Aromatic grilled chicken

Atul Kochhars smoky grilled chicken is infused with coconut milk and spices for a truly aromatic flavour
By Atul Kochhar
Aromatic grilled chicken
  • Rating:
  • Serves: 4
  • Cook Time: 35 minutes
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Effort: easy


For the toasted spices

  • ½ tsp coriander seeds
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds
  • 3 cm cinnamon sticks
  • ½ tsp black peppercorns

For the aromatic paste

  • 3 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 4 shallots, roughly chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 3 cm fresh ginger
  • 2 stalks of lemongrass, trimmed and finely chopped
  • 3 vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 2 red chilli, finely chopped
  • 400 ml coconut milk
  • 1 tbsp tamarind pulp
  • 2 tsp muscovado sugar
  • 6 chicken thighs, skinless and boneless


1. Heat a small, sturdy griddle over a low heat and cook the coriander and fennel seeds, cinnamon stick and peppercorns for about a minute until they give off a warm spicy aroma. Using a mortar and pestle, pound them to a powder. You could also use a coffee grinder for this. Leave on one side.

2. Finely chop the shallots, garlic and ginger. Alternatively, put the ingredients in a small food processor, add a splash of water to moisten and blend until smooth.

3. Heat the oil in a deep sided frying pan set over a low heat and soften the shallot mixture for 5 minutes without colouring.

4. Add the chopped lemongrass to the pan and continue cooking for 5 minutes. Stir in the turmeric and finely chopped red chillies and fry for another 30 seconds. Tip in the ground mixed spice mixture.

5. Pour in the coconut milk and add the sugar and tamarind and bring to a simmer. Put the chicken in the pan and cook uncovered over a low heat for about 15 minutes until the sauce has cooked down into a paste and clings to the chicken. Add a splash of water if the sauce catches on the bottom of the pan.

6. Heat a grill to its hottest setting. Thread the chicken onto skewers and cook on a rack under the grill for about 3 minutes on each side until the chicken colours and develops a smoky aroma. These skewers are traditionally cooked over charcoal for an authentic char-grilled flavour.

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