One-Skillet Smoky Turmeric Chicken With Crispy Chickpeas

May 28, 2020
32 Ratings
Photo by Anna Billingskog
Author Notes

Keep this one-skillet wonder in your back-pocket for nights when you want good food fast. Its deliciousness lies in a few simple techniques—sauteing bite-sized pieces of boneless, skinless chicken thighs in equal parts Spanish smoked paprika and turmeric until they’ve developed a golden crust, then sizzling chickpeas in the spiced, golden fat left in the skillet until they’re ultra-crunchy on the outside, soft and creamy on the inside. (I liken them to little chickpea nuggets, and fair warning, they’re addictive.)

From there, toss the spiced chicken and chickpeas with some chopped cilantro, and dinner is served, straight from the skillet, with some cooling yogurt sauce on the side. It’s a complete meal on its own, but for a more substantial spread, warm flatbread, a green salad, sliced cucumbers and/or pickled vegetables all make simple, swell companions.

A few notes and tips: I love the pairing of smoky paprika and sunny turmeric, but let your spice cabinet lead the way. Try all turmeric or all paprika, for example, or other spice blends, such as turmeric and cumin, your favorite curry powder, or garam masala. Boneless, skinless chicken breast can stand in nicely for thighs, as can other kinds of beans for the chickpeas. For a meatless version, swap tofu or tempeh for the chicken. If you don’t like cilantro, or have it on hand, other leafy herbs (parsley, mint, basil) or snipped chives or scallions all work well. —EmilyC

  • Prep time 10 minutes
  • Cook time 25 minutes
  • Serves 4
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground turmeric
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons Spanish smoked paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon Aleppo pepper (or a lesser amount of red chile flakes)
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 1/4 pounds to 1 1/2 pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs or breasts, cut into bite-sized chunks
  • 14 ounces cooked chickpeas (one can)
  • 3/4 cup plain full-fat yogurt (regular or Greek)
  • 1 lemon, cut in wedges, for serving
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped cilantro, for serving
  • 4 pieces warm pita or flatbread, for serving, or 4 handfuls fresh greens and/or leafy herbs
In This Recipe
  1. Drain and rinse the chickpeas. Dry well with a cotton towel (they’ll get crispier this way!). Set aside.
  2. Meanwhile, in a bowl, toss chicken with turmeric, smoked paprika, Aleppo pepper, salt, and 1 tablespoon olive oil until evenly coated.
  3. In a 12-inch nonstick or cast-iron skillet, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil and 1 tablespoon butter over medium-high heat. Add chicken, distributing the pieces so they’re in a single, even layer. Cook without moving for 3 to 4 minutes on the first side, then flip and cook until nicely browned and cooked to an internal temp of 165 degrees Fahrenheit, about 3 to 4 minutes longer. (Note: If you have a smaller skillet, cook the chicken in batches. A splatter screen or fry guard works well to prevent oil splatter.) Remove skillet from the heat, and transfer chicken to a plate, leaving all of the spiced fat in the skillet.
  4. While the chicken is resting, make the chickpeas. Return the skillet to medium-low heat, scraping the bottom with a wooden spoon to loosen any bits of fond. (Note: Leave them in the skillet, as long as they’re not burnt, to flavor the chickpeas.) Add another 1 tablespoon olive oil, then the chickpeas and a few pinches of salt, stirring to evenly coat in the spiced fat. It’ll seem like a lot of fat, but trust me, it’s key for the crispiest, crunchiest chickpeas.
  5. Cook the chickpeas for about 10 to 12 minutes, shaking the pan occasionally. The idea is to go low and slow so the chickpeas become ultra-crispy on the outside, still creamy on the inside. Some will pop and split as they dry and crisp. Taste and add a little more turmeric and/or smoked paprika if desired. When they’re done, turn off the heat and stir in cilantro.
  6. While the chickpeas are cooking, make the yogurt sauce by combining yogurt, 2 teaspoons lemon juice (cut the remaining lemon into wedges for serving), a pinch or two of salt, and a drizzle of olive oil, if desired. Adjust seasoning and acidity, to taste.
  7. Serve chicken and crispy chickpeas while still warm with warmed pita, yogurt sauce, fresh greens or herbs, and lemon wedges.

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Recipe by: EmilyC

I'm a home cook. I love salads. Two things you'll always find in my refrigerator are lemons and butter, and in my pantry good quality chocolate and the makings for chocolate chip cookies.