Afghan Chicken Recipe - Authentic & Flavorful | Food Recipes

Afghan Chicken

Afghan Chicken Recipe - Authentic & Flavorful | Food Recipes
Region / culture: Afghanistan | Preparation time: 10 minutes | Cooking time: 16 minutes | Servings: 2


Afghan Chicken
Afghan Chicken

Afghan Chicken is a delectable dish that embodies the rich culinary traditions of Afghanistan. This recipe is a testament to the simplicity and elegance of Afghan cuisine, focusing on enhancing the natural flavors of its ingredients. The dish is characterized by its tender, marinated chicken breasts, infused with the tanginess of yogurt and the aromatic essence of garlic and lemon. It's a perfect example of how a few ingredients, when combined thoughtfully, can create a meal that's both nutritious and bursting with flavor.


The origins of Afghan Chicken can be traced back to the diverse culinary landscape of Afghanistan, where meat plays a pivotal role in the diet. Historically, recipes like this were developed to make the most of available ingredients, using techniques like marination to tenderize meat and enhance its flavor. This particular recipe reflects the influence of various cultures that have interacted with Afghanistan over the centuries, incorporating elements like yogurt and garlic, which are staples in many Middle Eastern and South Asian cuisines.


How to prepare

  1. In a wide shallow non-reactive bowl, combine salt and garlic, and mash them together until a paste forms.
  2. Add yogurt, lemon juice, and pepper to the bowl.
  3. Remove the skin and visible fat from the chicken breasts, and separate them into halves.
  4. Bend each breast backward to break the bones, allowing the pieces to lie flat.
  5. Place the chicken breasts in the bowl with the yogurt mixture, and turn them to ensure all surfaces are well coated.
  6. Cover the bowl tightly and refrigerate for overnight marination.
  7. Remove the chicken breasts from the marinade, and wipe off any excess.
  8. Broil or grill the chicken breasts about 6 inches from the heat source for 8 minutes per side.
  9. Serve immediately.


  • 1. Add spices such as cumin, coriander, or paprika to the marinade for an extra flavor kick.
  • 2. Use boneless chicken thighs instead of breasts for a juicier version of the dish.
  • While the traditional recipe is simple and delicious, you can experiment with variations to suit your taste:
  • Add spices such as cumin, coriander, or paprika to the marinade for additional flavor.
  • Use boneless, skinless chicken thighs instead of breasts for a juicier result.
  • Incorporate fresh herbs like cilantro or mint into the yogurt mixture for a fresh twist.

Cooking Tips & Tricks

To achieve the best results with this Afghan Chicken recipe, consider the following tips:

- Use full-fat yogurt for the marinade to ensure the chicken remains moist and tender during cooking.

- Allow the chicken to marinate overnight to fully absorb the flavors.

- If grilling, ensure the grill is properly preheated and cleaned to prevent sticking.

- Let the chicken rest for a few minutes after cooking before serving to allow the juices to redistribute.

Serving Suggestions

Afghan Chicken can be served with a variety of sides to complement its flavors. Traditional Afghan rice, known as Kabuli Pulao, makes an excellent pairing, as do roasted vegetables or a simple cucumber salad. For a more filling meal, consider serving it with flatbread or naan.

Cooking Techniques

This recipe can be adapted to various cooking techniques beyond grilling or broiling. Baking in an oven preheated to 375°F (190°C) for 25-30 minutes is an alternative method, as is pan-searing the chicken on the stovetop before finishing it in the oven.

Ingredient Substitutions

For those looking to modify the recipe due to dietary restrictions or preferences, consider the following substitutions:

- Dairy-free yogurt can replace regular yogurt for a lactose-free version.

- Lemon zest can be used instead of lemon juice for a milder citrus flavor.

- For a lower sodium option, reduce the amount of salt or use a salt substitute.

Make Ahead Tips

The chicken can be marinated up to 24 hours in advance, making this recipe perfect for meal prep. Simply prepare the marinade, add the chicken, and store it in the refrigerator until ready to cook.

Presentation Ideas

Serve the Afghan Chicken on a platter garnished with lemon slices and fresh herbs for an appealing presentation. A drizzle of olive oil or a sprinkle of sumac can add a colorful and flavorful finishing touch.

Pairing Recommendations

This dish pairs well with light, crisp white wines such as Sauvignon Blanc or a dry Riesling, which can complement the tanginess of the yogurt and lemon. For a non-alcoholic option, consider a mint lemonade or a sparkling water with a squeeze of lemon.

