This chicken dish, kebabeh degee morgh, is an authentic Afghan dish made by cooking bone-in chicken pieces in a fragrant spiced tomato sauce. It’s among the most flavorful chicken we’ve tried. And we’ve eaten a lot of chicken.

My mother learned to make this kebab dish as a teenager, from a chef who was invited to her family home to cook for a special occasion, to which many guests had been invited. He wouldn’t allow anyone into the kitchen while he prepared the food with some of his juniors alongside, but sensed that my mother was keen to watch and eager to learn. He taught her the importance of choosing the right blend of spices to create balanced and aromatic, but not overpowering, flavors.–Durkhanai Ayubi

*What is Fenugreek Seed?

Have you ever wondered why your home-cooked curries seem to be missing something? A little something that Indian restaurant curries have that you just can’t put your finger on? Fenugreek seeds might be what you’re seeking. Small, square-shaped, golden seeds with a distinct maple syrup flavor and subtle bitterness, fenugreek adds sweetness and depth of flavor. It can be used whole or ground and can often be found in garam masala and panch phoran (Indian 5-spice).

Pieces of chicken skewers in a flat bread with sliced pepper and limes on the side.

Chicken Kebabs | Kebabeh Degee Morgh

5 / 2 votes
This chicken dish, kebabeh degee morgh, is an authentic Afghan dish made by cooking bone-in chicken pieces in a fragrant spiced tomato sauce. It’s among the most flavorful chicken we’ve tried. And we’ve eaten a lot of chicken.
Servings4 servings
Calories444 kcal
Prep Time20 minutes
Cook Time30 minutes
Total Time50 minutes


  • 3 tablespoons mild vegetable oil with a high smoke point
  • 2 1/4 pounds chicken thighs and drumsticks bones in, skin removed
  • 2 medium (12 oz) ripe tomatoes pureed in a blender
  • 1 tablespoon Diamond Crystal brand kosher salt (or 2 teaspoons Morton brand)
  • 1 teaspoon coriander seeds crushed in a spice grinder or mortar and pestle
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds crushed in a spice grinder or mortar and pestle
  • 1 teaspoon fenugreek seeds* crushed in a spice grinder or mortar and pestle
  • 1 teaspoon nigella seeds
  • 2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
  • 2 teaspoons grated garlic
  • 2 moderately hot fresh red chile peppers such as Fresno, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup plain yogurt
  • Naan flatbread fresh long green chiles, halved lengthways, and lime wedges, to serve


  • In a large wok over high heat, warm the oil. When the oil is medium-hot, carefully place the chicken in the wok and cook, turning occasionally, until golden brown, about 10 minutes.
  • Add the tomatoes, salt, the crushed spices, nigella seeds, ginger, garlic, sliced chiles, and yogurt. Mix to coat the chicken and then reduce the heat to medium.
  • Cook the chicken until no trace of pink remains, and has reached an internal temperature of 165°F (74°C) and a thickened sauce has formed, about 15 minutes.
  • Serve the chicken and sauce over naan flatbread with green chiles and lime wedges. 

Adapted From


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Serving: 1 portionCalories: 444 kcalCarbohydrates: 8 gProtein: 57 gFat: 20 gSaturated Fat: 4 gPolyunsaturated Fat: 8 gMonounsaturated Fat: 5 gTrans Fat: 0.1 gCholesterol: 183 mgSodium: 1962 mgPotassium: 887 mgFiber: 2 gSugar: 4 gVitamin A: 897 IUVitamin C: 48 mgCalcium: 93 mgIron: 3 mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Tried this recipe?Mention @leitesculinaria or tag #leitesculinaria!
Recipe © 2020 Durkhanai Ayubi. Photo © 2020 Elena Heatherwick. All rights reserved.

Recipe Testers’ Reviews

This recipe forced me to cook outside of my comfort zone and boy am I glad I did. After all was said and done, I had prepared a delicious meal and I exited the kitchen a more confident cook.

Preparation was easy and the cooking time was quick. Things got exciting when it came to the cooking method. I don’t use a wok often and I’m not used to cooking with oil on high heat. To be honest, I was a little scared of it but I decided to trust the recipe and I went with it. I followed the recipe to a T and it turned out perfectly. The chicken cooked through and was juicy, the sauce thickened, and the house filled with a mouth-watering aroma!

I had two types of naan—wheat and white (bleached flour). I warmed the naan on my comal and both went well with the chicken and the sauce. I served the chicken still on the bone. This is a messy recipe—both cooking and eating—but it is DELICIOUS.

Leftovers reheated well. I went easy on the peppers and served extra on the side for those that like it hot. I will be making this recipe again and again and again. We loved it.

This recipe is delicious. It comes together in no time at all and is a perfect candidate to be a weeknight winner. My spices are no more than 2 to 3 months old and that lead to an intensely flavored sauce that everyone kept grabbing more of.

The chicken was juicy and perfectly cooked. Since the entire sauce can pretty much be assembled in the same blender you blitz the tomatoes in, it makes for less cleanup, and can be accomplished in the time the chicken is frying. This ultimately turned out to be a delicious and flavorful dish I’m already being asked to put into regular rotation.

The finished chicken dish from this recipe tastes as though it’s simmered in the delicious sauce all day. I had to make a couple substitutions for ingredients not available in my small town so my end result may not be exactly like the original dish intended but my husband raved over the flavors.

Cooking the chicken on the bone gives the meat the moisture and intense flavor this dish requires. The sauce can be made as hot or as mild as you like by the choice of red and green chile peppers you make. I had to use canned red peppers as my store had no fresh, so I used diced chipotle in the sauce and chose a fresh jalapeño to slice and serve alongside the chicken.

My meal turned out mildly spiced for my taste but my husband added the extra kick from the fresh jalapeño strips to give him some added heat. Definitely include a splash of juice from the lime wedges as it adds a very nice freshness to the dish.

About David Leite

David Leite has received three James Beard Awards for his writing as well as for Leite’s Culinaria. His work has appeared in The New York Times, Martha Stewart Living, Saveur, Bon Appétit, Gourmet, Food & Wine, Yankee, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, The Washington Post, and more.

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Recipe Rating


  1. 5 stars
    What a find this recipe was, I was liking it more as I neared the end of the meal. Afghan is one cuisine that I have not experienced all that much, could possibly fit it into a tweet at a stretch. If this recipe is an indication of what it possesses, I am ever more intrigued.

    Believe me, I am a spice fiend, and I was still amazed at how it tingled on the lips hours after eating it. In the future, I sure will attempt cooking it again because of its simplicity. Another reason not to be scared about chicken and rice being a bland combination is you just need to have an array of spices at your disposal.

    With this recipe as a side. I stepped out of my usual schtick. Definitely recommend both of these beauties.

    1. Thanks, Mikey! So glad you enjoyed it and have discovered a new cuisine to experiment with. Can’t wait to hear what you make next.