Garam masala is a northern Indian spice blend made with various combinations of cumin, cinnamon, cloves, coriander, fennel seeds, and nutmeg, among other spices. Look for it in Asian markets and gourmet shops. Serve the chicken with pappadam, crisp lentil wafers, or other Indian-style breads, such as naan.




  • Using a fork, pierce both sides of chicken all over. Slice chicken into strips, about 3 inches long and 1 inch wide. Place strips in a large nonreactive bowl.

  • In a small bowl, whisk together lemon zest and juice, cumin, garam masala, cayenne, and salt. Rub mixture evenly over chicken, and work it into pierced holes. In another bowl, combine yogurt, ginger, and garlic; pour over chicken. Toss well to coat evenly. Cover with plastic wrap; let marinate at room temperature 1 hour, or refrigerate up to 2 days.

  • Heat grill to medium. Remove chicken from marinade, letting excess drip off. Thread each strip on a skewer. Brush chicken generously with clarified butter or oil. Working in batches, place on grill; cook, turning as each side browns, until juices run clear from the center, about 12 minutes depending on heat of grill.

  • Transfer skewers to a platter. Serve hot, with chutney, raita, and bread.

Cook's Notes

Clarified butter, or ghee, is a traditional component of Indian cooking. To make it, heat butter in a skillet until it foams and the milk solids fall to the bottom; skim foam from top, pour clear liquid into a dish, and discard solids. Before using bamboo skewers, soak them at least one hour in hot water to prevent them from scorching on the grill.