Jeera chicken

Jeera chicken seems to be an African-Indian dish (specifically Kenya and Uganda), where it is very popular, both home-cooked and in restaurants. The only restaurant in which I’ve seen it in the UK is in Southall, London, where the owners immigrated from Nairobi, Kenya. There are six versions below, none of them from restaurants.

Jeera chicken 1

3  tablespoons oil
1  tablespoon(s) cumin seeds
3  green chillies finely chopped
2  medium onions grated
8  medium pieces (about 800  grams) of chicken
2  teaspoons grated garlic
8  teaspoon(s) grated ginger
1  teaspoon(s) cumin powder
1  teaspoon(s) hot spice mix (garam masala) powder
1  tablespoon(s) lemon juice
salt and freshly milled pepper to taste
1  cup(s) hot water
cumin powder to garnish

Heat the oil in a heavy-bottomed pan. Add the cumin seeds and let them crackle. Add the green chillies and sliced onions. Sauté on medium heat for about 3 minutes or until the onions are soft and light golden.
Add the chicken pieces and cook stirring for about 8 minutes or till the chicken pieces are no longer pink.
Add all the other ingredients and mix well.
Cover and cook on medium heat for about 15 minutes or till the chicken pieces are well cooked. If the chicken is not yet cooked and the sauce looks dry, add more hot water little by little as required whilst stirring. Cover and cook on low heat till done.
Serve hot garnished with a sprinkling of cumin powder.

Boneless chicken can be also used for this recipe. Reduce or halve the weight of chicken if using boneless. The rest of the ingredients remain the same. Reduce the cooking time chicken.
Keep some extra hot water ready in case you need to add some to the sauce.
The amount of water can be increased or reduced according to how thick you want the sauce.
Serve hot with: steamed rice or Indian bread (e.g. Roti).

Jeera chicken 2

1 Kg Chicken Cut into small pieces
4 tbsp Jeera (Cumin seeds)
2 tbsp Black Pepper
2 tbsp crushed Red Chilli powder
1/3 cup each of Ginger, Garlic, Green Chillies (make a coarse paste)
4 medium sized Onions (finely chopped)
Juice of two limes
Salt to taste
2 tbsp Oil

Roast cumin seeds and black pepper in a dry pan. Grind coarsely.
Add red chilli powder; this makes the dry spice powder. Set aside half of the mixture.
Marinate the chicken pieces in one half of the dry powder and half of the coarse paste (Ginger, Garlic, Green chilli) for 2 – 3 hours.
Heat the oil. Add chopped onions and fry till light golden brown.
Add the chicken with its marinade and sauté on medium high heat. Add salt to taste. Stir continuously until the chicken becomes tender.
Add the remainder of the dry and wet mixtures. Reduce heat and cover. Add some water if a thinner sauce is desired. Continue heating, stirring occasionally till chicken is fully cooked.
Squeeze in the lime-juice and sprinkle with fresh green coriander.

Jeera chicken 3

Oil to cover bottom of pan.
Heat on medium-high.
Add 3 tablespoons cumin seed to oil. Turn down heat to medium.
When seeds pop, add 5 green chillies including seeds, chopped medium, cook about 30 seconds.
Add chicken on bone, 8 thighs or equivalent, and brown.
Add 1 teaspoon salt and 1 teaspoon black pepper.
Add 1-3 ounces butter and 3 teaspoons of garam massala, and stir well.
Cover and cook for about 30 minutes on medium/low heat.
Add 2 teaspoons of ground cumin.
Check liquid and remove lid, if necessary.
Cook for a further 5-10 minutes until chicken is cooked through.

Jeera chicken 4

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
1 to 2 cups chicken broth
One 2 to 3-pound chicken, skin removed, chopped into 3-inch cubes, bones and all
2 teaspoons salt
1-1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon whole cumin
1-1/2 tablespoons freshly ground black pepper
2 cups cooked white rice

Heat a large saucepan over high heat. Add the butter, and when it’s melted, whisk in 1 cup of the broth. Add the chicken and salt and cook for 2 to 3 minutes.
Add the cumin and black pepper, reduce the heat, and continue to cook for 20 to 25 minutes, stirring often. The sauce should be almost a paste, but add more broth if it gets too thick. The chicken is usually done when the butter returns to the top of the paste, but cut into a piece of the chicken to check.
To serve, mound the rice on a serving platter and top with the chicken and sauce.

Jeera chicken 5

1 lb boneless chicken pieces, cooked
2 large onions chopped
2 tsp jeera
2 green chillis
1 tsp soya sauce
1 tsp seasame oil
1 tsp Garam masala
1/2 tsp black pepper powder
2 tbsps oil
Salt to taste

In a heavy bottom pan fry the onions till brown, then add jeera and other ingredients, mix well and fry for a minute.
Add chicken, mix well, cover and cook for 5 minutes on low flame.
Put in a serving dish and garnish with chopped green onions.

Jeera chicken 6

450 g Chicken breast fillets; skinned
50 g Butter
1 tb Cumin seeds
2 tb Ground cumin
150ml Chicken stock or water
Salt to taste

Cut the chicken into small chunks, about 2cm cubed. Heat the butter in a karahi or wok to quite a high heat. Add the cumin seeds and stir-fry for about 30 seconds. Add the ground cumin and continue to stir-fry for a further 30 seconds, then add 3-4tbsp stock or water and stir-fry for 2-3 minutes more. Add the chicken and stir-fry briskly for about 2 minutes, then lower the heat a little and, over the next 5 minutes, add the remaining stock or water, stirring as necessary. To finish off, turn up the heat and resume brisk stir-frying for about 5 minutes to reduce the remaining liquid to a dryish gravy and coating. Check that the chicken is cooked by cutting a piece in half – it should be white right through. If it isn’t, continue stir-frying until it’s ready. Add salt to taste and serve with chutneys.


