Zesty Tikka-inspired Marinade for Kebabs

August 12, 2012
Zesty Tikka-inspired Marinade for Kebabs

Author Notes: I have an Indian cookbook that I picked up for $5 years ago in the bargain section of the LAST REAL BOOKSTORE in my neighborhood. I bought the book because it has beautiful photos and hoped the recipes were just as tantalizing - and they are. It was put together by a group of people who traveled all over India for great recipes and every recipe I have made from this book is terrific. The tikka recipe is wonderful and has a lot of ingredients, so I have whittled it down and made substitutions over the years. The following recipe is a kind of minimalist recipe that could be enhanced by garam masala or curry powder mix, or even tamarind or other directions.
I throw whole cloves of garlic with 1/2" cubes of ginger into the food proceesor and pulse before adding the cilantro, but this could made by hand by just mincing everything.

Makes: 2 cups marinade for approx. 3-1/2 lbs. meat


  • 1-1/2 cups buttermilk, full-fat yogurt, or full-fat coconut milk
  • 1 head garlic (or 1/4 cup minced)
  • 1 1" x 1" x 4" piece of ginger (or 1/4 c. minced)
  • 1-1/2 cups cilantro,including stems,loosely packed
  • 1-1/2 tablespoons paprika
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1-2 teaspoons hot sauce or sriracha or other hotness
  • 3-4 pounds chicken or lamb or other*
In This Recipe


  1. * Cut meat into roughly 2" cubes (to thread on skewers later) OR, cut meat into "tenders" that are 2" wide and 4-6" long. Place in a shallow dish large enough to accommodate a big soupy marinade to be added. Even hearty fish, like monkfish, halibut, haddock or cod could be used.
  2. Peel garlic cloves and place in bowl of food processor; peel and cut ginger into 1/2" chunks and add to garlic. Pulse a few times then process into rough chopped mix, and stop to scrape sides of bowl as needed.
  3. Add cilantro to chopped mixture and process a few more seconds until green stems are small. Add remaining ingredients and pulse few times to incorporate thoroughly.
  4. Pour over chicken/meat making sure all pieces are coated. Marinate in the refrigerator for a couple of hours or even overnight. WARNING: cover the dish tightly, then wrap in several plastic grocery bags if you want to prevent the refrigerator from smelling strongly of garlic and ginger!
  5. Before grilling pour off any excess marinade but do not wipe off meat/chicken. Thread chunks onto skewers, alternating with thin chunks of sweet onion and squares of bell pepper or other desired veggies, if making kebabs. When grilling do a test run to determine correct amount of time on grill as it will vary.

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