Spiced chicken tortillas

Perfect for entertaining: Spiced chicken with soft tortillas.
Perfect for entertaining: Spiced chicken with soft tortillas. Photo: Marcel Aucar

This is perfect for a family dinner or for entertaining a hungry group. Just pop everything on the table and let them put the tortillas together. Don't be tempted to use chicken breast instead of thigh. The thigh meat remains tender over a longer cooking time, and the extra fat and collagen thicken the sauce and give it gloss and flavour.


3 tsp cumin seeds

3 tsp coriander seeds

2 tsp fennel seeds

1 tsp celery seeds 

1½ tsp sweet smoked paprika

1 tsp ground allspice

1 tsp ground white pepper

1kg skinless and boneless chicken thighs

60ml extra virgin olive oil

1 large brown onion, finely diced

4 garlic cloves, finely chopped

2 celery stalks, finely diced

3 bullet chillies, chopped

1 fresh bay leaf

2 tsp brown sugar

2 tbsp tomato paste

1½ tbsp dark cocoa powder

salt flakes

1 tbsp sherry vinegar

500ml quality chicken stock

coriander leaves, to serve

soft tortillas, to serve

creme fraiche or sour cream, to serve

guacamole, charred corn, chilli to serve


1. Add the cumin, coriander, fennel and celery seeds to a mortar and grind roughly. Add the ground spices and grind to combine.

2. Finely chop the chicken by hand.

3. Heat the oil for one minute in a saucepan or deep-sided frying pan over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic and celery and cook for six to eight minutes while stirring frequently. Add the chilli and cook for two minutes. Add the ground spices and fry for 30 seconds. Add the chicken and cook for five minutes. Add the bay leaf, sugar, tomato paste and cocoa powder. Season lightly with salt. Add the vinegar and chicken stock and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to low and cook for 25 to 30 minutes, stirring often. Cook until the sauce is quite thick and starts to glaze. Adjust the seasoning.

4. Serve with coriander leaves, soft tortillas, creme fraiche or sour cream, guacamole, charred corn, chilli, kale slaw or anything else that takes your fancy.


1. You can adjust the spice mix to your taste and dial up the heat with extra dried or fresh chillies if that's your thing.

2. Be careful not to season too heavily (and don't use stock with salt or sugar in the ingredients), as the sauce reduces a lot. Just correct at the end.

3. This freezes well, so a big batch like this is great to have on hand when you're short on time.