Try this Nepalese chicken choyela recipe, then check out more chicken breast recipes. You can also listen to the olive podcast on Nepalese food and read our 10 things we love about Nepalese cuisine.

Nepalese recipe author, Rajiv KC, says, "Choyela (or choila) is one of my go-to comfort dishes. Mum used to make choyela at home whenever we had family gatherings, and my sister and I used to eat it sneakily as an after-school snack, which our mum did not approve of. As I entered my rebellious teenage years, I found comfort eating choyela as a snack to accompany drinking with my friends and cousins. When I make choyela these days it brings back all those fond memories. Hence, I always keep this dish on our menu as it is my way of honouring and reminiscing about those happy times."

Rajiv KC is the head chef and owner of Rajiv’s Kitchen, a pop-up restaurant supper club in London that celebrates the food of Nepal. Follow him on Instagram @rajivskitchen. Listen to his podcast on Nepalese food.


  • 450g skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 beef tomato
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp (optional) garam masala
  • 2 tbsp lime or lemon juice (fresh or bottled)
  • ground to make ½ tbsp (see cook’s notes) timur or sichuan peppercorns
  • 1-2 tbsp dried chilli flakes, (depending on how spicy you like it)
  • 6 spring onions
  • 2 cloves garlic, very thinly sliced
  • finely chopped to make 1 tbsp ginger
  • 2 red onions, thinly sliced
  • flatbreads, roti or lettuce leaves, to serve


  • 4 tbsp vegetable, sunflower or mustard oil
  • 1 tbsp fenugreek seeds
  • 2 green chillies, sliced
  • 1 tsp ground turmeric
  • a small bunch coriander, roughly chopped


  • STEP 1

    Half fill a large pan with cold water, put in the chicken breasts, bring it to a simmer and cook for 20 minutes or until the breasts have cooked – add the tomato to the water for the final 5 minutes.

  • STEP 2

    Drain the water (you can reserve it to be used as a stock or to make chicken soup). Once the chicken has cooled, dice the breasts into small pieces or use forks to shred them. Peel the skin off the tomato. Transfer the chicken and tomato to a mixing bowl.

  • STEP 3

    Add the remaining ingredients to the bowl and use your hands or a spoon to combine everything, crushing the tomato as you do.

  • STEP 4

    To temper, heat the oil in a large pan over a high heat. When the oil is hot, add fenugreek seeds. Once they have coloured, turn off the heat, add the green chillies and cook for a few seconds. Move the pan away from the hot hob and add turmeric. Immediately pour this mixture over the mixing bowl – it should sizzle. To avoid the pungent fumes it’s best to do this either by an open window or under an extractor fan, and keep an arm’s length away to avoid any splattering hot oil.

  • STEP 5

    Add the coriander and mix well. Leave it for at least 5 minutes – the longer the better for the flavours to infuse. Serve on its own or with a flatbread or roti, or in a lettuce wrap (my personal favourite). The choyela can be stored in the fridge up to three days and can be served at either room temperature or cold.

Cook's notes

Timur is a Nepali variety of sichuan pepper and is available online and in some Asian supermarkets.

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