A BBQ favourite

It has been another crazy week with us, and home cooking hasn’t been high on the agenda – between a 3 day work trip to sunny Mallorca, and an evening parents meeting at school, Avocado on toast was about as much as I could do! By the time Friday and the bank holiday weekend came around, I was ready to hang out at home and cook. Spurred on by the gorgeous balmy weather and sunshine, Friday night supper had to be a BBQ.

My mother taught me from an early age that marinading was key to a good BBQ. She would be horrified when invited to an English Summer BBQ and the chicken legs literally went onto the coals directly from their plastic container, as did the lamb chops/burgers etc. No seasoning… just flavour imparted from the briquettes or if we were lucky, charcoal! Marinades are an important part of the Asian cooking process – thinking about some of our favourite classic dishes such as Satay, Char Siew Pork, Tandoori lamb, Chicken Tikka or Korean Beef which all involve a marinating process. Even when doing a stirfry beef/chicken/pork, often the meat is mixed with soy, sugar and cornflour before cooking and left for 10-15 minutes to soak up the flavours.

I like to play with Asian flavours when doing a BBQ – the sugar/salt/spice is generally a good combination. I also use cuts of meat or fish which have a little natural fat – such as chicken thighs, rib eye steak, pork shoulder steaks etc. For this weekend, I didn’t have much time so made a quick chicken tikka marinade and left them for 30 minutes whilst I prepared the accompaniments. It can be left longer, and is also versatile enough to be used on lamb or fish. If you are using this on fish, I would recommend a Salmon joint or thick slices.

Coal or gas…. for ease, I have become a gas convert, although I still believe food is tastier cooked on charcoal. I like slow cooking a pork shoulder, or rib of beef, and feel that charcoal does a better job as you have more control over the heat and can cook by the ‘indirect’ method. The ease of having a gas BBQ which heats up quickly means grilled meat or fish and salad are our perfect Summer meal…with the benefit of less washing up too!

I served these chicken tikka skewers with cucumber mixed with yoghurt and mint, as well as flatbreads and shredded cos lettuce dressed with olive oil, lemon juice and a sprinkling of sumac…. perhaps influenced by my visits to Istanbul where the simplest of salads come alive with the flavours of sumac, lemon and good olive oil.

Chicken Tikka

  • 1kg boneless chicken thighs
  • 6oz greek yoghurt
  • 1Tbs minced fresh ginger
  • ½ tsp ground cumin
  • ½ tsp ground coriander
  • ½ tsp red chilli powder (plus extra if required)
  • ¼ tsp turmeric
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 Tbs Tomato Puree
  • ½ tsp Garam Masala
  • 2 Tbs oil
  • 1/4 tsp Salt

Cut the chicken thighs into half. Mix all the remaining ingredients together in a bowl and then add the chicken. Put to one side and leave to marinate for at least 20 minutes (this can be done overnight).

Thread the chicken onto skewers. I used 4 skewers for this recipe. You can interleave them with onions and peppers if you wish, or you can just use the chicken.

Heat your barbecue to a high cooking temperature and place the skewers on the grill. At high heat they should take 2-3 minutes to cook on each side. Let them char a little as that adds to the smoky flavour.

Once cooked, serve with lemon or lime wedges, salad, flatbreads and mint & cucumber yoghurt. If you want it a little spicier, add some chopped fresh green chillies into the cucumber & yoghurt mix.

**I have photographed a coconut & mint chutney I made, but am not happy with the recipe so need to perfect that before publishing!


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