Chicken Malai Kebab / Creamy Grilled Chicken

Kebab is one of the most well-known meat dishes that the Middle-East has given to the world. But India has its own set of kebabs and Chicken Malai Kebab ranks quite high in popularity.

A kebab consists of pieces of marinated meat, on a skewer, that is grilled or barbecued. The Indian array of kebabs feature different spice and herb combos. Then they are grilled in a tandoor or on open fire on coal embers giving it the classic smoky flavour that is to die for. This is one of the best street treats you can find in India.

Malai means cream and as the name goes, Chicken malai kebab consist of succulent pieces of boneless chicken, marinated in a creamy base with a hint of spices. Once grilled, these are dripping with mouth-watering goodness. These kebabs are mild in their spice level. You can always increase the green chilli or pepper for more heat.

 



 

Which meat to use:

Quite often I hear discussion about what pieces of chicken should be used for grilling. Although the current health trend favours leaner cuts of meat, the extra fat on the thigh meat is in fact essential during grilling. As chicken can go dry pretty quick once on the heat, I do not prefer using chicken breast meat for this recipe. The last thing I would want is dehydrated chicken that tastes drab. Thus not only should you go for the thigh meat but also preserve the tags of fat that come with it; this is where the real magic lies in getting those soft, succulent pieces of meat.

Marination allows the chicken to get married with all the flavours you are coating it in. If in a hurry, 2 hours is fine but I would always suggest to plan ahead and give 8-10 hours marination time. This even tenderises the meat and the end result is always a notch higher.

Quick tip: To make matters simple, use a zipper bag and dump all the marinade ingredients and mix in the bag itself. Throw in the chicken pieces, remove the air and zip it up. Now just massage the marinade into the chicken.

That’s no mess, no fuss and 1 less container to wash!

Skewers: Bamboo skewers or satay sticks are easily available anywhere. To prevent them from burning, always soak them in water for at least 30 minutes. Or you can go ahead and use metal skewers.

Now let’s dive into this recipe.

Makes 5 skewers

Ingredients

  • 500 gm chicken thigh fillets
  • Oil for basting as required
  • For the marinade
  1.  1/4 cup Cream cheese
  2. 2 tbsp thick yogurt
  3. 2 tsp ginger paste
  4. 2 tsp garlic paste
  5. 1 and 1/2 tsp crushed green chilli (this is as per taste)
  6. Pinch of grated nutmeg
  7. Pinch of green cardamom powder
  8. 2 tsp salt
  9. 1-2 tsp white pepper (black pepper is good too!)

Method

  • Cut rectangular pieces of chicken approximately 1 inch by 2 inch.
  • Put all the ingredients of the marinade in a zipper bag or bowl and mix well such that there are no lumps.
  • Add the chicken pieces, and rub the mix well. Leave this to marinate in the refrigerator for 8-10 hours, overnight is ideal.
  • When ready to grill, skewer the strips lengthwise folding twice shaped like a S, such that each piece gets pricked thrice. (Imagine S to $) Most skewers should accommodate 3-4 pieces.
  • Grill the skewers in whichever method you choose. (See note below.) Use oil for basting.
  • Grill until chicken is cooked through, and there are beautiful char marks on the edges.
  • Indication that the chicken is cooked is, the juices run clear and there are no pink bits in the centre of the meat.

 

Chicken Malai Kebab

Methods to grill the kebab

  1. If you are lucky, you would get access to a tandoor and the burning coal to get the authentic smoky kebab flavor and aroma.
  2. Fire up the barbie! That’s how Aussies refer to the barbecue 🙂
  3. Oven: Preheat to 180 ° C and then cook for 15 minutes, turning halfway in between. After that, grill or broil for 10 minutes.
  4. And if you are like me, with none of the above resources, it is worthwhile to invest in a grill pan. I use a cast-iron grill pan for grilling kebabs in my very own home kitchen. A non-stick grill pan is another option.
  5. Just a regular pan or skillet.

