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
1 large garlic clove, minced
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 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
Step 1Using 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.
Step 2Place 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.
Step 3FOR 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.
Step 4MARINATING 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.
Step 5PREP 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. \r\n
Step 6Trim ends from zucchini. Thickly slice, and then cut each slice in half. Set aside.
Step 7Slice each pitted date in half crosswise. Set aside.
Step 8MAKE 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.
Step 9Carefully 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!