• Baked Spanish paprika chicken with tomatoes (Brett Stevens)Source: Brett Stevens
These two ingredients always get along, spreading sunshiny rays of goodness wherever they go.
24 Jun 2021 - 10:46 AM  UPDATED 24 Jun 2021 - 10:46 AM

If you happened to be looking for the perfect food friendship, there's no doubt that chicken and tomato would catch your eye. They might be a little shyer, but they are just as companionable as boisterous bacon and eggs or showy fish and chips. One simply goes better with the other.

This is no wonder when they have such a lot in common. Both chicken and tomato are foods that have been homegrown for decades. They are each mild in flavour and extremely versatile, being happily fried, roasted, barbecued or boiled.

They might be a little more shy, but they are just as companionable as boisterous bacon and eggs or showy fish and chips.

Better still, you can prepare a dish of chicken and tomato in mere moments, or leave them to gently get along for hours. They are equally delicious either way.

You can always tell a perfect pairing when it shows up in cuisines from across the world and time itself. Take these recipes here - all of them are traditional dishes that have been passed down through many generations. Except maybe for a chimichanga. That's a thoroughly modern friendship.

Meat cute

Leave it to the Italians to do fine things with chicken and tomatoes. In this simple dish, tasty chicken meatballs pair beautifully with a simple tomato and garlic sauce. 

Bringing the heat

Pandan-scented chicken curry

Spice is happy to meet both chicken and tomato, as showcased in this pandan-scented curry. Tomato isn't generally big in Malaysian cooking, but it adds sweetness and colour and, of course, sidles up nicely to the chicken.

Caccia later

Chicken cacciatore

Cacciatore chicken is an Italian favourite that deserves to be on every winter menu. This one's a slow cooker that relies on gentle heat overtime to produce a rich sauce that permeates the chicken.

Green cardamom chicken cacciatore

Mum used to make cacciatore from the Women’s Weekly cookbooks and always served it with basmati rice. Celebrating the strong floral and eucalypt flavour of whole green cardamom, this low and slow stew is comfort food 101.

Chicken cacciatore

Simple Italian cooking at its best. This is a great family-friendly meal for any night of the week. If there are any leftovers, you can freeze any cooled chicken cacciatore for another night when time is tight.

Emperor's choice

What kind of dish would you serve to please Napoleon Bonaparte? Why, poulet Marengo, of course. Only a solid chicken and tomato dish could be enough after battle.

Soup-er duper

Adding hearty chicken pieces to any kind of tomato soup is a genius move. Start with Poh's chicken lentil soup and keep slurping from there.

Harira soup with chicken

My first experience of Harira soup was in a souk in Fez, and it was delicious. It is traditionally served during the month of Ramadan to break the fast, it can be used as a first course or as I had it, a meal in itself.

Filipino fave

This Filipino spin on a standard Spanish-style chicken afritadaand is delightful. Loads of garlic, tomato and capsicum bump up the yum-factor and there's even a hit of fish sauce thrown in for good measure.

Tex-mex tom-chick

Chicken chimichanga with green tomato salsa

Shredded chicken braised in a spicy chipotle chilli sauce is wrapped in a flour tortilla and fried until crisp. Served with a tart, green tomato salsa, a chimichanga is a burrito like you’ve never had before.

Hot twist

Donal Skehan adds chorizo to a standard Irish chicken and bean stew and the crowd goes wild. Underpinning the resulting bold flavour is, naturally, a couple of tins of plum tomatoes finest.

Roasted chicken and chorizo

An easy tray bake that's packed with flavour. Save time by leaving the garlic cloves unpeeled. They will become soft during the roasting and the garlic can be easily squeezed out at the end.

Curry loves chutney

Ever added a big dollop of tomato chutney to a chicken curry? Do it!

Sri Lankan chicken curry

This Sri Lankan curry is rich, creamy and very comforting. Grinding the spices yourself will give it a bolder flavour and complements the lemongrass and ginger beautifully.

