Spice cabinet shortcut speeds up this Kurdish braise

  • This image released by Milk Street shows a recipe for cardamom lime chicken with white beans. (Milk Street via AP)

The elaborate pilafs, roasts and other celebratory dishes of the Middle East often take time that home cooks don’t have. But they still can provide ample fodder for inspiration.

At Milk Street, we’ve found ways to streamline these traditions into weeknight-friendly meals.


One such dish is koresh-e tareh-ye kordi, a popular Kurdish braise of chives, white beans, and lamb or chicken. Usually, it comes loaded with a dozen or more spices, including cardamom, cumin, cinnamon, dried rose petals, coriander, turmeric, dried limes, cloves and more.

For this version from our book “Milk Street Tuesday Nights,” which limits recipes to 45 minutes or less, we rely on a spice-cabinet shortcut, the Indian spice mix garam masala, which already includes several of the spices on that list. And since the finished dish tends to play up the cardamom and turmeric, we added a bit more of each.

Other simplifications included swapping canned white beans for dried and substituting easy-to-find ingredients for more traditional ones (such as fresh lime zest for dried Persian limes). Besides saving time, canned beans also include starchy liquid that we treat like a separate ingredient; it adds both body and flavor to the dish.

Every bit of this hearty braise is infused with allium pungency thanks to four whole bunches of scallions. That may seem like a lot, but they give the braise flavor and a vibrant color. Just remember to keep the green parts separate from the white parts; they’re added at different times. Serve with rice, roasted potatoes or warmed flatbread.


Start to finish: 30 minutes

Servings: 4

1½ pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs, trimmed and cut into 2-inch chunks

Kosher salt and ground black pepper

3 tablespoons salted butter

4 bunches scallions, thinly sliced, white and green parts reserved separately

2 tablespoons tomato paste

1 tablespoon garam masala

1½ teaspoons ground cardamom

1 teaspoon ground turmeric

Two 15½-ounce cans cannellini beans, drained, liquid reserved

1 cup low-sodium chicken broth

2 teaspoons grated lime zest, plus ¼ cup lime juice

Season the chicken with 1 teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper. In a large pot over medium-high, melt the butter. Add the chicken and scallion whites, then cook, stirring once or twice, until both the chicken and scallions begin to turn golden brown, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the tomato paste, garam masala, cardamom, turmeric, 1½ teaspoons salt and ½ teaspoon pepper.

Cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, 30 to 60 seconds. Add the bean liquid, broth, and lime zest and juice, then bring to a boil. Reduce to medium and cook, uncovered, stirring occasionally and adjusting the heat as needed to maintain a simmer, until the chicken is opaque when cut into, 5 to 7 minutes.

Stir in the scallion greens and the beans, then cook until the beans are heated through, another 2 minutes. Taste and season with salt and pepper.



EDITOR’S NOTE: For more recipes, go to Christopher Kimball’s Milk Street at

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