Chicken Tikka Kebabs

The Kashmiri red chile powder used to season the chicken in these kebabs from chef Chintan Pandya gives them a mild, warm heat. The yogurt marinade ensures that the chicken thighs are juicy and tender when they emerge from the oven, and a quick baste with melted butter makes the dish especially rich. If you can't find ginger-garlic paste in the market, combine equal parts garlic cloves and chopped ginger in a small food processor or blender and blend until smooth, adding a splash of water so the mixture forms a paste.

Chicken Tikka Kebabs
Photo: Photo by Antonis Achilleos / Prop Styling by Christina Daley / Food Styling by Emily Nabors Hall
Active Time:
45 mins
Total Time:
4 hrs 40 mins


Mint Chutney

  • 3 cups roughly chopped fresh mint (about 3 ½ ounces, or 2 large bunches)

  • ½ cup roughly chopped red onion (from 1 small [7-ounce] onion)

  • ¼ cup water, plus more as needed

  • 1 tablespoon coarsely chopped (seeded, if desired) fresh Indian or Thai green chiles (from 4 medium [about 1/2 ounce total] chiles

  • 2 teaspoons coarsely chopped peeled fresh ginger

  • 6 cups roughly chopped fresh cilantro (7 ounces, or 5 medium bunches), divided

  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice (from 1 medium lemon)

  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt

  • 1 teaspoon granulated sugar

Chicken Tikka

  • 5 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs, each cut into 3 or 4 pieces depending on size of thighs 

  • cup fresh lemon juice (from 2 large lemons)

  • ¼ cup ginger-garlic paste (from 1 [7-ounce] jar), divided

  • ¼ cup Kashmiri red chili powder (such as Deggi Mirch), divided

  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided

  • 3 tablespoons mustard oil

  • 1 ½ tablespoons garam masala

  • 2 teaspoons ground turmeric

  • 2 cups plain whole-milk strained yogurt (such as Greek-style yogurt)

  • 6 tablespoons (3 ounces) salted butter, melted

  • 2 tablespoons chaat masala


Prepare the Chutney:

  1. Place mint, onion, 1/4 cup water, chiles, ginger, and half of the cilantro in a blender; pulse, stopping occasionally to scrape down sides and adding additional water 1 tablespoonful at a time (up to 1/3 cup) as needed to loosen mixture, until a smooth paste forms, about 2 minutes. Add remaining cilantro; process until smooth, about 1 minute. Transfer mixture to a medium bowl; stir in lemon juice, salt, and sugar. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.

Prepare the Chicken Tikka:

  1. Place chicken, lemon juice, 1 1/2 tablespoons of the ginger-garlic paste, 1 tablespoon of the red chili powder, and 1 teaspoon of the salt in a large bowl. Cover and let marinate at room temperature for 45 minutes.

  2. Heat oil in a large skillet over low just until lukewarm, about 4 minutes (it should feel warm but not hot when you hold your hand above the oil). Remove from heat; stir in garam masala, turmeric, and remaining 2 1/2 tablespoons ginger-garlic paste, 3 tablespoons chili powder, and 1 teaspoon salt. Add yogurt, and stir until fully combined. Transfer mixture to a large bowl. Remove chicken from marinade in bowl, discarding marinade; add chicken to yogurt mixture, and stir to coat. Cover and refrigerate for at least 3 hours or up to 8 hours.

  3. Preheat oven to 375°F. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Thread chicken evenly onto 20 (8-inch) skewers (4 to 5 pieces per skewer), and arrange on baking sheet. Roast in preheated oven until skewers start to turn brown and opaque and yogurt starts to form a crust, about 6 minutes. Remove baking sheet from oven, and baste chicken with melted butter. Return to oven, and roast until a thermometer inserted into thickest portion of chicken registers 165°F, about 8 minutes. Sprinkle skewers with chaat masala, and serve with Mint Chutney.

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