Sticky pomegranate and cumin chicken skewers with date and pistachio salsa

The key to boosting the flavour of these chicken skewers is to marinate the meat overnight.
The key to boosting the flavour of these chicken skewers is to marinate the meat overnight. Photo: Katrina Meynink

This chicken loves a wallow in the marinade, the longer the better, or two hours at a pinch. I give the chicken thighs a quick whack with a food mallet before cutting into strips. This ensures ease when skewering and more even cooking.

Ingredients

1kg chicken thighs, flattened slightly with a mallet, each thigh cut lengthways into four strips

bamboo skewers, soaked in water for 10 minutes

Marinade

2 tbsp olive oil

3 tbsp pomegranate molasses

3 garlic cloves, crushed

1 tbsp maple syrup

1½ tsp cumin seeds, toasted then ground

1 tsp lemon zest

2 tbsp dark sweet soy sauce (kecap manis)

Coriander, date and pistachio salsa

½ cup coriander leaves, finely chopped

5 dates, deseeded and very finely sliced

scant ½ cup pistachio kernels, roughly chopped

Method

1. To make the marinade, combine all the marinade ingredients in a large bowl. Add the chicken and toss to coat. Cover and refrigerate for a minimum of two hours, preferably overnight, but two nights is even better.

2. Using one skewer at a time, gently shake a chicken piece from the marinade mixture and pierce with the skewer. Repeat with additional pieces of chicken – you want the skewers to be layered until three-quarters full, ensuring there is still room to grip the base of the stick. Repeat with remaining skewers and chicken pieces.

3. Preheat oven to 155C (175C conventional).

4. Heat a chargrill pan or barbecue to medium-high heat. You want a fairly robust, searing heat so the chicken chars nicely and the smokiness adds to the flavour. Cook the skewers for two minutes, turning regularly, until the chicken is brown, caramelised and darkly charred in some spots.

5. Remove from heat and transfer the skewers to a roasting dish, placed in a single layer. Pop in the oven to cook for an additional five to seven minutes, checking regularly to ensure the skewers aren't burning.

6. Meanwhile, to make the salsa, combine all the salsa ingredients in a small bowl. Remove the skewers from the oven and place on a serving platter. Sprinkle the salsa over the skewers, season with salt and pepper and serve. 

Note: Serve these skewers with Katrina's hummus and some flatbreads.