Boneless, skinless chicken breasts are a go-to for many home chefs because they are so versatile. BUT, they can also be extremely bland and dried-out if not cooked and seasoned properly. In Garlic-Ginger Chicken with Cilantro and Mint, both the marinade and the cooking method have a huge payoff resulting in charred, slightly spicy, really juicy chicken that is equally wonderful by itself. Add a pan sauce and now you’re in “amazing” territory.
It’s not often that we run into a spice that we don’t have on hand, let alone never heard of! But amchur, used in this marinade, wasn’t even a twinkle on our horizon. Unfortunately, we did not have any on hand when we decided to try this recipe so I researched a substitution, which by the way is 2-3 tablespoons of lemon or lime juice. Because there was already lemon juice in the marinade, we forwent any replacement.
For a bit of background, “aam” is a hindi word for mango and amchoor is nothing but powder or extract of the fruit. It is also referred to as ‘mango’ powder and is a spice made from green, unripe mangos, which are sliced, sun-dried and ground into a fine powder. Amchur has a pleasant sweet-sour aroma of dried fruit, astringent, but also sweet fruity flavor. The spice adds sour taste like tamarind.
For sides, we paired the chicken with sautéed broccolini and rice topped with a prepackaged lentil dish. A friend of my husband raved about these Tasty Bite brand Indian madras lentil packages from Costco and gave a few to him. I have to admit, I was smitten. Oh, and we decided to make a pan sauce from the remaining liquid. It was sooo worth it!
Garlic-Ginger Chicken with Cilantro and Mint
- 8 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 3 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice (from about 1 lemon)
- 2 Tbsp. finely chopped fresh ginger
- 3 Tbsp. plus 1 tsp. extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 Tbsp. finely chopped cilantro leaves, plus more for garnish
- 1 Tbsp. finely chopped mint leaves, plus more for garnish
- 1 Tbsp. ground coriander (freshly ground is best)
- 1 tsp. amchur (dry mango powder), optional
- 1 tsp. ground turmeric
- ¾ tsp. kosher salt
- ½ tsp. red chili powder
- 4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts (½–¾ lb. each)
- 3 Tbsp. unsalted butter
- Mix garlic, lemon juice, ginger, 3 Tbsp. oil, 1 Tbsp. cilantro, and 1 Tbsp. mint in a medium bowl to form a paste.
- Mix coriander, amchur (if using), turmeric, salt, and chili powder in a small bowl. Add spice mixture to garlic-ginger paste and stir well to combine. Transfer marinade to a large resealable bag.
- Place chicken breasts in marinade and seal bag tightly. Using your hands, gently massage marinade onto chicken, making sure to evenly coat each breast. Chill 2 hours, or overnight. (Ours marinated for 23 hours.)
- Heat a large skillet over medium-high. Once pan is quite hot, add remaining 1 tsp. oil, swirling pan to coat the entire surface. Reduce heat to medium. Remove chicken from marinade and cook, undisturbed, until lightly golden on one side, 1–2 minutes. Flip chicken and continue to cook until golden brown on the other side, 1–2 more minutes.
- Reduce heat to low, cover, and cook 10 minutes. DO NOT lift the cover! (Since our breast pieces were large, we cooked for 12 minutes.)
- Remove pan from heat and let chicken sit, covered, 10–15 minutes, depending on thickness of the breasts. Don’t uncover, or you’ll release the hot steam that cooks the chicken.
- Check to make sure the breasts are cooked through—there shouldn’t be any pink in the middle, and if you have an instant-read thermometer, the chicken should register 165°.
- Transfer chicken to a bowl and cover while making the pan sauce.
- Turn heat to medium-high and reduce the liquid in the pan for several minutes to thicken.
- Reduce heat to medium, add the butter until fully melted stirring constantly. Pour liquid through a strainer into a bowl, discard solids. Add any accumulated juices from chicken into sauce.
- Transfer chicken pieces to a platter, pour pan sauce over breasts and garnish with cilantro and mint. Serve immediately with sides of choice.
Adapted from a recipe by Priya Krishna