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Heat the butter in a large heavy-based pan. Add the onion, carrot and celery and cook gently until softened.
Add the chicken thighs, garlic, spices and thyme. Cook stirring until the chicken is opaque.
Pour in the tomatoes, plus one extra can of water or enough to cover the chicken and vegetables. Add the stock and pepper. Bring to a simmer and cook uncovered for 50 mins.
If using, add the chickpeas and cook for a further five mins. Serve with rice. For young children, break the chicken into smaller pieces and serve.