Tamarind Aioli with Spiced Coconut Chicken Kebabs

May 26, 2011
4 Ratings
  • Serves 3-4
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

Test Kitchen Notes

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

What You'll Need
  • 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 teaspoon tamarind paste (I used Neera’s brand – tamarind fruit without pulp or seeds)
  • 2-3 teaspoons fresh cilantro, finely chopped
  • 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 teaspoons 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 pounds 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 Tamarind Aioli
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  1. For Kebabs
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. Trim ends from zucchini. Thickly slice, and then cut each slice in half. Set aside.
  6. Slice each pitted date in half crosswise. Set aside.
  7. 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.
  8. 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!

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • AntoniaJames
  • aargersi
  • wssmom
  • boulangere
  • TiggyBee

Recipe by: gingerroot

My most vivid childhood memories have to do with family and food. As a kid, I had the good fortune of having a mom who always encouraged trying new things, and two grandmothers who invited me into their kitchens at a young age. I enjoy cooking for the joy it brings me - sharing food with loved ones - and as a stress release. I turn to it equally during good times and bad. Now that I have two young children, I try to be conscientious about what we cook and eat. Right about the time I joined food52, I planted my first raised bed garden and joined a CSA; between the two I try to cook as sustainably and organically as I can. Although I'm usually cooking alone, my children are my favorite kitchen companions and I love cooking with them. I hope when they are grown they will look back fondly at our time spent in the kitchen, as they teach their loved ones about food-love. Best of all, after years on the mainland for college and graduate school, I get to eat and cook and raise my children in my hometown of Honolulu, HI. When I'm not cooking, I am helping others grow their own organic food or teaching schoolchildren about art.

12 Reviews

AntoniaJames June 24, 2011
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)
gingerroot June 24, 2011
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!
aargersi May 26, 2011
Seriously, I want to come to your house for dinner some day
gingerroot May 26, 2011
Aww, thanks a! The feeling is mutual!!
hardlikearmour May 26, 2011
Me too! This sounds amazing (just like everything you make!)
gingerroot May 27, 2011
Thanks, hla! Same goes for you...I'd love to be a guest at your table!
wssmom May 26, 2011
Ooooo, and I just bought little kebab baskets, too! Can't wait!
gingerroot May 26, 2011
Thanks, wssmom! I'd love to hear your thoughts if you make this!
boulangere May 26, 2011
LOVE tamarind!
gingerroot May 26, 2011
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.
TiggyBee May 26, 2011
I love your recipe. Your flavors are amazing!
gingerroot May 26, 2011
Thanks so much, TiggyBee! I love South Asian/Southeast Asian flavors and would be happy eating them everyday!