There’s this new cafe in Chennai that I only recently discovered that has filled a large void in my heart. About 7 years ago (wow, that’s a LONG time), there used to be this bookstore-cafe in the heart of the city called Cha Bar that I used to absolutely adore. It was an Oxford bookstore that had a little cafe on a raised floor inside it that primarily served tea. Two years after it became my favourite hangout (because it was a little cafe surrounded by books and quiet), it closed down to give way to a bank. Needless to say, I was crushed. A little later, a few other cafes popped up, that sort of came close in vibe to what Cha Bar had, but never really nailed the ambience.
And then in late 2016 came Writer’s Cafe run by Higginbotham’s, part of India’s oldest bookstore chain, whose first bookstore opened up right here in Chennai in 1844. While Writer’s Cafe is more a cafe with books around it for its patrons to skim through than a bookstore with a niche cafe for books to be perused, you can’t deny that this is one place that has been crafted with love. In my three visits there, I’ve gone through all of their non-vegetarian appetisers and their Chicken Skewers is undoubtedly my favourite one on their menu. This recipe is inspired by my reciprocated love for the cafe and the dish itself.
And if you’re ever visiting Chennai, do give this Cafe a try, because apart from the books and the easy-on-the-wallet food, the cafe also employs burn victim survivors who make all the food on display. You end up getting a slice of history, philanthropy and the comfort of good food all in one bite.
PS – This isn’t a sponsored post. I just really love this cafe. 🙂
Ingredients (serves 2)
2 chicken breasts
2 tbsp peanut butter
1 tbsp oil
1/2 tsp chilly powder
2 garlic cloves
1 tsp sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 lime’s juice
spring onions (for garnish)
- Slice the chicken breasts in bite sized pieces at an angle.
- Crush and roughly chop the garlic cloves.
- In a bowl, mix the peanut butter, oil, chilly powder, garlic, sugar and salt until it forms a smooth paste.
- Add the chicken breasts into the bowl and mix until the marinade paste coats all the pieces well. Let the chicken marinate for half an hour (minimum).
- Preheat your oven to 180 degrees celsius.
- Skewer the chicken pieces onto the sticks like you would stitch fabric and once your oven is preheated, grill the chicken skewers on the grilling rack and bake it on the topmost level of your oven for 15 minutes.
- Garnish with a squeeze of lime and spring onions and serve hot!
When your chicken cooks, it’s going to drip a lot of its delicious flavour through the grilling rack. To keep your oven clean and to make full use of all that dripping flavour, slice some carrots thinly and place them on a drip tray at the middle level right under the grilling rack.
For a delicious dipping sauce, mix equal parts honey, peanut or sesame oil and soy sauce, with chilly powder (to taste) and garlic powder (to taste) and a dash of lime juice from the remaining half of the lime.
For a vegetarian option, use thinly sliced cottage cheese instead of chicken and grill for 5 – 10 minutes instead.
This is great dish to serve as appetisers at parties since they can be marinated ahead of time and cooked in a jiffy.