Asian BBQ Chicken
Think of this dish as Chicken Teriyaki with a South Asian flair, or India meets the other flavors of Asia.
It sounds exotic but it’s actually pretty easy to make. The marinade is a simple mix of soy sauce, brown sugar, fresh lime juice, a bit of oil, garlic, ginger and spices. What makes it so unique is Garam Masala, an aromatic spice blend containing cinnamon, coriander, cardamom, cumin, nutmeg, mace, peppercorns and cloves.
There are countless variations of Garam Masala depending on the region but it’s most commonly used in Indian and South Asian cuisine — worth adding to your spice rack for sure. (Btw, you can get it at Whole Foods or other specialty markets.)
For the chicken, you’ll need boneless, skinless thighs. I know some people might turn their noses up, preferring all white meat instead, but I’m hoping you’ll give thighs a chance – they really do work best for this recipe. They’re juicier and more flavorful than chicken breasts, which makes them a much better match for the bold flavors here. The key is to get them from a good butcher so they are well-trimmed, neat and lean. I buy mine at Whole Foods. (Another plus: they’re much more economical than chicken breasts.)
After the chicken marinates a few hours, you simply grill it until it turns a dark, golden brown, then scatter the finely sliced scallions over top. Serve with basmati rice and enjoy.
Asian BBQ Chicken
¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons dark brown sugar, packed
¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons soy sauce
3 tablespoons fresh lime juice (you’ll need 2-3 limes)
1½ tablespoons canola or vegetable oil
½ teaspoon Asian sesame oil
¾ teaspoon Garam Masala (available at Whole Foods or other specialty food stores)
3 cloves garlic, minced
1½ teaspoons fresh ginger, grated*
½ teaspoon cayenne pepper (use more or less depending on how much heat you like)
8 skinless, boneless chicken thighs
2 scallions (light and dark green parts only), thinly sliced
1. In a medium bowl, mix together all ingredients except for chicken and scallions. Set ¼ cup of the marinade aside and cover (you’ll use this later for the sauce), then place the rest in a zip-lock freezer bag with the chicken thighs. Be sure chicken is evenly coated, then place bag in refrigerator (in a bowl in case of leakage); let marinate for 3-4 hours.
2. Preheat grill to high heat.
3. Grease grill. (Lightly dip a wad of paper towels in vegetable oil; then, using tongs, carefully rub over grates several times until glossy and coated - repeat as necessary.) Place chicken on the grill; cover and cook 3-5 minutes on each side, or until nicely browned and done. Place chicken on serving platter, then top with reserved marinade and sliced scallions. Serve hot.
*To grate fresh ginger, first peel the skin and then rub along a fine grater. Watch your fingers!!