Delicious food at your Stanford home!

Looking for a delicious, affordable and healthy meal or snack that’s easy to make in your Stanford residence? Try this original recipe, courtesy of a Stanford chef.

Do you enjoy cooking? Are you looking for the perfect recipe to test your kitchen skills? Erica Holland-Toll, executive chef of Stanford Flavor Lab, shares her original recipe for coconut-braised chicken with butternut squash and crispy spiced chickpeas.

Student Coraal Cohen holding dishes of food.

Graduate student Coraal Cohen, who is an intern at Stanford Residential & Dining Enterprises, shows off coconut-braised chicken with butternut squash and crispy spiced chickpeas. (Image credit: Alexander Kekauoha)

The recipe is a healthy and affordable option that’s easy to cook – no formal chef training necessary! It serves four people and can be made in about 30 minutes with the cookware and appliances available in your Stanford residence. All ingredients are available at local grocery stores and spices are available for free at Holland-Toll’s “spice library” at the Arrillaga Family Dining Commons.

The meal doesn’t require much prep, and it’s also a twofer – the crispy spiced chickpeas make a great snack while you’re studying or hanging out at home.

Students interested in learning the fundamentals of cooking might consider taking a class through The Teaching Kitchen @ Stanford. The program teaches the fundamentals of cooking delicious meals while understanding how to eat healthier and build confidence in the kitchen. Participants are taught hands-on cooking skills by Stanford Dining’s own certified teaching chefs.

Coconut-Braised Chicken and Chickpeas with Butternut Squash


Coconut braised chicken and butternut squash in a bowl.

Coconut-braised chicken with butternut squash (Image credit: Alexander Kekauoha)

2 Tbsp. vegetable oil (or any cooking oil)

1 small yellow onion, peeled and diced in 1-inch pieces

1 clove of garlic, peeled and chopped

1 inch-long piece of ginger, peeled and grated finely or well chopped

1 Tbsp. of ground turmeric

½ tsp. of chili flakes (add more or less depending on your preference)

1 tsp. salt (if kosher salt, for table salt, use half as much and add more if needed)

2 lb. boneless chicken thigh or breast, cut in large 1.5-inch chunks

1 15-oz. can of chickpeas, drained & rinsed

2 15-oz. cans of coconut milk

1 lb. of butternut squash diced in 1-inch chunks (this is usually easy to find already cut in most supermarkets)


1 lime

½ cup plain yogurt

4-5 sprigs of mint

Spiced chickpeas (see recipe below)


1) Heat a large pot over a medium flame until warm. Add oil, onion, ginger and garlic. Cook until the onions look soft and translucent.

2) Add the butternut squash and cook, stirring often, for 5 minutes.

3) Add the chicken, chickpeas, spices and coconut milk and increase the heat. Simmer the dish for 20 minutes over medium heat so that the coconut milk reduces as the chicken and butternut squash cook.

4) Check that the butternut squash is tender, then reduce until the sauce is thick. Season to taste, adding more salt or chili as needed.

5) Serve with jasmine rice, a sprinkle of spiced chickpeas, mint, a lime wedge and a dollop of plain yogurt.

“This is an easy dish to play around with,” Holland-Toll said. Potatoes, sweet potatoes or any other vegetable can be used instead of squash and will taste great. However, cook times will need to be adjusted. “Adding more coconut milk will change it from a stew to a soup. Play with the amount of seasoning and spices until you find exactly what you like.”

Crispy Spiced Chickpeas


Crispy spiced chickpeas in a white bowl.

Crispy spiced chickpeas (Image credit: Alexander Kekauoha)

1 15-oz. can of chickpeas

½ cup of vegetable oil

1 tsp. salt

¼ tsp. black pepper

1 tsp. turmeric

1 pinch (plus or minus) chili flakes

¼ tsp ground cumin


  1. Drain chickpeas well and pat dry with a paper towel (or lay them out in a pan and dry in a refrigerator overnight).
  2. In a large sauté pan, heat the oil over medium heat until shimmering, then carefully add dry chickpeas. Make sure they are dry or the oil will splatter.
  3. Stir often and shake the pan to keep them from sticking or burning. The skins will start to pull away and the chickpeas will become golden and crisp-looking. Toast for a few more minutes, then turn off the heat.
  4. Add all the spices at once and stir well. The spices should smell delicious, but by turning the heat off, you prevent them from burning or becoming bitter.

“This tasty garnish elevates this dish by providing crunch and spice,” Holland-Toll said. “The leftovers make a great snack or topping for salads and soups.”