The words "healthful, grilled chicken" might ordinarily elicit a bored yawn, but this recipes flies in the face of that reputation with an enthralling tapestry of spices and a succulent tenderness that makes you want to dance around the kitchen, or at the very least break out into jazz hands.
The dish gets its bold flavor from an Indian tandoori-style blend of spices and aromatics — ginger, garlic, cumin, coriander, turmeric, paprika and crushed red pepper — which are whirred in a food processor with a heap of fresh cilantro, lemon juice and oil to form a pesto-like marinade. After three (or up to 10) hours in the marinade, the chicken is imbued with flavor.
Finished with a bright spritz of lemon juice and a shower of fresh cilantro, this is a delectable dish that just may change your mind about healthful grilled chicken for good.
Cilantro Tandoori-Spiced Grilled Chicken
- 3 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
- 1 tablespoon coarsely chopped fresh ginger OR ½ teaspoon ground ginger
- 1 ¼ cups fresh cilantro leaves and tender stems, plus more for garnish
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil, plus more for brushing the pan
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- ½ teaspoon ground cumin
- ½ teaspoon ground coriander
- ½ teaspoon ground turmeric
- ½ teaspoon paprika
- ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 ½ pounds skinless boneless chicken thighs or breasts
- Lemon wedges, for serving
In the bowl of a food processor pulse the garlic and the fresh ginger (if using) until very finely chopped. Add the cilantro, oil, lemon juice, 1 tablespoon water, ground ginger (if using), cumin, coriander, turmeric, paprika, crushed red pepper flakes, salt and pepper and puree until fairly uniform, stopping to push down the sides as needed; the cilantro will look like tiny confetti.
In a shallow, rimmed dish or zip-top plastic bag, combine the chicken with the marinade and toss to coat. Cover the dish with a large plate or seal the bag and refrigerate for at least 3 hours and up to 10 hours.
When ready to cook, prepare your gas or charcoal grill for direct-heat grilling or heat a grill pan over medium-high heat. Brush the grates with oil. Place the chicken, with the marinade still clinging to it, onto the grill or grill pan and reduce the heat to medium. Cook without moving the chicken for 5 to 7 minutes; flip the chicken and repeat with the other side until cooked through; the temperature should read 165 on an instant-read thermometer.
Divide the chicken among plates, garnish with the lemon wedges and cilantro, and serve.
Makes 4 servings.
Nutrition information: Each serving contains approximately 275 calories, 34 g protein, 14 g fat, 2 g carbohydrate (no sugar), 141 mg cholesterol, 291 mg sodium and 1 g fiber.
Carbohydrate choices: 0.