Greek chicken with chickpeas, in Greek called kota me revithia kokkinista, is rustic, comforting, and so simple to make. There are only a few ingredients needed along with the chicken and chickpeas. You will need some common vegetables like onion, leek, garlic, carrots and bell pepper along with some tomato sauce or passata and olive oil.
Kokkinista is a Greek term which means reddened; this is used to describe a wide variety of recipes in which meat or vegetables are cooked in a tomato and olive oil sauce. The result is rich and delicious food that is best served with some fresh bread to sop up the sauces!
Why this recipe works
Almost every Greek family will have their own version of recipes for kokkinista meals. Although they may vary from household to household, the general concept is the same. Meat or vegetables cooked slowly in a tomato and olive oil based sauce. So delicious.
I use an entire chicken, which I carve into either 8 or 10 pieces. This offers people the choice of having either dark meat, or white meat. It is also usually cheaper to buy one whole chicken versus pre-cut chicken pieces. The chicken is salted and then fried until golden brown on the skin. This enhances the flavour of the final dish.
Although you can certainly use canned chickpeas, I like to use dry chickpeas which are soaked overnight. Again, this is a more economical way to cook. Also, I find that the texture of dry chickpeas is more pleasant. You may also be able to find frozen chickpeas, which are another easy options.
Like many traditional Greek dishes, this recipe uses simple and straightforward ingredients to create a filling and delicious meal. Here is what you will need:
Chickpeas – I prefer to use dry beans and legumes whenever possible, including in this recipe. I prefer the texture so it is worth the planning to soak your beans. However, in a pinch you can absolutely use canned beans too.
Chicken – I use a whole chicken that I carve into serving size pieces. It is easy and economical to carve your own chicken, and I take the opportunity to remove any excess fat and even skin.
Vegetables – A combination of onion, leek, garlic, carrot, and bell pepper adds flavour and texture to this meal. I use either red, yellow or orange bell peppers because the green ones have a flavour that is too strong for this meal.
Tomato sauce or passata – A good quality tomato sauce or passata (strained tomatoes) is essential for all kokkinosta dishes, including this one. I typically use our homemade tomato sauce, which you can make as well by following this tomato sauce recipe. Otherwise buy a good quality passata.
Olive oil – Another key component in any kokkinisto recipe is olive oil. Don’t be surprised that there is olive oil added straight to the pot of chickpeas and chicken as it cooks – your meal will be delicious, and not greasy.
Vegetable oil – Before adding the chicken to the pot to cook it gets browned in some vegetable oil. You don’t want to cook the chicken through, you only want to give it some color. This adds flavour and will also help seal in the juices.
How to make
Although there is time that is needed to soak and boil your chickpeas, and to brown your chicken, once everything is in the pot this is really a hands off meal that is really easy to prepare.
- Soak your chickpeas in a bowl of cold water for 12 hours or overnight.
Drain and rinse your chickpeas and then boil them in a large pot of water for approximately 20-25 minutes or until partially boiled. You should be able to easily bite through the chickpeas.
While the chickpeas are boiling, prepare your chicken. Carve it into 8 or 10 pieces; you should end up with 2 drumsticks, 2 thighs, 2 wings and 2 breasts. You can cut each breast into 2 to make smaller portions. Pat your chicken dry and salt all sides of your chicken pieces.
Heat oil in a frying pan and cook chicken in batches until browned, approximately 5 – 10 minutes per side. As your chicken pieces brown, transfer them to your large pot.
In the same oil that you fried your chicken in, saute your vegetables and garlic until the onion and leeks are softened and slightly golden in colour. Add the vegetables, and the cooking oil, into the pot with the chicken.
Drain your chickpeas and add them to the pot with the chicken. Add the water and tomato sauce. Add the additional olive oil. Season with black pepper.
Cook, uncovered, for approximately 30 minutes until chickpeas are completely cooked and the sauce has slightly thickened.
Helpful cooking tips
I like to pick through my dry beans and legumes before soaking them. This way I remove any that appear shriveled and any small stones or debris that may have found its way in with the beans. Next, I give them a quick rinse before placing them in a bowl and covering them with cold water. You want to use plenty of water as the chickpeas will increase in volume as they soak. Let them sit on the countertop or in the refrigerator overnight or for at least 12 hours.
Be careful not to leave them in the water for too long – they can start to sprout!
You will need is a cutting board (preferably one that you reserve for poultry), and a very sharp knife or poultry shears. In order to end up with your chicken pieces you need to slice through the joints. If you are not sure where they are exactly, feel around with your hands so that you have a sense of where to direct your knife or poultry shears.
Pat your chicken dry
After you have cut up your chicken use paper towels to pat the pieces dry – or as dry as you can. Then salt the chicken and fry it. Patting your chicken dry will help you get a nice crispy exterior to you pieces, and will also prevent any splattering.
