Lodged between India and China, Nepali food leans more towards the Indian influence. Though I have never visited this mountainous country before, cooking is the next best way to travel, so I was excited to try this simple dish. Sekuwa is apparently the Nepali term for any meat dish that is cooked under or over a heat source, such as a broiler or grill. With the warm weather coming up, I thought this recipe would be ideal for the grill (although I made it here in the broiler). The garnishes really make for a great presentation, so consider this dish when you are entertaining this summer.
2 1/2 to 3 lbs. skinless, boneless chicken breasts or thighs, cut into 1 1/2 –inch pieces
1 tbsp. plus 2 1/2 tsp. fresh lemon or lime juice
1 1/8 tsp. salt
2 medium red onions, 1 chopped and 1 sliced into rings
12 fresh mild green chilies
1 tbsp. peeled and roughly chopped fresh ginger
3 large garlic cloves, peeled
1 cup plain yogurt, stirred
2 tbsp. vegetable oil
1 tsp. ground paprika
1 tsp. Nepali Garam Masala (purchase at Indian store or see below)
1/2 tsp. ground cumin
1/2 tsp. ground turmeric
2 medium tomatoes, cut into wedges
1 lemon or lime, cut into wedges
2 to 3 sprigs cilantro
8 to 10 wooden skewers (soaked in water for 30 minutes)
1.) Place chicken in large bowl with 1 1/2 tbsp. lemon juice and 1 tsp. of salt. Mix thoroughly and set aside for 10 minutes.
2.) Put chopped onion, 2 greens chilies, ginger and garlic in blender or food processor and process until they are minced. Transfer mixture to a small bowl, and stir in yogurt, oil, paprika, garam masala, cumin and turmeric.
3.) Pour mixture over chicken making sure each piece is well-coated. Cover the bowl and marinate in fridge for at least 2 hours.
4.) Meanwhile, marinate sliced onions in remaining lemon juice and salt.
5.) Preheat a charcoal or gas grill to medium heat. Thread marinated chicken onto skewers, place them over the rack and grill, turning frequently, until lightly browned on all sides and cooked through, 20 to 25 minutes.
6.) Remove from grill and allow chicken to cool a little before removing it from the skewers.
7.) Arrange chicken on serving dish with marinated onion, lemon and tomato wedges, green chilies, and cilantro sprigs and serve.
Makes 4 to 6 servings
(Adapted from Taste of Nepal by Jyoti Pathak)
Nepali Garam Masala
1/2 cup cumin seeds
1/2 cup coriander seeds
1 tbsp. whole black peppercorns
3-4 small bay leaves
3 (1-inch) stick cinnamon (broken into several pieces)
8 green cardamom pods, crushed
2 black cardamom pods, crushed
1 tbsp. whole cloves
1 small whole nutmeg broken into several pieces
Heat a pan over medium low heat. When hot, add all the spices and toast them, stirring constantly or swirling the pan, until they give off a pleasant aroma and darken, 3 to 4 minutes. Allow to cool, remove seeds from cardamom pods, and grind in small batches in a dedicated spice grinder. Sieve and grind again to get rid of bigger pieces. Store in a glass jar in the fridge.