katie Morford

Hi Erika,

It’s one of my favorite dishes…I’m so glad you liked it. And nicely done on the turmeric story. Thanks for sharing.

02.15.2018 at8:37 PM #

Heather

Made this recipe tonight for me and my picky husband. It was delicious. Served with rice and a side of cucumber tomatoes like you recommended. So glad I found this recipe.

02.15.2018 at8:37 PM #

Katie Morford

Wonderful! So glad you enjoyed it.

05.17.2018 at8:15 PM #

Sharon

Wow- This was delicious! It was quite a challenge since I was cooking for one. ( though my dog disagreed)
I had everything I needed on hand except I had to use dried cilantro (reconstituted).
It was a wonderful feast and well worth the extra work for just me!

05.23.2018 at11:20 AM #

Katie Morford

Terrific. Glad to know it works with dried cilantro in addition to fresh.

08.27.2018 at7:27 AM #

paw paw yumm

Omg i love it I gotta tell my friends they will love it!! <3

09.11.2019 at6:34 PM #

Amy

I made this tonight, and my family loved it! I used boneless, skinless thighs for ease, but otherwise followed it as is. We ate all the chicken, but my husband asked me to save the leftover sauce for his lunch tomorrow. I am so glad we tried it!!

09.11.2019 at6:34 PM #

Katie Morford

Awesome! So glad you enjoyed it.

04.19.2020 at6:50 AM #

Nilofer Fakroddin

Looking forward to trying this and am glad someone made it with boneless skinless thighs since that’s all i have on hand. I have regular whole milk yogurt and non-fat greek yogurt – which would be better to use for this dish? Thank you!

04.19.2020 at6:50 AM #

Katie Morford

Use whole milk. Non-fat is more likely to curdle. Let me know how it goes!

04.08.2021 at11:26 AM #

Pravalika

I tried this recipe but when i cook chicken in onions it got water, i was cooking for long time and added whole milk yogurt as per your measurements but it came out “ok” . I think i used too much onion(2medium) which got me more water, may be i should reduce 2 to 1 onion for 1 pound chicken. Other than yogurt did you use any heavy cream ?

04.08.2021 at11:26 AM #

Katie Morford

Hi there, In the end, the chicken should be in a yogurt sauce that is more creamy than watery. I don’t think the onion would make it watery. I don’t use cream in this, just Greek yogurt.

06.16.2021 at1:21 PM #

Natalie

This recipe I did In my crock pot, it was delicious. I slowly cooked the chicken in olive oil and onion later adding spice then reduced the heat to add the yogurt, that was at room temp. It was so good and the next two days the left overs kept getting better. Omg. Thank you for posting this recipe, truly appreciated.

06.16.2021 at1:21 PM #

Katie Morford

Oooh…what a great idea. Thank you for sharing your method. I will try it this way!

10.21.2021 at6:33 PM #

Cathryn

Thank you for sharing this amazing recipe. We just finished eating our dinner and my boyfriend said he wants it every year for his birthday (though I’m sure we will be making much more frequently)

I followed the recipe exactly with the exception of substituting the yogurt with crème fraiche because we are keto. I’m usually a tinkerer with recipes but I would not change a thing.

Thank you!

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