Chicken Kapama — Greek Braised Chicken in Spiced Tomato Sauce

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Chicken Kapama is one of my favorite Greek Recipes

There are few things more comforting to me than a dish of slowly braised chicken in a richly spiced tomato sauce. That’s why this traditional recipe for Chicken Kapama — slowly braised chicken in tomato sauce with spices — is one of my all-time favorites.

Classic Greek flavor combinations

Chicken Kapama perfectly utilizes the classic Greek flavor combination of meat, tomato, and cinnamon. Greek cuisine incorporates this with all types of meat in a variety of iconic dishes like stews, pasta sauces, and other meat sauces like the one used in Moussaka or Pastitsio. Have you ever had a classic Coney Island hot dog or Skyline Chili? You know what I’m talking about.

This is a saucier version of the one I included in Opa! The Healthy Greek Cookbook. I added in the crushed tomatoes because I enjoy soaking up all the sauce with freshly baked bread and having more of it if I ended up serving the chicken over orzo pasta (more on that later).

Make this ahead

This is a perfect dish to make dish for a cozy week night meal. Additionally, you can elevate your plating and cook it as the main event at a dinner party. It’s a favorite for my pop-up dinners in Los Angeles. It also pays off well to make it a day ahead. The extra time it will have in the refrigerator will allow the flavors of the cinnamon and the tomato to marry together and create a greater depth of flavor. You can also make a large batch and free what you’re not going to get to right away.

Choosing spices

This is a template where I suggest using cinnamon. You can also add a hint of nutmeg, all spice, and/or ground cloves. Don’t overwhelm what you have going. I’m talking about 1/4 teaspoon just to make it a little more exciting and to add dimension.

Serving the stew

Most people serve this stew over buttered egg noodles, hiloptas, orzo, in addition to rice or roasted potatoes. But if you’re leaning toward a more low carb and gluten free option, cauliflower rice or a cauliflower or celery root mash works very well. 

Join the Conversation

  1. Hello Christina,
    I’m using your Kapama recipe on Christmas Eve to serve tomorrow with macaroni & mizithra. I’ve tried to replicate my Mom’s (and Yiayia’s) kapama so many times and it’s always ok, but not really close. My Mom always marinated the chicken in lemon with salt & pepper, crushed whole tomatoes through her sieve, and although the sauce was always a little sweet, I don’t recall any honey or sugar being added. If I marinate just for an hour in lemon juice would that be a substitute for the vinegar? Mom also browned the chicken in butter so there was a bit of browned butter flavor. I’m taking just a few liberties with your recipe and will let you know how well it turns out for Christmas dinner. With kind regards, Dimi

    1. Christina Xenos Author says:

      Hi Dimi,
      There are so many different family variations on this recipe. I think your plan sounds great, especially if you’re trying to get it close to your mom’s recipe. Because of how ingredient flavors vary, I would taste along the way and adjust as you go. How did it turn out for you? Best, Christina

  2. This is a family favorite. We always had it for birthdays and holidays. My family burnt butter before pouring it over pasta mixed with Romano cheese. Topped with the tomato sauce and more cheese, it’s a simple, inexpensive meal. The smell of kapama always brings me back to the good feelings of home, family, and safety. I was an adult before I realized that cinnamon, tomato, and chicken were seen as an odd combination to most Americans. Kapama is a staple in my home and I pass the tradition on to my children. Thank you for sharing this!

    1. Christina Xenos Author says:

      Thank you for sharing, Penny!
      Love that you have such great memories from this dish. It really is a special recipe.

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