I can eat roast chicken pretty much everyday. I love the crisped skin and how easy you can mix up an entire meal with a variety of herbs, spices, and sides: salt and pepper, lemon and rosemary, cumin and coriander. Then toss in your accompaniments of apples and onions, potatoes, tomatoes and olives, sweet potatoes and garlic. There is no end to the variations for roast chicken. I decided to try something different this time, and go towards more Southeast Asian flavors.
I bought a big block of tamarind some time ago and it just stares at me beckoning me to use it. I finally pulled it out of the pantry and on a whim made this tamarind marinade and drenched the chicken it. It turned out so good, I made it a few times and shared with friends. It’s paleo-friendly, dairy and gluten-free. Serve it with rice and a salad and you’ve got a fine meal indeed.
Tamarind Rubbed Chicken Thighs
8 ounces tamarind pulp
1 1/4 cup boiling water
1/2 teaspoon grated ginger
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon chili powder (or more to taste)
1/2 teaspoon each of fennel seeds, coriander seeds, cumin seeds, toasted
1 Tablespoon + 2 teaspoons honey
4 fresh medjool dates
2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
10 chicken thighs or 6-7 whole legs
3 skinny sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
1 large onion, cubed
1 clove garlic, separated (skin on)
salt and pepper
Combine the tamarind and 1 cup of the boiling water in a bowl and stir. Break up the tamarind until you can strain it. Set a mesh sieve over a bowl and push the tamarind and water mixture through. Only the seeds and rough pieces will remain. If it needs more liquid to push more tamarind through, pour the remaining 1/4 cup of water over the pulp. Discard what is left in the sieve.
To the tamarind liquid, add the ginger, garlic, chili powder and spices, honey, dates, and vinegar. I like a little chunky texture, so I used a hand-held blender and pulsed a few times. If you prefer, put it all in a blender and puree.
In a large bowl, toss the chicken pieces, 2 teaspoons of salt, and half of the marinade together. Cover and let sit for about 2 hours up to overnight.
Preheat the oven to 400. Prepare all of the vegetables. Place the chicken pieces skin side up in a large roasting pan, big enough to hold the pieces without overlap. Toss the vegetables around the chicken.
Roast in the oven for 30 minutes. Pull the pan out and baste the thighs. Brush more of the marinade onto the chicken. Return to the oven and roast for about another 30 minutes, basting once more half way through. The chicken is done when the skin is crisp and the vegetables are completely tender. If you want it a bit crisper, turn the oven to broil and broil the chicken for just 2 minutes at a time (up to 6 minutes).
Serve the chicken with the remaining chutney marinade on the side as a dipping sauce if folks want more. Or for a little variety, save the leftover marinade and serve with goat cheese and crackers as an appetizer.