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Grilled Tamarind Chicken Tacos


Yields 15 tacos

  • Make the menu:
    Taco Night
  • by from Fine Cooking
    Issue 112

In these tacos, chicken thighs are marinated in sweet-sour tamarind soda, garlic, and soy sauce, and then rubbed with a coriander-chile spice rub. The tacos are great garnished with chopped red onion, avocado slices, and a squeeze of fresh lime juice.

  • 8 boneless, skinless chicken thighs (about 2 lb.)
  • 1 12.5-oz. bottle tamarind soda (such as Jarritos brand)
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 3 medium cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 Tbs. ground coriander
  • 2 tsp. pure chile powder, such as ancho
  • Sea salt
If you can’t find tamarind soda, use lemon, orange, or ginger soda, preferably made with real cane sugar.

Put the chicken in a large bowl and cover with the tamarind soda. Add the soy sauce and garlic and mix well. Refrigerate overnight.

Prepare a high charcoal or gas grill fire for indirect grilling.

Remove the chicken from the marinade and pat it dry. In a small bowl, combine the coriander, chile powder, and a pinch of salt. Dust the thighs on both sides with the spice rub. Cook on the hot part of the grill until grill marks form on the bottom, 3 to 5 minutes. Turn and mark the other side, about 2 minutes more. Move the chicken to the cooler side of the grill and grill until cooked through, 7 to 10 minutes. Let the chicken rest on a cutting board for 5 minutes and then cut the meat into strips and serve.

Make Ahead Tips

You can marinate and refrigerate the chicken the night before. You can also grill the chicken up to 30 minutes before you plan to serve it.

nutrition information (per serving):
Size : 1 taco (not including garnishes), Calories (kcal): 150, Fat (kcal): 4, Fat Calories (g): 40, Saturated Fat (g): 1, Protein (g): 9, Monounsaturated Fat (g): 1, Carbohydrates (mg): 21, Polyunsaturated Fat (mg): 1, Sodium (g): 140, Cholesterol (g): 25, Fiber (g): 2,

Photo: Scott Phillips

Loved it. So easy I can’t even believe how flavorful and juicy they were. They marinated for 24 hours and I used breasts as well as thighs. Easy and delightful. I am fortunate that I live in an area where I can get the tamarind soda. That sweet with the sour were perfect. These are not spicy but then guests can add the heat with peppers after. I roasted some different chiles that my guest could add to their tacos. Someone did mention the lack of salt and I would agree but I like using a finishing salt anyways.

Love this chicken taco recipe- A go to for dinner guests. Keys are using the actual Tamarind soda (don't sub it) and marinating overnight. So juicy and flavorful.

This is absolutely the best chicken taco recipe I have ever made and very easy to make too! My husband could not stop eating the chicken and both my daughters exclaimed they are never leaving home!

I made this with boneless/skinless chicken breast and it tasted amazing. My husband says these are his new favorite tacos.

This chicken recipe was excellent-- the soy sauce and tamarind soda seasoned the meat to perfection and the garlic and ancho-coriander spice rub made the chicken flavorful and delicious. I made this for a tacos-and-beer party and my guests were raving about it-- even preferring it to the other meat we cooked, a perfectly grilled medium-rare tri-tip. Although a few reviewers found this undersalted, the salt level was perfect for me-- and I like salt-- so don't add more salt until you try it, as tastes (or brands of soy sauce) vary a lot. For the record, I used Kikkoman (980mg sodium/1 Tbsp). 1/2c of that in the marinade is a lot of salt. As an aside, one of my guests is on a low-salt diet, so I marinated a few thighs in just garlic and tamarind soda-- he said it was very tasty, with a great smoky, garlicky, spicy taste.

I was apprehensive based on previous reviews but this chicken was fantastic!! I think the tamarind soda makes it distinctive and we followed the bbq timings exactly as well. A big hit!! (and I was hoping for leftovers but no such luck!).

I have to agree with the previous reviewer. I followed the recipe exactly and found the chicken to be quite bland, despite the marinade and spice rub. I suspect more salt in the rub would help, but I was afraid to go overboard with the salt because of the soy sauce marinade. If I try this again I will definitely be more liberal with the seasonings.

granted, I used breast meat instead of thigh and think the thighs were the superior choice for this, BUT I just did not feel that the marinade imparted enough flavor to the meat. It was a good meal, we enjoyed it, but I'll look for another meat filling next time.

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