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This Georgian Chicken Stew with Tomatoes and Herbs [Chakhokhbili] is an easy, traditional dish from the country of Georgia. This one pot meal consists of seared chicken pieces cooked in a bright, comforting tomato sauce that is delicious over rice or with fresh garlic naan bread for sopping juices.
I’m joining with a few adventurous food blogging friends today to explore the foods of Georgia! The country, not the state.
Evelyn, from CulturEatz, hosts a monthly challenge exploring the foods of one country at a time. It’s a bit of a departure from my American Eats series, but one I can definitely get behind and have fun with!
To be honest, I don’t know much about Georgia or its cuisine, but as I did some research to figure out what I wanted to make, I found lots of tasty looking food ideas that are influenced by Georgia’s geographic location being bordered by Turkey, Armenia, Azerbaijan, on the south and east, and the Ukraine on the north.
I love, love, love Turkish food, so it’s no surprise that much of what I saw from Georgia looked delicious.
But this homey, comforting dish of stewed chicken with tomatoes, garlic, and herbs looked right up my alley and easy to prepare for a simple weeknight meal. My family really enjoyed this dish and especially loved sopping up the wonderful cilantro and garlic infused tomato sauce with their garlic naan bread.
It’s known as chakhokhbili and is supposedly pronounced chalk-hoke-bee-lee (but with a throat sound on the “hoke” part of the word). We might just stick with calling it Georgian chicken stew.
What is Chakhokhbili?
Chakhokhbili was actually traditionally made with pheasant but nowadays most people use chicken. I used bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs, which are pretty much my favorite cut of chicken, but you could use legs or cut up a whole chicken and use all the parts.
The chicken is simmered with vegetables and tomatoes until tender. Then fresh cilantro and some minced garlic is stirred in to finish off the dish.
Ideally, I would have used chopped fresh tomatoes to make my chakhokhbili but seeing as it’s March and tomato season is still a distant dream, I went with diced San Marzano tomatoes and dinner still turned out quite fantastic. We will definitely be having this again in the summer though when we can get garden-fresh tomatoes!
The other key flavor players in Georgian chicken stew with tomatoes and herbs are red peppers, onions, and cilantro. I saw chakhokhbili recipe variations calling for a variety of herbs like dill, parsley, tarragon, and basil in addition to the cilantro (for the same total quantity of cilantro included in the recipe below), but cilantro seemed overwhelmingly to be the most popular choice.
The amount of herbs also varied, but you can plan on about 1/2 cup of chopped cilantro and then add more by sprinkling it on top (which I like to do because I LOVE cilantro).
How to Make Georgian Chicken Stew with Tomatoes and Herbs
- Season chicken pieces on all sides with salt and pepper.
- Heat 4 tablespoons of olive oil in the bottom of a dutch over or other large heavy duty pot over high heat.
- Brown chicken on all sides, then transfer to a plate and drain any excess grease from the pot.
- Add a little more olive and saute the onions for a couple of minutes, just until they start to soften, then add the red peppers and cook a few minutes more, until the onions are soft and translucent.
- Add the diced tomatoes, red pepper flakes, and season with salt and pepper to taste. Cover and cook for 10 minutes over medium heat.
- Return the chicken to the pan and nestle in the tomato sauce. Cover and simmer for 30 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through and the flavors have combined.
- Stir in the garlic and cilantro, then serve hot over rice or with garlic naan on the side.
Check out all the wonderful Georgian dishes prepared by fellow Eat the World members and share with #eattheworld. Click here to find out how to join and have fun exploring a country a month in the kitchen with us!
Bernice: Fresh Herb Walnut Tomato Cucumber Salad
Camilla: A Georgian Salad Duo: Ispanakhis Pkhali and Charkhlis Mkhali
Tara: Khabizgina (Ossetian Cheese and Potato Bread)
Juli: Satsivi – Georgian Walnut Turkey
Evelyne: Georgian Ajika Dry Spice Paste
Amy: Georgian Chicken Stew with Tomatoes and Herbs [Chakhokhbili]
Margaret: Charkhlis Chogi (Georgian Beets with Sour Cherry Sauce)
Amy: Lobiani (Georgian Bean-Stuffed Bread) #EattheWorld
Wendy: Khinkali (Georgian Dumplings)
Simply Inspired Meals: Fruit Leather aka Tklapi
- 2 to 2 1/2 pounds chicken thighs, bone-in, skin-on
- 6 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 1 large onion
- 1 red bell pepper, sliced
- 26 ounces San Marzano tomatoes, diced (or 3.5 pounds chopped fresh tomatoes, if available)
- 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1 teaspoon salt, or more to taste
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, or more to taste
- 1/2-1 cup fresh cilantro, chopped, plus more for sprinkling over the top
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- Season the chicken thighs on both sides with salt and pepper.
- Heat 4 tablespoons of the olive oil in a large dutch oven or skillet on high heat. When the oil is hot, add the chicken thighs skin side down and brown for 4-5 minutes before flipping and browning on the other side. Remove chicken from pan and set aside.
- Drain the grease, then add the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil and heat over medium high heat. Add the onion and cook for 2 minutes. Add the bell pepper and continue to cook for another 3 minutes, stirring occasionally until onions have softened.
- Add the tomatoes, red pepper flakes, salt, and pepper, then cover the dutch oven or skillet with a lid and cook over medium heat for 10 minutes.
- Return the chicken to the pan and nestle the pieces into the tomato sauce. Cover with the lid again and reduce heat to medium-low. Cook for 30 minutes, until chicken is tender and cooked through.
- Stir in the chopped cilantro and minced garlic. Taste and adjust seasonings as necessary.
- Serve the stew with additional cilantro sprinkled over the top and naan bread or rice.