How to serve

  1. As a starter – These kebabs are so flavourful, they make for an impressive starter. Just couple it up with some mint and coriander chutney and pickled onion rings.
  2. In a salad – If you love your veggies and salads make up most of your meals, 2 skewers of these kebabs can be an excellent source of protein.
  3. In a wrap – Take any flat bread, and layer with your choice of dressings and greens. You can even use lettuce wraps for a low-carb option.
  4. Chicken malai kebabs are loved by kids as they are mild and creamy.

Variations

Try a vegetarian spin on this with Paneer (Indian cottage cheese) or parboiled baby potatoes.

 

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Chicken Malai Kebab
Chicken Malai Kebab

 

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Fancy another version of chicken kebab that is spicier? Click here for my Chicken Tikka recipe

 

Low-Calorie Butter Chicken / Murgh Makhani

If there was a poll, “Which recipe do you associate with India?”, (to non-Indians, of course) the top answer would surely be Butter Chicken! Without doubt, it is the most popular chicken recipe from India.

Also called Murgh (chicken) Makhani (butter), it has smokey pieces of succulent chicken lathered in a rich, aromatic gravy. The gravy is mild and not-so-spicy and that’s why it is much enjoyed by people all over the world.

As the name goes, there is butter, lots of it! And some heavy cream to add the richness to the gravy. Hence it may crease your dietitian’s forehead. But you love it nevertheless, except the calories that come uninvited. But hey! You have reached the right place as today I am sharing with you my low-calorie, low-fat version.

Can you guess the secret ingredient for this no-guilt indulgence.

Butter Chicken
Butter Chicken

I make chicken tikkas first. Tikkas are nothing but marinated chicken pieces that are grilled to give them an alluring, smokey flavor and look. Next, is the super silky gravy in which the tikkas are rolled in. The last and the best thing left to do roll up your sleeves and lose yourself in the world of Murgh Makhani!!

This tasty gravy dish is usually served with roti or naan or even goes well with a bowl of steaming hot Basmati rice. Hopefully by now I have got your taste-buds charged up, so lets get cooking!

Butter Chicken with Naan and tikka
Butter Chicken with Naan and tikka
Butter Chicken with Tikka
Butter Chicken with Tikka

BUTTER CHICKEN / MURGH MAKHANI

Serves 2 really hungry persons

Ingredients:

  • 500 gram diced boneless chicken
  • 1 onion finely chopped
  • 3-4 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 1/2 ” piece of ginger, finely chopped
  • Whole spices – 2 cloves, small piece cinnamon, 2 green cardamom pods, all slightly crushed together
  • 1/2 cup tomato paste
  • A pinch of ground turmeric
  • 2 tbsp Kashmiri chilli powder (adjust as per taste)
  • 1 tbsp coriander powder
  • 1 tbsp dried fenugreek leaves (Kasuri methi) – found at your local Indian grocer
  • 1/3 cup thick yogurt (I prefer the light Greek yoghurt)
  • 1/4 cup light cooking cream (can be omited)
  • 2 tsp butter
  • 2 tsp cooking oil + Oil for grilling tikkas, if required
  • Salt to taste
  • Coriander for garnish

For the marinade

  • 3-4 tbsp thick yogurt
  • 1 tsp each of ginger and garlic paste
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 tsp ground turmeric
  • 2 tsp Kashmiri chilli powder
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • 1 tsp coriander powder
  • 1-2 tsp sumac* (see note below)

Method

  • Prepare the marinade: Whisk the yogurt until smooth and add the ingredients under marinade. Coat the chicken pieces in the marinade. Best is, if you can leave it overnight to soak up all the flavours. Also, the lemon juice and yogurt tenderise the meat. If not, 4 hours is good enough or even 2 hours could do the trick.

NOTE: Sumac is a Middle-Eastern spice that has a dark red colour and a mild tangy taste. I use it for its colour in these tikkas. Always better using a spice than food colour, isn’t it? It can be left out if you cannot get your hands on it.

