Tamarind Aioli with Spiced Coconut Chicken Kebabs

By • May 26, 2011 • 14 Comments



Author Notes: Inspired by an unexpected gift of fresh turmeric from a client’s garden, I decided to make a spice rub for chicken. I wanted something conducive to dipping in aioli, so went with kebabs, marinating in not only yogurt, but also fragrant coconut milk. Bright and sour, tamarind paste aioli is perfectly matched with the aromatic spiced chicken. By only marinating the chicken, broiled dates, zucchini and onion provide a balance in flavor; they contrast the aromatic chicken and zesty aioli with their natural sweetness. - gingerroot
gingerroot

Food52 Review: Have you ever lifted the cover off whatever has been marinating and said out loud, “Oh, this is going to be good!” That’s what happened this evening as I was skewering the sublimely fragrant chunks of chicken to test this terrific recipe. And oh, was I right. I added a second zucchini, and when everything was cooked, we wrapped the chicken, veggies and dates (brilliant!) in some roti, a thin Indian flatbread I made for the occasion, and slathered on the delicious, slightly tart tamarind aioli. That and a thick slice of watermelon made the perfect dinner on a hot summer night. Outstanding! - AntoniaJames AntoniaJames

Serves 3-4

For Tamarind Aioli

  • 1 large garlic clove, minced
  • Salt
  • 1 large egg yolk, room temperature
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, measured into a small container with a spout
  • 1/2 cup canola or vegetable oil
  • 1/2 lime, cut into two wedges
  • 3/4 teaspoons tamarind paste (I used Neera’s brand – tamarind fruit without pulp or seeds)
  • 2-3 teaspoons fresh cilantro, finely chopped
  1. Using a paring knife, make two shallow crosswise slits, about ½ inch apart, in each lime wedge. This will ensure you will get the most juice out of each wedge when squeezed. Set aside.
  2. Place garlic and a good pinch of salt in a metal bowl (if you have one with a rubber bottom, use it. It will help stabilize your bowl as you whisk). Mash mixture into a paste using a pestle. Add yolk and begin whisking vigorously till thickened. Squeeze one of lime wedges into bowl, continuing to whisk until smooth and combined. Slowly add olive oil, a drop or two at a time, making sure to emulsify before each addition. As you continue to add and whisk, if your aioli is thick and holding together, you can begin to add in a more continuous stream until you’ve added all the olive oil. Repeat with canola oil until all has been added and mixture is thick. Fold in tamarind paste, tasting and adding more lime juice as needed. Fold in cilantro to taste. Transfer to a small jar with a tight fitting lid and refrigerate until needed. Use within a few days.

For Kebabs

  • For Spice Paste
  • 1 teaspoon whole coriander seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon whole cumin seeds
  • 1/4 teaspoon whole fennel seeds
  • 1 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated turmeric (my piece was about 1 ½ in, a little wider than my pinky)
  • 2 medium to large garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
  • Pinch cayenne, to taste
  • ++++++++++++++++++++++
  • For Chicken, Vegetables and Dates
  • 1 3/4 pound skinless boneless chicken thighs (preferably organic), cut into 1½-2 inch pieces
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 lime, cut into two wedges, each with two crosswise slits as described above
  • 1/4 cup Greek yogurt
  • 1/2 cup coconut milk (shake can before opening)
  • 1 medium zucchini
  • 1 medium onion
  • 6 Medjool dates, pitted
  1. FOR SPICE PASTE: Using a mortar and pestle, combine coriander, cumin, and fennel and crush until coarsely ground and fragrant. Add grated turmeric, chopped garlic and pinch (or two) of cayenne to taste. Grind until combined into a paste. Set aside.
  2. MARINATING CHICKEN: Place chicken in a glass container large enough for marinating, the kind with a silicone sealing lid if you have one (Glasslock). Season chicken with salt and juice from the lime wedges; use your hands to toss pieces and evenly coat. Wash your hands. Using a rubber spatula, scrape spice paste from mortar and add to chicken. Add yogurt, coconut milk and mix thoroughly with spatula, stirring to coat. Cover and refrigerate for two hours.
  3. PREP VEGETABLES: Peel and trim ends off onion. Cut onion in half. Slice each half into thick wedges. Remove the smallest, innermost layer from each wedge and reserve for another use. Separate each wedge into two pieces (see photo). This will make it easier to thread on skewers. Set aside.
  4. Trim ends from zucchini. Thickly slice, and then cut each slice in half. Set aside.
  5. Slice each pitted date in half crosswise. Set aside.
  6. MAKE KEBABS: Preheat broiler. Prepare 10-12 metal skewers and broiling pan by lightly oiling with PAM or brushing with an oiled paper towel. Thread chicken, onion, zucchini and dates onto skewers as desired. I made alternating skewers with chicken /onion, chicken/zucchini, and chicken /date. Thread chicken and vegetables/dates separately if desired. Place kebabs on broiling pan and cook through until lightly browned, 8-12 minutes, turning each skewer every 3 minutes.
  7. Carefully remove chicken, vegetables and dates from skewers and arrange on a serving platter or shallow wide bowl. Serve immediately with Tamarind aioli and brown rice (if desired). Enjoy!

Tags: bright, chicken, savory, Tamarind

Comments (14) Questions (0)

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about 3 years ago AntoniaJames

AntoniaJames is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

When testing this recipe for my EP review, I had extra marinade, as I was cooking just for Mr. T and me. I used that for marinating cubes of paneer, then broiled them on skewers. Terrific! This is such a good recipe, on so many levels. We're having a lot of fun with fork-free meals, in which we wrap broiled, fried, etc. proteins + veggies with freshly made roti. This is simply perfect for that (and as I noted in my EP review, perfect for summer eating). I strongly encourage everyone to try it!! ;o)

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about 3 years ago gingerroot

Thank you so much for your enthusiastic and thoughtful comments, AJ! I love the idea of marinating paneer in the coconut milk mixture as well as enjoying all of this in some homemade roti. Nothing makes me happier than having someone I really admire (as a person, as an accomplished cook/amazing baker) enjoy one of my recipes!

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about 3 years ago sdebrango

Suzanne is a trusted source on General Cooking.

What an amazing combination of flavors. Love it!

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about 3 years ago gingerroot

Thanks you, sdebrango! The sweet coconut subtly contrasts the sour tamarind in a delicious way. Actually the roasted dates with the aioli are pretty tasty as well.

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about 3 years ago aargersi

Abbie is a trusted source on General Cooking.

Seriously, I want to come to your house for dinner some day

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about 3 years ago gingerroot

Aww, thanks a! The feeling is mutual!!

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about 3 years ago hardlikearmour

hardlikearmour is a trusted home cook.

Me too! This sounds amazing (just like everything you make!)

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about 3 years ago gingerroot

Thanks, hla! Same goes for you...I'd love to be a guest at your table!

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about 3 years ago wssmom

Ooooo, and I just bought little kebab baskets, too! Can't wait!

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about 3 years ago gingerroot

Thanks, wssmom! I'd love to hear your thoughts if you make this!

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about 3 years ago boulangere

Cynthia is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

LOVE tamarind!

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about 3 years ago gingerroot

Me too! Occasionally you'll encounter a tamarind tree here and I remember as a kid tasting the fruit right from the pod and loving it.

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about 3 years ago TiggyBee

I love your recipe. Your flavors are amazing!

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about 3 years ago gingerroot

Thanks so much, TiggyBee! I love South Asian/Southeast Asian flavors and would be happy eating them everyday!