Grilled Masala and Lemongrass Chicken Thighs
With a little planning, you can do all your cooking on the grill and avoid heating up the kitchen during the hottest months. Refreshing side dishes like fruits and salads, which require no cooking, make great accompaniments to those delicious grilled meat and vegetables.
Grilled foods need not be fat and greasy. Make them healthy with leaner cuts of meat. Instead of traditional barbecue sauce every time, use dry rubs and spices to create exciting new flavors. Low-fat yogurt works really well as a binderit helps keep the meat juicy and moist with the advantage of an added layer of flavor.
Chicken is one of my favorites for the grill, and one of my favorite cuts is boneless, skinless chicken thighs. The meat is moist and flavorful, and it cooks relatively quickly. I like to enhance flavor with a myriad of marinades. Boneless, skinless thighs are also widely available, and one of the best buys in the meat case.
One of the challenges of grilling chickenor any meat for that matteris the tendency for it to burn and dry out. Boneless chicken without its protective skin is especially susceptible to this problem. Heat control is crucial. It should be high enough to cook the meat through, but not so high as to char the meat. A medium-low heat under a cover works best. This allows the meat to cook evenly without drying out.
Today's recipe is a simple yet flavorful one. I marinated the thighs with a combination of store-bought garam masala, lemongrass, onion, and low-fat yogurt. I was really pleased with the outcomethe meat was very tasty and moist, fragrant with garam masala and lemongrass. This recipe is definitely a keeper; the family thoroughly enjoyed it.
Garam masala, which means "hot mixture" in Hindi, is a blend of ground spices, mainly coriander, cumin, fennel, cardamom, peppercorn, cloves, cinnamon, ginger, and bay leaves. The combination differs region by region, family by family, and person by person. Garam masala is best made fresh with whole toasted spices and ground together. Garam masala mixtures are widely available at most grocery stores, as well.
Lemongrass, on the other hand, is an herb from the tropics, best known in Southeast Asia. It has a lemony flavor and aroma that combines well with garam masala. Always use fresh (or fresh-frozen) lemongrass, and only use the white parts. Fresh lemongrass can be trimmed and kept frozen for months. I do not recommend using dried lemongrassit is tough and usually devoid of both flavor and aroma.
Grilled Masala and Lemongrass Chicken
Yield: 4 to 6 servings
Prep Time: 10 mins
Cook Time: 21 mins
10 pcs (2 lbs/900g) skinless boneless chicken thighs
1 tsp salt
1 lemongrass, white part only
1 tbsp garam masala
2 tbsp (30ml) plain low-fat yogurt
Grind lemongrass and onion in a blender or food processor. Add a little water if necessary.
Pour into a bowl. Add garam masala and yogurt. Mix well.
Sprinkle salt over the chicken thighs in a large bowl. Add spice paste. Stir to get chicken thighs well coated with spice paste. Allow chicken to marinate in the refrigerator for at least an hour.
Pre-heat an outdoor grill to medium heat, about 250°F to 300°F (120°C to 150°C). Brush the hot grates of the grill with a little oil.
Arrange the chicken pieces on the preheated grill. Brush the tops of chicken pieces with oil. Allow them to cook for about 16 minutes, turning once mid-way.
Increase heat slightly to brown meat, turning whenever necessary. This will take another 5 minutes.
Remove and serve immediately.
To keep the meal light and fresh, I served the chicken with a cold Cucumber and Tomato Raita, a side dish dressed with yogurt, cumin, mustard seeds, and mint leaves. It was a nice counterpoint to the grilled chicken. Other side dishes like steamed corn-on-the cob or a tossed vegetable salad would also be delicious. For dessert, we had homemade Cantaloupe and Mango Sorbet.
Enjoy.....and have a wonderful day!
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