RECIPE: Make Chai Pani’s Kothimbir Chicken

Chai Pani’s Kothimbir Chicken   
Courtesy of Mia Yakel

Combined ShapeCaption
Chai Pani’s Kothimbir Chicken Courtesy of Mia Yakel

We treated ourselves to several dishes from Chai Pani’s new menu. We really liked the Kothimbir Chicken and were surprised with the use of cinnamon sticks to season the sauce. How do they make it? — Robert Acosta, Decatur

Daniel Peach, culinary director for the Chai Pani Restaurant Group, was happy to share the recipe for this very saucy dish flavored with cinnamon sticks, cumin seeds, turmeric and lots of herbs. We recommend serving it with rice so you can enjoy every bit of the sauce.

Peach prefers peanut oil for frying the onions. He suggested substituting canola, sunflower or safflower oil, but not anything highly flavored like olive oil. Ginger-garlic paste is available in some grocery stores and at shops carrying Indian groceries, where you will also find curry leaves.

Chai Pani’s Kothimbir Chicken
  • 1/2 cup yogurt
  • 1 bunch cilantro
  • 1/2 cup mint leaves
  • 2 or 3 serrano peppers, to taste
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt, plus more for seasoning
  • 6 skin-on boneless chicken thighs (about 1 1/4 pounds),each cut into 3 pieces
  • 5 tablespoons peanut oil, divided
  • 3 cups thinly sliced red onion
  • 3 tablespoons ginger-garlic paste
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened dried shredded coconut
  • 2 cinnamon sticks, each broken into 2 or 3 pieces
  • 1 tablespoon cumin seeds
  • 2 curry leaves
  • 1 cup hot water
  • 1/2 teaspoon garam masala
  • Rice, chapati or naan, for serving
  • In the jar of a blender, combine yogurt, cilantro, mint, serrano peppers, 1 tablespoon salt and 1/4 cup cold water and blend until smooth.
  • Put chicken into a bowl or food-safe zip-close plastic bag and cover with marinade. Cover bowl or seal bag and refrigerate 4 to 8 hours.
  • Meanwhile, in a large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons oil over high heat. Add onion and continue cooking over high heat until onion begins to soften, about 4 minutes, stirring constantly. Lower heat to medium-high and cook, stirring often, until onions are golden on the edges, about 10 minutes. Add ginger-garlic paste and turmeric and cook 1 minute, then reduce heat to low and add coconut. Continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until coconut has lightly browned, about 2 minutes. Remove mixture from pan and allow to cool. Set aside.
  • In a large skillet, heat remaining 3 tablespoons oil over high heat. Add cinnamon sticks and cook until sticks begin to color and swell, about 2 minutes. Add cumin seeds and fry 30 seconds, until seeds begin to sputter. Stir in curry leaves and reserved onion-coconut paste and fry mixture 30 seconds, stirring continually.
  • Remove chicken from marinade, shaking off most of the excess, add to skillet and stir to coat chicken with seasonings. Reduce heat to medium and cook 5 minutes. Add remaining marinade and stir to coat chicken well. Cover and simmer until chicken is cooked through, about 10 minutes.
  • Uncover skillet, add the hot water and garam masala. Season to taste. Bring mixture to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer 2 to 3 minutes. Serve with rice, chapati or naan. Serves 6.

Nutritional information

Per serving: Per serving: 355 calories (percent of calories from fat, 57), 22 grams protein, 17 grams carbohydrates, 5 grams fiber, 23 grams total fat (9 grams saturated), 89 milligrams cholesterol, 1,080 milligrams sodium.

From the menu of ... Chai Pani, 406 W. Ponce de Leon Ave., Decatur; 404-378-4030,

Is there a recipe from a metro Atlanta restaurant you’d like to make at home? Tell us and we’ll try to get it. We’ll also test it and adapt it for the home kitchen. Because of volume, we can’t answer all inquiries. Send your request, your address and phone number to and put “From the menu of” and the name of the restaurant in the subject line.

ExploreDeKalb County dining news
ExploreOur favorite dishes in Atlanta right now

Sign up for the AJC Food and Dining Newsletter

Read more stories like this by liking Atlanta Restaurant Scene on Facebook, following @ATLDiningNews on Twitter and @ajcdining on Instagram.