Storage and Reheating Instructions

Leftover Afghan Chicken can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. To reheat, place it in a covered dish in a preheated oven at 350°F (175°C) for 10-15 minutes, or until heated through.

Nutrition Information

Calories per serving

Each serving of Afghan Chicken contains approximately 200-250 calories, making it a moderate-calorie option that can fit into various dietary plans, especially when served with a side of vegetables or a salad.


This Afghan Chicken recipe is relatively low in carbohydrates, with the primary source being the lemon juice and garlic used in the marinade. Each serving contains approximately 3-5 grams of carbohydrates, making it a suitable option for low-carb diets.


The fat content in this dish primarily comes from the chicken itself, particularly if you use chicken breasts with the skin on. However, this recipe calls for skinless breasts, significantly reducing the fat content. The total fat per serving is approximately 7-10 grams, with minimal saturated fat due to the use of lean chicken and low-fat yogurt.


Afghan Chicken is an excellent source of high-quality protein, with each serving providing about 30-35 grams. This makes it an ideal choice for individuals looking to maintain or increase muscle mass, or simply ensure adequate protein intake.

Vitamins and minerals

This dish is rich in several vitamins and minerals, particularly those found in garlic and lemon. Garlic is a good source of manganese, vitamin B6, and vitamin C, while lemon provides vitamin C and potassium. These nutrients support immune function, bone health, and heart health.


The primary allergen in this recipe is dairy, due to the use of yogurt. Individuals with a dairy allergy or lactose intolerance should consider using a dairy-free yogurt alternative.


Overall, Afghan Chicken is a nutritious dish that provides a balanced mix of proteins, fats, and essential vitamins and minerals, with a low carbohydrate content. It's a healthy option for those looking to enjoy a flavorful meal without compromising their dietary goals.


Afghan Chicken is a flavorful, nutritious dish that showcases the simplicity and elegance of Afghan cuisine. With its tender, marinated chicken and a blend of tangy yogurt, garlic, and lemon, it's a versatile recipe that can be adapted to suit various dietary needs and preferences. Whether served as part of a weeknight dinner or a special occasion, it's sure to delight the palate and nourish the body.

How did I get this recipe?

The first time I saw this recipe, I was drawn to it like a magnet. It was a warm summer day and I was visiting a dear friend of mine who had just returned from a trip to Afghanistan. She had always been an adventurous cook, and she was eager to share her latest culinary discovery with me.

As we sat in her cozy kitchen, sipping tea and catching up on each other’s lives, she pulled out a worn and stained recipe card from her collection. It was a recipe for Afghan Chicken, a traditional dish that she had learned from a local woman during her travels.

The ingredients were simple yet exotic - chicken, onions, garlic, turmeric, cinnamon, and dried apricots. The combination of savory and sweet flavors intrigued me, and I was eager to learn how to make it.

My friend walked me through the recipe, explaining each step in detail and sharing anecdotes from her time in Afghanistan. She talked about the bustling markets filled with colorful spices, the aroma of freshly baked bread wafting through the streets, and the warm hospitality of the people she had met along the way.

As we chopped, sautéed, and simmered, I felt a sense of connection to a faraway land and its rich culinary traditions. The smells that filled the kitchen were intoxicating - the earthy scent of turmeric, the sweetness of the dried apricots, and the warmth of cinnamon.

After hours of cooking, the dish was finally ready. We sat down at the table, our mouths watering in anticipation. The first bite was a revelation - tender chicken infused with aromatic spices, balanced by the sweetness of the apricots. It was a taste of Afghanistan in every bite.

From that day on, Afghan Chicken became a staple in my kitchen. I made it for family gatherings, dinner parties, and lazy Sunday afternoons. Each time I cooked it, I remembered my friend and our shared love of food and adventure.

Over the years, I added my own twists to the recipe - a squeeze of lemon here, a sprinkle of fresh herbs there. I experimented with different cuts of chicken, cooking methods, and spice combinations. But no matter how many variations I tried, the essence of the dish remained the same - a celebration of flavors and memories.

As I cooked Afghan Chicken, I felt a deep sense of gratitude for the people who had shared their recipes and stories with me. Each dish was a reminder of the connections we forge through food, transcending borders and cultures.

Now, as I pass on the recipe for Afghan Chicken to you, my dear grandchild, I hope you will savor every bite and create your own memories around the table. May this dish bring you closer to the world and the people who inhabit it, one delicious bite at a time. Bon appétit!


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