Sunday, November 4, 2012

Chicken Kabobs (Mishkaki ya kuku).

Ask any Kenyan,anytime what their favorite pass time is on a nice lazy day weather with family and friends or as a solo activity, and they will tell you its spending time with family and friends over some "choma" and a cold beer. Now "choma" is how we in Kenya fondly refer to barbecue. Loosely translated, "choma" means to barbecue or burn over an open flame. And we LOVE our barbecue! In fact, we seek out any opportunity to enjoy some barbecue. Be it the birth of a new baby, celebrating a promotion at work,celebrating Christmas or heck, even ridding your finger of that hang-nail that has been bugging you for days! It doesn't matter what the occasion is. Whenever there is a celebration in Kenya, you can count on there being some "choma". Be it beef, chicken, goat or lamb, it will make a guest appearance. In this post, I will show you how to make some chicken "choma" in the form of kabobs (or mishkaki as it is called in Swahili).
This style of chicken kabobs is popular in Kenya and Tanzania,where it is known by it's Swahili name,"Mishkaki ya kuku", which loosely translates to skewered chicken. These are tender, juicy,delicious and aromatic! They can be eaten as an appetizer or served on a bed of any rice dish as a meal. These are always a hit at my home whenever we have friends over for a barbecue. So feel free to impress your company at your next barbecue or tailgating party with these kebabs.This is a make-ahead dish, but the finished product will make it look like you slaved in the kitchen for hours ;)
Now,now, ladies...don't shy away from dishes that involve grilling. Grilling is not just for the guys.There is something to be said about a lady that can grill. In fact, you earn cool points with the guys if you can grill, and do it well. If the open flames stand to ruin your perfect manicure, have no worries,grill-pan to the rescue! So throw your apron on and let's do this!
This recipe feeds 4. It can be doubled depending on the size of the group you are feeding.

-Grill or grill pan (like the one shown above).
-Bamboo or metal skewers. If using bamboo skewers, completely submerge in water and soak for at least 3 hours (This will ensure that whatever part of the skewer is exposed to the heat does not burn).
-Grill brush or pastry brush to brush oil onto the kebabs as they cook.
***You will need to marinate your chicken before skewering and cooking it. The marination needs to take place for a minimum of three hours for the chicken to tenderize and take in the flavors of the spices. For best results,marinate overnight.***
-1 1/2 Lbs boneless, skinless chicken breast (cut into bite-size cubes).
-3 tablespoons plain, full-fat yogurt (I use Dannon).
-1 teaspoon ginger paste.
-1 teaspoon garlic paste.
-1 teaspoon red chili that has been pureed in a blender. I used 1/2 of a habanero pepper, that I seeded and mashed into a paste to cut down on the heat. (Note: If you leave the seeds in the pepper, the food will be very hot. So only leave it in if you like your food very hot).
-1 teaspoon corriander powder.
-1 teaspoon cumin powder.
-1 teaspoon ground cinnamon.
-1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper (if you like your food hot,you can use 1 teaspoon).
-1/2 teaspoon of salt ( I use Kosher salt).
-2 tablespoons of fresh lemon juice.
-2 tablespoons of pure vegetable oil (I use Canola).
-1 cubed red bell pepper.
-1 cubed green bell pepper.
-1 onion, cubed.
-Marinate the chicken cubes in the spices,salt,lemon juice,oil and yogurt and place in a covered container in the refrigerator for a minimum of 3 hrs. For best results,let the chicken marinate overnight.
-Begin assembling your kebabs by alternating between the cubed chicken, red pepper, green pepper and onion. repeat this process till you almost get to the tip of the skewer. Make sure you leave 1 inch space at the tip of your skewer so that the chicken does not fall off, and 1 1/2 inch space at the base of the skewer as you will need that space to handle the kebabs as you cook.
-If you're using a grill pan,place the pan over the front and back burners/eyes of your stove and heat it on medium heat as you begin to assemble your last two kebabs. This will ensure that your pan is hot enough to cook on, but is not too hot or your kebabs will burn.
-Place the kebabs on the grill pan, 2 inches apart to ensure that they have room to properly cook.Once the grill-marks appear on the part of the kebab that's touching the grill, turn it over and cook until all the sides of the chicken and peppers/onions are cooked. (It should take 15-20 mins for each kebab to cook). If it appears that your kebab is sticking to the grill pan, use your grill/pastry brush to lightly apply some cooking oil (very little).
When properly cooked,the kebabs should be done when cut into (no pink showing), juicy, tender and aromatic. It's like a celebration in your mouth :) Enjoy!!!