Chickeeeen! Because who doesn’t like chicken, especially when it’s this easy and delicious; but first let’s catch up a little. Those of you who know the husband will be familiar with his absolute all consuming love for beer and the only thing that can compete with his love for beer is his love for Formula 1! If it’s a race weekend, every other plan we might have for the weekend has to be worked around race timings, be it socilaising, shopping or even just eating; there have been times when we have declined lunch and dinner invitations because of a race, I kid you not! Last weekend the Formula 1 grand prix was being held in Singapore and since Jakarta is practically next door, it was high time we got this race off our list. I’m not a F1 fan, not by a long shot but I have to say, I enjoy the grand prix experience; unlike the husband I don’t watch every car on every lap and every minute of the race but just being there, you feel the excitement in the air, the atmosphere is super charged, and everyone is on the lookout for that one perfect spot which has a clear view of the circuit and is close to the beer/ drinks stall and of course the sound of a formula 1 car racing is like nothing you could have experienced. There are thousands of people- from the diehard fans to the curious ones to the party people, everyone wanting in on a slice of the grand prix action. The races are usually followed by music concerts and the food and drinks flow nonstop late into the night; in this case at least as this was a night race. So even if you’re not a fan of motor racing, it’s worth attending at least one race just to experience the excitement and speed. Also, having attended other races, I have to say the Singapore GP was extremely well organized which made the entire experience that much more enjoyable.
So these chicken kebabs are again courtesy my mother in law; well actually it’s our cook Pep Singhji’s recipe adapted by Mama and passed onto me so I guess I have both of them to thank for this smoky piece of work. These kebabs, apart from the usual spices are also marinated with kachri powder, which is a typical Rajasthani ingredient. Kachri is a wild variety of cucumber and looks like tiny melons; kachri in all forms (fresh, dried and powdered) is used extensively in a lot of the local Rajasthani food, on its own, with other vegetables and also in meat dishes, dried kachri especially adds a lovely tangy flavour when used in meat dishes. However, I do realise kachri is not easily available outside of Rajasthan so you can substitute it with amchur (dried mango powder) which has a similar flavour profile.
These kebabs are super easy, require minimum ingredients and effort and are an absolutely lip smacking snack or appetizer. Marinate it the night before and all you have to do the next day is put it in the oven to cook. The kebabs come out juicy and succulent with a hint of tang from the kachri and the smokiness it imparts, takes it to another level, of course you can leave out that step if you’re not a fan of smoky flavour. It goes especially well with drinks and is easy to serve and eat, so it should be a must make at your next party.
- Boneless chicken cubes (about 1 inch)- 1 kg
- Garlic paste- 2 tbsp
- Chili powder- 3-4 tsp
- Coriander powder- 2 tsp
- Salt- 1 ½ tsp
- Kachri powder- 3 tsp (can use amchur/ dried mango powder instead)
- Ghee (or oil)- 3-4 tsp + extra for smoking
- Charcoal- for smoking
- To the chicken add all the ingredients and mix well. Transfer the chicken to a heat proof bowl with a tight fitting lid, place a piece of aluminum foil deep in the centre of the bowl, the live coal will be placed on this.
- Heat a piece of charcoal over an open flame till red from all sides. Place the live coal on the foil; pour ghee (1-2 tsp) over the coal and quickly cover the bowl with foil and then with a fitted lid. Once cool refrigerate the bowl as is, overnight or as long as possible.
- Preheat the oven to 200 C. Skewer the chicken pieces (tightly) together or if you don’t have skewers, put the chicken in a baking tray. Bake for 20 minutes or until fully cooked; cooking time will depend on the size of the chicken pieces.
- Repeat the smoking process with the cooked chicken. Serve with a fresh mint-coriander chutney and lime wedges.
- Since Kachri powder is not easily available everywhere, you can use amchur/ dried mango powder instead.
- Place the chicken pieces in a baking tray if you don’t have or don’t want to use skewers.
- If using wooden skewers, remember to soak them in water first so the skewers don’t burn.
- Letting the chicken marinate overnight is best but not necessary, you can also cook it straight away.
- If you don’t like smoky flavours, leave out that step.