When meat is cooked at high temperatures like when grilling on an open flame, the creatine, amino acids and sugars in the meat form chemical compounds called heterocyclic amines (HCAs) that cause mutations in our DNA and ultimately, at high enough doses, cancer (why does everything that's fun and delicious have a downside?! Boo). Fascinatingly, anti-oxidant rich marinades containing spices like turmeric and certain herbs (basil, oregano, thyme, mint) can substantially reduce HCA formation! This marinade combines several anti-oxidant spices for a flavour and anti-carcinogenic boost. Like I've said on many occasions, if only our conventional meds tasted this good!
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Yields: Serves a family of 4
1 small red onion, thinly sliced
Small fistful freshly chopped coriander
2 limes, juiced
2 lb chicken breasts or thighs cut into cubes, or 6 chicken drumsticks
1/2 cup plain, full-fat Greek yoghurt
2 tablespoons tomato paste
5 cloves garlic crushed
1 teaspoon grated ginger
1 teaspoon plus a large pinch salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1/4 - 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper (skip for kids)
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon garam masala
Melted butter or coconut oil for brushing
Mix the onions, lime juice, coriander and a large pinch of salt in a small bowl and set aside.
If using drumsticks, use a knife to create slits in the meat. If using breast or thigh cubes, poke holes in the meat with a fork.
In a large bowl, mix together the yogurt, tomato paste, garlic, ginger salt, pepper, and spices. Add the chicken and coat well with the marinade ensuring it gets into the meat for optimal flavor. Refrigerate for 1-6 hours.
30 minutes before cooking, remove the chicken from the fridge.
If using the oven (instead of the BBQ), pre-heat it to 200 C / 400 F.
If BBQing, cook the chicken on a pre-heated grill until done, about 30 minutes, flipping every 5 minutes to ensure even cooking (and to reduce HCA formation, discussed above). Brush with melted butter or oil to prevent it from drying.
Alternatively, roast the chicken in the pre-heated oven for 35 minutes turning every 10 minutes to ensure even cooking. Broil on high for 5 minutes, brushing with melted butter or oil to get a crisper finish.
Squeeze with lime juice and serve hot alongside the marinated onions.