Turmeric Braised Chicken in Yogurt
There’s no shortage of data to back up the benefits of sharing meals as a family. Most of us have heard it makes for happier, better adjusted, even more academically successful kids. 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.
I like to use the transition from the looseness of summer to the routine of fall to get the family meal back on the table. But what to make?
Enter Afghan Braised Chicken, otherwise known as Lawang. It’s the sort of deliciousness that will make you want to sit down to supper. I was so smitten after first eating it in a restaurant, I begged my Afghan friend, Humaira Ghilzai, to teach me to make it (Humaira writes about food, family, politics, and culture over on her blog Afghan Culture Unveiled).
While the dish may not be familiar, it calls for ingredients you can pick up in any grocery store and is creamy and flavorful without being spicy. Chicken legs and thighs get braised in onions, garlic, and spices (turmeric gives it that gorgeous color). Then, a generous amount of yogurt gets stirred in just before serving. The result is a pot of fork-tender chicken napped in creamy yogurt sauce. It’s excellent over rice with a crunchy salad on the side.
Afghan Braised Chicken in Yogurt (Lawang)
- 1 1/2 cups full-fat Greek yogurt
- 3 pounds skinless, bone-in chicken legs and/or thighs
- 5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 medium yellow onions, finely chopped
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 tablespoon ground turmeric
- 1 1/2 teaspoons ground coriander
- 1 cup roughly chopped fresh cilantro
- Steamed basmati rice for serving.
Remove the yogurt from the refrigerator while you prepare the chicken.
Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil over medium-high heat in a large, heavy-bottomed pot with a lid. Add the onions and saute until soft and nicely browned, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic and saute another minute or so.
Add the remaining 3 tablespoons of 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. 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, as needed.
Remove the pan from the heat and let it rest for 10 minutes.
To add the yogurt to the chicken, do as follows:
Spoon about 1/2 cup of the onion mixture/sauce from the chicken into a small bowl. Spoon half the yogurt into the bowl and stir. Add the remaining yogurt and stir again. Then, add the yogurt mixture to the chicken and slowly stir it until it looks like a uniform, creamy sauce. 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).
Stir in the chopped cilantro and serve with steamed basmati rice.