Nepali Grilled Chicken
Nepali chefs are famous in the Subcontinent, just like Filipino rock musicians in Asia. Nepali chefs have been cooking restaurant food, and particularly “foreigner food,” for two, almost three generations. If you go to Goa, the big beach resort destination in high tourist season, there will be Nepali chefs in the kitchens. And it’s the same thing in the mountain town of Manali, in Himachal Pradesh, in high tourist season, and in Delhi. Kathmandu has long had a restaurant tradition. Many Nepali chefs have grown up working in those restaurants, and then they take their skills elsewhere during slow times in Kathmandu.
This grilled chicken, marinated in a tomato-based blend of flavorings, may be Nepali (we’ve eaten a version of it in Kathmandu) or it may be a Nepali chef—inspired invention, but either way it’s good. Use a cleaver to cut the chicken into pieces as you wish for grilling (we usually cut legs into two, and breasts into four, for example), or ask the butcher to do it.
Serve as the centerpiece of a family meal or a dinner party, with rice or flatbreads and a chutney.
Cooking Methodbroiling, grilling
OccasionCasual Dinner Party
Recipe Coursemain course
Dietary Considerationmain course
Taste and Texturegarlicky, savory, spiced
- One 3½- to 4-pound chicken, cut into 12 to 16 pieces, or 3 to 3½ pounds chicken legs and breasts, cut into smaller serving pieces
- 1 cup chopped ripe tomatoes or canned tomatoes
- 1½ teaspoons ground cumin
- 1½ teaspoons ground coriander
- 1 tablespoon minced ginger
- 3 tablespoons chopped garlic
- 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
- 2 teaspoons salt
- ¼ cup vegetable oil
Wash the chicken well in cold water and set aside.
Place all the marinade ingredients except the oil in a blender or food processor and process to a paste. Transfer to a large bowl and stir in the oil. Place the chicken pieces in the bowl and rub to coat them with marinade. Cover and refrigerate for 4 to 8 hours.
Prepare a charcoal or gas grill or preheat the broiler.
To grill the chicken, place it on a rack about 5 inches from the coals or flame and grill, turning several times (tongs work well), until cooked through, about 20 minutes.
To broil the chicken, place it on a lightly oiled rack in a broiler pan and put the pan in the oven so the meat is about 5 inches below the broiler element. Prop the door open slightly and broil for about 20 minutes, turning the chicken once after about 7 minutes, and then again after about 15 minutes.
Test for doneness with a skewer: The juices should run clear.
Transfer the chicken to a platter and serve hot.
2005 Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid