This post is dedicated to my friend Tyler. He’s my super smart electrical engineer, surfer/swimmer, cyclist, and environmentalist. Almost every weekend he is firing up his grill in his San Diego backyard (who wouldn’t in that year-round awesome weather?). He often posts a picture of the grilling in-progress on social media and that usually starts some friendly banter between his friends. Each week it seems like he is elevating his grilling and I’m always encouraging him to up the flair on the seasoning. Tyler, put the BBQ sauce down this week and give this a try!
So….I am in LOVE with Indian food. However, some of my friends aren’t. I am convinced it is because they have only eaten Indian dishes in crappy restaurants (or frozen meals) where the dishes are overly pureed, overcooked, and/or with substandard ingredients. It’s criminal! If you ever have the opportunity to have a home-cooked meal prepared by someone of Indian descent, DO IT! It’s a true privilege! I’ve been lucky to have some wonderful home-cooked Indian meals from my Indian friends (especially a particularly memorable feast made by my friend Conal’s mom, Mrs. Charles). In the mean time, try this recipe for Garlic Chicken Tikka-style Kabobs. It’s a good introduction to some common flavors of India. This recipe also is used as a base for some other curry dishes that I will post later. The recipe is adapted from Neelam Batra’s 1000 Indian Recipes cookbook. I know, I know, you are probably thinking, 1000 recipes? Sounds like a gimmick for a substandard cookbook. I assure you, it is not. It is by far, my favorite cookbook that I own. Really.
2 Tablespoons – fresh chopped garlic
1/2 Tablespoon – fresh chopped ginger
4 Tablespoons – fresh lemon juice
1 Tablespoon – light olive oil or canola oil
1 Tablespoon – ground coriander
1 teaspoon – ground cumin
1 1/2 teaspoon – garam masala
1/2 teaspoon – ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon – salt
1/2 teaspoon – ground green cardamom
2 lbs – skinless boneless chicken breasts, cut into 1.5 inch pieces (or you can use chicken tenderloin pieces left whole)
bamboo skewers (soaked in water for 30 minutes) so they don’t burn
** If you only have garlic or ginger in a jar or lemon juice in the plastic fake lemon, I suppose you could use that (although I gag at the thought).
*** You should be able to find all the spices in a regular grocery store. If not, you can definitely find them at Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods. Don’t baulk at the price of the spices (not too bad I think). Once you make these, you’ll fall in love with them and you will be making them over and over again .
Finishing sauce (after they come off the grill) – totally optional.
1/4 cup- melted butter – optional
1/2 teaspoon – garam masala – optional
3 – green onions, sliced – optional
Combine all the ingredients (except for the chicken) in a small food processor, or blender (if you don’t have the “equipment” then make sure that the garlic and ginger are very finely chopped almost until a paste). Put the chicken pieces in a gallon plastic seal-type bag. Pour the blended wet rub over the chicken. Close the bag and make sure most of the air is removed. With your hands outside of the plastic bag, “massage” the chicken pieces to make sure they are well coated. Let the chicken sit in the wet rub for at least 12 hours, preferable 24 in the fridge.
After the chicken pieces have absorbed all the goodness, skewer some pieces of chicken and then brush a bit of olive oil or use some cooking spray to lightly coat (sometimes I chop an onion and green bell pepper into 2 square in pieces and weave the pieces between the chicken pieces). Throw them on a preheated (medium-high) grill for 10-15 minutes (5-7 minutes on each side). * The timing really depends on your grill. Test one to make sure the chicken is cooked. You can also bake in a 400 degree oven for 20 minutes if access to a grill is not possible.
**Optional – After the skewers are cooked, combine the melted butter and garam masala and brush onto the chicken. Sprinkle with chopped green onions. I usually like to serve the kabobs over a bed of basmati rice or an Indian-style pilaf (recipe for next time).
Note: If you are only cooking for one or two persons, you can freeze 1/2 the chicken (after it’s marinated, but before it’s cooked) and use it later. It defrosts wonderfully in the fridge and makes the flavors even better!