Indian-Spiced Chicken with Chickpeas and Spinach

February 25, 2013

I’ve been in such a cooking rut since the holidays… I’ve either been making mostly the same old things, or I’ve been taking the lazy way out and making pasta with jarred sauce, grilled cheese sandwiches, etc. But I feel like I’m finally starting to come out of my slump now that I’ve given myself a challenge: I’ve gone essentially gluten-free for Lent. Which is to say that I’m avoiding wheat products, but I’m not reading every ingredient label just to avoid things like maltodextrin or modified food starch. I’m also still eating oats, which are gluten-free by themselves but typically avoided by celiacs due to potential for cross-contamination. Avoiding flour is enough of a challenge for these 40 days – you know how much I love pasta, and pizza, and bread, and baking lots of desserts!

So far I’ve been doing pretty well with this experiment – it’s definitely forcing me to think more about what I eat, which I’ve really needed the past few months. I’ve been eating way too many convenience foods lately, and while frozen burritos from Trader Joe’s are delicious and probably better than many other brands, they’re still prepackaged and not as healthy as cooking with fresh ingredients.

I’ve been looking through some of my back issues of Bon Appetit for recipes that are good served with rice, and I can across this one in the January 2013 issue. I love braises – the way this cooking method transforms meat into something that falls apart with the touch of a fork is amazing. Although this recipe calls for whole chicken legs including both the drumstick and the thigh, my grocery store didn’t have chicken sold this way so I used 9 individual thighs rather than 6 legs. Thighs are my favorite part of the chicken anyway, so I didn’t miss the drumsticks at all.

I served the chicken over brown basmati rice, which I cooked according to the directions I found at Chow Times. The rice turned out nice and fluffy; I’ll definitely be following these instructions the next time I make it. It feels good to be getting back into healthy cooking, so updates should be more frequent! :)


The chicken can be cooked through step 3 up to three days ahead. Let cool slightly, then chill, uncovered, until cold. Cover and keep chilled. Rewarm before continuing with step 4.

Serves 6


  • 1  tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 6  bone-in chicken legs (thigh and drumstick), skin removed
  • Kosher salt
  • 1  tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 2  large onions, thinly sliced
  • 4  garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1½  tablespoons grated peeled ginger
  • 2  teaspoons ground coriander
  • 2  teaspoons ground cumin
  • 2  teaspoons ground turmeric
  • 1/4  teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1  15-ounce can chickpeas, rinsed
  • 2  cups (or more) low-sodium chicken broth
  • 5  ounces baby spinach (about 8 lightly packed cups)
  • 1/4  cup Greek yogurt
  • 1/4  cup fresh cilantro leaves with tender stems


  1. Place a rack in lower third of oven; preheat to 325 degrees F. Heat oil in a large heavy oven-safe pot over medium-high heat. Season chicken with salt. Working in batches, cook chicken, reducing heat as needed to prevent over-browning, until golden brown on all sides, 8 to 10 minutes per batch. Transfer to a plate.
  2. Add butter and onions to drippings in pot; season with salt. Cook, stirring often, until onions are soft and golden brown, 10 to 15 minutes.
  3. Stir in garlic, ginger, coriander, cumin, turmeric, and cayenne. Cook, stirring constantly, until spices are fragrant, about 1 minute. Stir in chickpeas and 2 cups broth. Return chicken and any accumulated juices to pot. Add more broth if needed to cover chicken about three-quarters of the way up. Bring to a simmer. Cover pot and transfer to oven. Braise chicken until fork-tender, 45 to 55 minutes.
  4. Using tongs and slotted spoon, transfer chicken to a platter and cover with foil to keep warm. Add spinach to pot, cover, and remove from heat. Let stand until spinach is wilted, 5 to 7 minutes.
  5. Stir yogurt into cooking liquid. Season with salt. Return chicken to pot. Warm over low heat (do not boil or yogurt may curdle).
  6. Transfer chicken to a large deep platter. Pour spinach and chickpea sauce over. Sprinkle with cilantro and serve.

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