1-1/2 tablespoons coriander seeds

2 teaspoons black peppercorns

1 teaspoon cumin seeds

6 cloves garlic, roughly chopped

one 2-inch piece ginger, peeled and thinly sliced

3 tablespoons vegetable oil

¼ cup water, or as needed

1 tablespoon cayenne pepper or hot paprika (This is not for the faint hearted.  I often knock the cayenne down to 1 teaspoon and it’s still plenty hot.)

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1-1/2 teaspoons Kosher salt

½ cup cilantro leaves,   chopped

one 4 pound chicken, cut into 8 pieces and skinned

For serving:

sliced red onion

thinly sliced limes and lemons

Cilantro sauce

Tamarind concentrate for dipping (see picture below)

Naan bread for serving

  1. Marinate the chicken. Toast the coriander seeds, peppercorns and cumin seeds in a small skillet over medium heat until fragrant, 1 to 2 minutes. Transfer to a coffee or spice mill or mortar and pestle and grind to a fine powder.
  1. Combine the ground spices, garlic, ginger, oil, water, cayenne, lemon juice and salt in a blender and puree to a paste. Transfer to a bowl and stir in the cilantro.  Add the chicken pieces and thoroughly coat with the spice paste.  Marinate in the refrigerator for 4 to 6 hours.
  1. Grill the chicken. Light 20 to 25 briquettes and when fire is medium hot (you can hold your hand 5 inches above the grill rack directly over the coals for 3 to 4 seconds), build a 2 level fire by pushing the coals onto half of the grill, piling them about 3 briquettes high. Oil the rack and heat it for 5 minutes.  If you are using a gas grill, preheat all burners to high, then reduce to medium-high.
  1. Grill chicken, skin side up, 3 minutes on the hotter side of the grill, basting with the marinade. Flip it over and grill 3 minutes on the other side. Move to the cooler side of the grill, skin side up, cover and grill 15 minutes longer, until an instant read thermometer registers 160* (do not touch the bone).  Let stand,  tented with foil, 10 minutes before serving.
  1. Serve with the onions, limes and lemons, cilantro sauce, tamarind concentrate and naan bread.


NOTE:  If you don’t have a grill the chicken can be broiled, about 5 inches from the flame, for 8 minutes on one side and 4 minutes on the other.  Finish cooking in a 350* oven for 10 to 15 minutes.

adapted from Amanda Hesser, The Essential New York Times Cookbook

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