Chicken Kebabs with Cilantro-Lime Chutney

chicken kebabs
Photo: Lucy Shaeffer

In this take on a well-known Indian dish, cubes of chicken breast are flavored and tenderized in a spice laden yogurt marinade. The skewered and grilled meat is served with a complex and brightly flavored Cilantro-Lime Chutney. Serve over a pile a steamed basmati rice.


Serves 4 as a main course, 8 as an appetizer

  • 4 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup plain yogurt
  • One 11/2-inch piece 1-inch-thick fresh ginger, peeled and sliced into coins
  • 3 large cloves garlic, peeled
  • 1 tablespoon ground coriander seed
  • 11/2 teaspoons ground cumin seed
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 3/4 teaspoon Garam Masala Spice Blend (recipe follows)
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 2 1/4 pounds skinless boneless chicken breast cut into 1 1/2-inch cubes (see Note)
  • 3 tablespoons melted unsalted butter, preferably ghee or clarified butter
  • Fresh cilantro or mint leaves for garnish
  • 1 recipe Cilantro-Lime Chutney (recipe follows)



Step 1: Put 3 tablespoons of the lime juice, the oil, yogurt, ginger, garlic, coriander, cumin, black pepper, cayenne, garam masala, and salt in the bowl of a food processor. Process until smooth, or nearly so. Combine thoroughly with the chicken in a mixing bowl. Cover and marinate in the refrigerator for 4 to 12 hours, turning the pieces over in the marinade once or twice.

Step 2: Thread pieces of chicken on skewers, using about 4 per skewer, clustering the pieces together. Let the chicken sit at room temperature for about 30 minutes before cooking. Combine the melted ghee or butter and the remaining 1 tablespoon lime juice and reserve.

Step 3: Grill kabobs on an oiled grill or grill pan over medium heat, turning to expose all 4 sides to the heat, until just cooked through, 9 to 12 minutes total. If the chicken threatens to burn, reduce the heat or move to a cooler part of the grill. During the last few seconds of cooking, brush the kababs with the reserved lime butter and arrange on a platter or serving plates. Garnish with the cilantro or mint leaves and serve with Cilantro-Lime Chutney spooned over the kababs or on the side.

Cilantro-Lime Chutney

Makes about 1 1/4 cups

  • One 1-inch piece 1-inch diameter fresh ginger, peeled and sliced into coins
  • 2 to 3 serrano peppers, or 2 small jalapeño peppers, seeded
  • Six 6-inch lengths of scallion greens (tops), chopped
  • 2 cups very tightly packed fresh cilantro, with thin stems (about 2 very large bunches), coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 cup tightly packed fresh mint leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin seed
  • 3/4 teaspoon Garam Masala Spice Blend (recipe follows)
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup fresh lime juice

Combine all the ingredients except the lime juice in the bowl of a food processor. Process until finely chopped, pulsing and scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed (this make take a few tries as the herbs can be stubborn). Add the lime juice and process until a bright green paste forms. It should be spreadable but not quite fluid. Pulse in small amounts of lime juice, oil, or water to thin, if necessary. Serve or transfer to an airtight container and store in the refrigerator for up to a week.

Garam Masala Spice Blend

Makes 1 1/2 teaspoons

  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom

In a small bowl, combine all spices and use immediately or store in an airtight container.


Because of the irregular shape of chicken breasts, it is not always possible to cut 2 pounds of perfect 1 1/2-inch cubes, as called for in this recipe. To ensure even cooking, cut any thinner parts a bit longer than the others and fold these pieces when placing them on the skewers to approximate the size of the properly cut cubes.

You'll want to use this trick on the tender strip of meat on the underside of each breast half. Detach the tender, pull out the tendon running down its center with the help of paring knife (or just by grabbing it with fingers), and cut the tender into 2 or 3 pieces and fold as described.

If using wooden skewers, soak them in water for at least 30 minutes before threading them with the meat, and then wrap the long, exposed portion of wood with aluminum foil before putting them on the grill.

Recipe courtesy of Lobel's Meat Bible.