Corn, which is also known in Kenya as maize, first arrived in East Africa in the 16th century when Portuguese slave traders brought it from the Americas. Corn grows well in Kenya’s warm climate. Soon people came to depend upon it. Corn is grown in almost every ‘shamba’ (garden).
Kenyans use corn in many different ways. They roast it, boil it, grill it, and fry it. They grind it into corn flour. Most importantly, corn is used to make ugali, known as fufu elsewhere in Africa, a cornmeal mush that is served at every meal.

People use their fingers to break off chunks of ugali, which they roll into golf-ball-size spheres. Then they make a dent in the center of the ugali with their thumb and use it to scoop up bits of stew or meat. Ugali is quite filling. It has a bland taste that takes on the flavors of whatever foods it is eaten with.

Making ugali requires a lot of stirring so the ugali does not stick to the pot. Milk may be substituted for the water or a mixture of milk and water may be used. Ugali should be eaten hot. It hardens as it cools.


1 cup cornmeal
2 cups water


Put the water in a saucepan and bring to a boil.
Stir in the cornmeal. Lower heat to medium-low. Cook until the mixture is thick, stirring constantly, about 15 minutes.
Cover the pot and simmer for another 5 minutes. The ugali is done when it pulls away from the side of the pot and sticks together.
Place the ugali in a large bowl. Either break off pieces by hand or scoop out little balls with an ice cream scoop.


Kachumbari is a Swahili word that has its origin in the Indian word ”cachumber” which literally means cut into small pieces.
It is an uncooked side dish consisting of chopped tomatoes, onions, and chili peppers. Kachumbari is often served as a side with hot, spicy or aromatic meals like Nyama Choma (roasted meat).

The key ingredients are chopped up onions, tomatoes, and cucumber combined with salt, pepper, and lemon or lime and coriander dressing. However, you can find variations in Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda, Uganda, Burundi, and in other African countries. In some cases, additional ingredients like avocado or other spices may be used as well.
This diversity of flavours is mainly due to the use of whatever spices, herbs, and vegetables are available locally.

All you have to do is to chop up all the vegetables and coriander leaves.
Mix the vegetables with salt and lime juice in a bowl, If you can’t get limes, lemon juice is almost as good.
Toss gently to combine.

This is best served immediately, however, if you are not using it immediately, cover with a plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator till ready to use for up to 3 days. Just before you serve, add the salt. If you put the salt in too early, it will extract the juice from the vegetables and make the kachumbari watery.

Kuku Paka (Kenyan Chicken Curry)

There’s no salt here, but you can add some, with black pepper, if you like.

8 centimetre piece fresh ginger (40g), grated
6 clove garlic, crushed
2 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/2 cup (125ml) lemon juice
1/3 cup (80ml) vegetable oil
1 teaspoon ground cumin
3 teaspoon garam masala
1 tablespoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon paprika (or smoked paprika. In Kenya, the chicken is grilled over charcoal, which gives this curry a distinctive taste – using smoked paprika goes some way towards replicating this.)
1 teaspoon red chilli flakes
1/4 cup (70g) yoghurt
1 kg chicken thighs, skinned and de-boned, and cut into 3cm pieces
3 large brown onions (600g), chopped coarsely
2 teaspoon chilli powder
2 teaspoon ground fenugreek
2 x 400g cans chopped tomatoes
1 stick cinnamon
2 fresh green finger chillies, chopped finely
300 ml cream
1 tablespoon honey
1/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh coriander

Combine half the ginger, half the garlic, half the turmeric, half the juice and half the oil in large bowl with all the cumin, garam masala, ground coriander, paprika, chilli flakes and yogurt, add chicken; turn to coat in marinade. Cover; refrigerate for at least 30 minutes – a couple of hours for a better result.

If you can grill the chicken over charcoal, go for it. If not, pre-heat oven to very hot (240°C/220°C in a fan-oven).
Cook chicken, in lightly oiled medium shallow flameproof baking dish, uncovered, for 10 minutes.

Heat remaining oil in large saucepan; cook onion, chilli powder, fenugreek, remaining ginger, garlic and turmeric, stirring, until onion softens. Add undrained tomatoes, cinnamon, green chilli and remaining juice. Simmer, covered, 10 minutes. Stir in cream and honey; simmer, uncovered, for 1 minute.

Add chicken to curry; simmer about 5 minutes or until chicken is cooked through. Remove from heat, stir in fresh coriander. Serve with basmati rice, chapatis, or ugali.

Cheat’s version (Not quite as good but still nice.):

Use a Kenyan-brand curry powder instead of the dried spices; skip the marinade and grill the chicken (legs or thighs: you can even leave it on the bone, but lose the skin); use half as much tomato; use coconut milk instead of cream (the honey is optional) and just stir it into the fried onion, tomato, and spices and simmer for a few minutes before adding the chicken. 

Optional: Add pieces of cooked potato or hard-boiled eggs.

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