  • Grilling the chicken: Skewer the pieces and grill it either in the oven or BBQ. I just used a cast iron pan.
Chicken Tikka
Chicken Tikka
  • In another pan, take the butter and oil. The oil prevents the butter from burning. Saute the onion, ginger and garlic until fragrant.
  • Add the whole spices and add the tomato paste soon thereafter. Keep stirring throughout to prevent it from sticking or burning.
  • While continuously mixing, add the turmeric, chilli powder, coriander powder, and kasuri methi. Keep stirring till oil separates from the sides. If it is getting dry, splash some water.
  • Blend together the yogurt and cream and add slowly. All the while keep mixing to prevent the yogurt from splitting. You may completely omit the cream as the yogurt does the trick here. (Yes! U guessed it!)
  • Adjust the seasonings and then add the tikkas. Smear the gravy all over the pieces. Add some water if the gravy is very thick. (Take care not to add too much though.)
  • Lastly, garnish with the lovely coriander and a dash of the cream.

Variations:

  • Make it vegetarian by replacing chicken with Paneer – Indian cottage cheese.

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Low Calorie Butter Chicken
Low Calorie Butter Chicken

$15 off first two deliveries with HelloFresh



 

 

Keema Mutter/ Mince with Green Peas

Keema Mutter is one of the many delicacies that the Persians bought to India. Though this may not be like the one you would find in the Irani cafes of Mumbai, it is nevertheless full of delicious flavours. I have added coconut and slightly varied it to suit my Goan palate. Try my version of this aromatic Keema Mutter and I bet you will be licking your fingers!

 

I generally make a big batch as it freezes well. You may want to reduce the quantity. Also I have 4 recipes to use those leftovers, which are lovely starters or a meal by itself.

I have used turkey mince here. But go ahead and use meat of your choice (cooking times will vary). And if you are a vegetarian, you may use tofu instead. (Do not come to kill me if that flops though)

This recipe can easily feed 5-6 persons.

Ingredients:

  • Turkey mince – 500 gram
  • Onions – 2 medium sized, finely chopped
  • Green peas – 1/2 cup
  • Whole spices – 2 black peppercorns, 1 small stick cinnamon, 2 green cardamom, 1 bay leaf, 3-4 cloves
  • To be ground to a paste – a handful of coriander leaves and mint leaves, 1/2 onion, 1/4 cup grated coconut, 5-6 garlic cloves, small piece ginger, 2 black peppercorns, 2 cloves, 1 star anise
  • Tomato – 1, diced
  • Oil – 1 tbsp for roasting the spices and 1-2 tbsp for cooking
  • Chopped coriander and onion for garnish
  • Turmeric powder – 1 tsp
  • Red chilli powder (I use Kashmiri chilli powder) – 1-2 tsp
  • Garam masala – 1-2 tsp
  • Salt to taste
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • Optional – Boiled potato cubes

Method:

  • Heat the 1 tbsp oil a pan, and add the ingredients to be ground together, except for the herbs and ginger. (Start with the onion and then the spices so that the spices do not burn.) Roast these on low heat till the aroma of the spices fill your kitchen. (I sneeze, do you?) Take care not to burn it.IMG_20160717_195804
  • Once it cools, grind it along with the herbs, ginger and little water to a paste.
  • Now heat the remaining oil and spices. Add the chopped onion and saute well. Add salt and sweat the onions.
  • Then add the tomato and keep stirring till it gets mushed-up
  • Next add the ground paste and again saute well.
  • Stir in the turmeric, chilli and garam masala.
  • Add the mince and combine.
  • You may add a little water if necessary. The mince will leave water so take care not to add too much liquid.
  • Cover and cook. Add the green peas as well. If using frozen, add them once the mince is half cooked.
  • Let it cook covered for 10-12 minutes or until meat changes to a whitish colour. (At this point, you may add the boiled potatoes.)
  • Check the seasonings and add the fresh lemon juice. Stir well.
  • Garnish with chopped coriander and onion. Serve this hot keema mutter with pao (bun) or bread of your choice
Keema Mutter

As promised, there will be leftovers! And these are my favourite recipes to tackle them

  1. Keema patties (Recipe coming soon…)
  2. Keema paratha (Recipe coming soon…)
  3. Keema dumplings (Recipe coming soon…)
  4. Keema puffs

I hope you try this recipe my way. If you do, I would love to hear how it turned out to be. Follow me for more yummy recipes and share on social.

Thank you!

P.S. Cooking times are for chicken or turkey mince. If you are using red meat, try a pressure cooker to shorten cooking time.