Add some spice!
Chicken and chickpeas kokkinisto is a traditional Greek meal. You can spice it up however by including some spices that pair really well with these ingredients. You can easily make a cumin chicken with chickpeas recipe or a paprika chicken with chickpea. Add 1/2 tablespoon of either of these spices to your pot and enjoy the rest of the recipe as described! Adjust the amount of spice to your liking.
Change the beans
This recipe would be wonderful as well with white kidney beans or navy beans instead of chickpeas. If you add some greens as well you can make a lovely chicken and white bean stew with spinach or kale. All you have to do is replace the chickpeas with equal amounts of white beans or navy beans, and add a handful of chopped kale or spinach to the pot 10 minutes before done.
Frequently asked questions
What is the difference between chickpeas and garbanzo beans?
Nothing! These are actual just two names given to the same thing. Feel free to use them both! 🙂
What does kokkinisto mean in Greek?
Kokkinisto refers to a meal which is slow cooked in a tomato and olive oil base. You can make amazing kokkinista (the plural form of kokkinisto) with various meats, but also purely vegetarian. This is humble and rustic Greek food that is best served with fresh bread, so that you can sop up all the delicious sauce!
Can I use only chicken thighs or chicken breasts for this recipe?
Yes, you definitely can. I like to use an entire chicken because I find that this is more economical usually. Also, it gives people the choice of having either dark or white meat. However, if you would prefer not to carve your own chicken, feel free to pick up portions of what you like.
Should I rinse my chicken before cooking it?
Opinions on this question vary a lot, but most food safety agencies, including the Center for Disease Control emphatically state that you should not wash your raw poultry as this can spread any harmful bacteria. Cooking to the proper internal temperature is the safety you need.
What is the difference between canned and dry chickpeas?
Canned chickpeas are easier and quicker to use. All you do is open the can, rinse well (they often contain a lot of salt) and they are ready to go. They don’t need to be cooked, only warmed up. I do find that canned chickpeas tend to have a softer texture, and so I actually prefer to use dry when I can in this recipe.
How to serve
This really is a one-pot meal. It is very high in protein and quite satisfying. I like to serve this meal on its own, with some bread, some feta and perhaps a few olives on the side.
If you want to stretch the meal a bit to have it serve more people, or very hungry people, you can definitely serve it alongside some homemade french fries, a Greek potato salad with herbs, or a lovely salad like this kale, quinoa and apple salad that I am eating a lot of these days!
Related kokkinista recipes
These delicious stewed dishes are popular all over Greece. Grab some bread and get ready to satisfy your appetite!
By using an entire chicken and cutting it into 8 – 10 pieces you will easily serve 6 people. You may even have some leftovers, which are always amazing!
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Greek chicken with chickpeas (Kota me revithia kokkinista)
- 1 medium size frying pan
- 1 large pot
- 300 grams dry chickpeas
- 1 chicken
- 1 tbsp salt
- ¼ cup olive oil, to fry the chicken pieces
- 2 carrots, medium cut into rounds
- 2 bell peppers, orange and yellow diced
- 1 onion, medium diced
- 1 leek, chopped white part only
- 3 garlic cloves, slivered
- 6 cups water
- 1½ cups tomato sauce or passata
- ⅓ cup olive oil
- ½ tsp black pepper or to taste
- Soak your chickpeas in a bowl of cold water for 12 hours or overnight.300 grams dry chickpeas
- Drain and rinse your chickpeas and then boil them in a large pot of water for approximately 20-25 minutes or until partially boiled. You should be able to easily bite through the chickpeas.
- While the chickpeas are boiling, prepare your chicken. Carve it into 8 or 10 pieces; you should end up with 2 drumsticks, 2 thighs, 2 wings and 2 breasts. You can cut each breast into 2 to make smaller portions. Pat your chicken dry and salt all sides of your chicken pieces.1 chicken, 1 tbsp salt
- Heat oil in a frying pan and cook chicken in batches until browned, approximately 5 - 10 minutes per side. As your chicken pieces brown, transfer them to your large pot.¼ cup olive oil, to fry the chicken pieces
- In the same oil that you fried your chicken in, saute your vegetables and garlic until the onion and leeks are softened and slightly golden in colour. Add the vegetables, and the cooking oil, into the pot with the chicken.2 carrots, medium, 2 bell peppers, orange and yellow, 1 onion, medium, 1 leek, chopped, 3 garlic cloves, slivered
- Drain your chickpeas and add them to the pot with the chicken. Add the water and tomato sauce. Add the additional olive oil. Season with black pepper.6 cups water, 1½ cups tomato sauce or passata, ⅓ cup olive oil, ½ tsp black pepper
- Cook, uncovered, for approximately 30 minutes until chickpeas are completely cooked and the sauce has slightly thickened.