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Make Josef Centeno's braised chicken thighs

An intense blend of 13 spices forms the base of this Ethiopian-inspired stew, which is complex, hearty and topped with citrusy yoghurt for a fresh finishing touch

Josef Centeno's braised chicken thighs; photography by Dylan + Jeni

Serves 4-6

Preparation time 20 mins

Cooking time 55 mins

This oven-braised chicken dish is inspired by the Ethiopian stew doro wat, seasoned with the spice mixture berberé and cooked with a lot of leeks rather than the traditional dry-sautéed onions. Bright tomatoes, spicy ginger and chillies, and tart sumac meld with the leeks for a curry-like dish," says Centeno, who also includes a recipe for homemade berberé spice mix, which is available at supermarkets and specialist food stores if you'd rather buy than make. "I think of this dish as East Africa meets the Middle East meets the South of France," he says.

Ingredients

  • 2 leeks, trimmed
  • 2 tomatoes
  • 900g boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into 5cm chunks
  • 1 tbsp berberé (see below)
  • 1½ tsp ground sumac
  • 60ml avocado or olive oil
  • 1 tbsp chopped garlic
  • 240ml chicken or vegetable broth, plus more as needed
  • 240ml dry white wine
  • 1 tbsp grated peeled ginger
  • 3 Thai chillies, cut crosswise into thin slices
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 3 tbsp plain yoghurt
  • 2 tbsp water
  • 1 tsp fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp white sesame seeds
  • 2 tbsp fresh thyme leaves

Berberé

  • 1½ tbsp cumin seeds
  • 2 tsp caraway seeds
  • 2 tsp cardamom seeds
  • 2 tsp coriander seeds
  • 1½ tbsp cubeb pepper
  • 1 tsp whole allspice
  • ½ tsp whole cloves
  • 2 tbsp dried fenugreek leaves
  • 3 tbsp aleppo pepper
  • 2 tbsp sweet paprika
  • 2 tsp ground ginger
  • 2 tsp ground turmeric
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon

Method

  1. Heat the oven to 180°C.
  2. Cut the leeks in half lengthwise, then cut them into 6mm slices. Rinse thoroughly, drain and set aside.
  3. Grate the tomatoes on the large holes of a box grater into a bowl and discard the skins. Set aside.
  4. Put the chicken in a large bowl and add the berberé, sumac, and 1 teaspoon of salt. Toss until the chicken is seasoned on all sides with the spice mixture and set aside.
  5. Heat the oil in a large pot over medium-high heat until hot and shimmering. Add the chicken and sauté until golden brown (3-5 minutes). Add the leeks and sauté until softened (2-3 minutes). Add the garlic and cook, stirring, until fragrant (1 minute).
  6. Add the broth, white wine, tomatoes, ginger, Thai chillies, and pepper flakes, bring to a boil, and cover. Carefully transfer to the oven and bake until the chicken is tender, the broth has reduced slightly and the flavours have melded. Check and taste the broth after about 35 minutes; cook for 10 minutes longer if the flavours need to meld and concentrate further. Depending on the juiciness of your tomatoes, you may need to add more broth or water if the cooking liquid is reducing too quickly.
  7. Mix the yogurt, water, lemon juice, and a pinch of salt in a small bowl.
  8. Remove the chicken stew from the oven and ladle into bowls. Garnish each bowl with a swirl of the lemony yogurt, sesame seeds, and several thyme leaves. Serve immediately.

The berberé

  1. Toast the cumin, caraway, cardamom, and coriander seeds in a small, dry frying pan over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until fragrant, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from the heat and transfer to a bowl.
  2. Toast the cubeb pepper, allspice, and cloves in the same frying pan over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until fragrant, 2 to 3 minutes.
    Remove from the heat.
  3. Grind the spices to a coarse powder in a spice grinder or with a mortar and pestle. Return the ground spices to the bowl. Add the fenugreek leaves, aleppo pepper, paprika, ginger, turmeric, salt, and cinnamon to the bowl of spices. Mix everything together. Store in a covered container in a cool, dry place for up to 1 month, or freeze in an airtight container for several months.