Punjabi chicken curry

“For me this chicken curry is soul food, it is the curry we had every week and is light and almost broth like. The chicken is important here as it really rounds the flavours of the dish. Please do use chicken on the bone here, it really makes a difference. If you have a friendly butcher, ask him to joint and skin it for you, if not you can find packets of thighs or drumsticks in the supermarkets. Also, buy slightly under-ripe tomatoes as you want them to add tartness and the sweetness of ripe tomatoes will ruin the curry. The secret to any well-cooked curry is the cooking of the masala, slowly and over time is the best way, so be a little patient- it is worth the effort.” Anjum Anand, Anjum's Australian Spice Stories

Food Safari's chicken curry

A classic Sri Lankan chicken curry that’s full of flavour and best made with chicken on the bone. Charmaine Solomon has made this recipe for decades – it’s always a marvellous meal. Serve with stringhoppers if you can (or otherwise rice).

King of happy

You can't talk about tomato and chicken's friendship without eating butter chicken while you do it. It's like the pinnacle of their relationship, spreading happiness wherever it goes.

Coconut butter chicken

A fragrant twist on a classic, this is full of aromatic spices with the rich creaminess of coconut milk. 

Grilled butter chicken

Butter chicken on the barbecue mightn't be traditional, but this has all the essence and TLC of a good butter chicken. It's delicious: the chicken is super tender, the char is great and the marinade has given it heaps of flavour. 

Four-step butter chicken

Give the chicken a night in the fridge with the homemade marinade for a full-flavoured bowl of creamy butter chicken.

Did we mention pasta?

Cesaria's lorighittas

Adding pasta turns our beloved duo into a firm trio. Chicken, tomato and pasta make for some very quick mid-week meals like this lorighittas recipe made with the trio plus white wine, parsley, garlic and onion.

Red Desiree gnocchi with spicy chicken heart and tomato ragù

There's a special place in my heart for gnocchi – done properly, it is a thing of great beauty. I prefer mine to be light pillows of goodness with enough structure so they hold nicely. Like most things in life, once you get the hang of it, gnocchi is relatively quick and simple to make. The trick is to have the right type of potatoes cooked properly – not long enough and you’ll get a strange slightly textured product, too long and you’ll end up with a gluey mess. This is a sauce that is a regular at Berta – almost like a bolognese, it is subtle, yet spicy and comforting. As for the gnocchi, when making them, remember to show no fear and treat your potatoes with a firm, yet gentle, hand.

Pasta ribbons with chicken liver sauce (tajarin con fegatini)

Tajarin is the Piedmontese dialect name for tagliolini or tagliarini (thin ribbons of pasta). They are particularly connected with the town of Alba – where this recipe, with its sauce of chicken livers, is also known as tajarin all’albese, where a topping of the famous local white truffle is added. Tajarin are served with many sauces, and one famed for its simplicity is sugo di arrosto, the drippings left over in the pan from a Sunday roast.

This one too

Chicken bolognese with konjac spaghetti

If you've never made your bolognese with diced chicken instead of beef mince, now would be the time to give it a go. It makes for a lighter dish where the tomato-based sauce is given room to really shine.

Paprika plays nice

Baked Spanish paprika chicken with tomatoes

This baked Spanish dish features plenty of paprika, a spice that plays equally well with both chicken and tomato. The same is true for the added olives, capsicums, lemon and balsamic vinegar. The whole dish is basically a party of friends.

Going solo
Soy-braised chicken wings (dak nalgi jorim)

This is a dish loved by all. It’s especially popular with Korean children and it’s a great addition to a school lunchbox.

Korean Fried Chicken 4 ways (huraideu chikin)

When I first discovered Korean fried chicken, it was a revelation: the coating is flakey and crunchy, the skin is thin and crispy, and the meat is super juicy and tender.

Chicken coconut soup (tom kha gai)

Galangal is the star of the dish, giving the soup a mild, spicy aroma whilst the coconut cream lends it a richer, creamier broth than other Thai soups.

Baked heirloom tomatoes

If I were to think of something that reminds me of being in southern France it would be this dish. A couple of these tomatoes and a glass of rosé and I am in heaven.

'Popped' tomatoes

A simple way of eating cherry tomatoes to allow the heat to ‘pop’ their skins and release their juices, which mingle deliciously with the garlicky olive oil and salty capers.

Grilled tomato salsa

Charring the tomatoes adds a warm smoky note to this salsa, perfect with tacos. 

Tomato and basil scones

Two all-stars come together into one buttery bite.