Coffee-smoked Tandoori Chicken — Whip It UP!


By Chef Sakthivel Karuppiah, Allspice Institute

Singapore is gearing up to celebrate its 53rd birthday next week, on 9 August. If you’re going to make an outing of it, how about packing a picnic basket? Pita bread sandwiched with coffee-smoked tandoori chicken – the alluring coffee aroma will perk up the appetities of your party.

Happy National Day Singapore!

Total Time: 5½ hours including marination
Cost: $15
Difficulty: 2/5
Servings: 6-8 skewers for 3 persons


A: Chicken Steeped In Coffee

320g chicken meat, skinned, cut into thick slices as per satay
2 double shots* (120 ml), Cafédirect Lively Roast Coffee


B: Marinade for Chicken

100ml thick yoghurt
1 teaspoon ground allspice
1 teaspoon ground smoked paprika
½ teaspoon Himalayan salt
¼ teaspoon ground white pepper

Pinch of yuzu salt or lemon wedge, for serving


C: Avocado Salsa Raitha

½ cup thick yoghurt
1 tablespoon lime juice
¼ teaspoon ground cumin
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 ripe avocado, approx. 140g, peeled and diced
¼ ripe small pineapple, peeled and diced
1 medium red onion, peeled and diced
1 green chilli, seeded and sliced (optional)
½ teaspoon ginger torch bud, minced
Fresh coriander – 2 tablespoons minced
Fresh mint leaves – 2 tablespoons, minced


D: To Smoke

2 tablespoon used or fresh coffee grounds
2 cardamom pods (optional)

How to smoke meat
How to smoke chicken in a saucepan.


E: Pita Bread

3 pieces, toasted through


F: To Garnish

Iceberg lettuce, leaves washed and dried



  1. Avocado Salsa Raitha: In a small mixing bowl, whisk yoghurt, lemon juice, cumin powder and salt together with a fork until well blended. Add remaining ingredients. Gently fold in yoghurt and mix well. Chill until ready to serve.
Raitha provides a refreshing contrast to tandoori chicken.
  1.  In another mixing bowl, place chicken in coffee solution to steep. Cover and chill overnight or at least 1 hour – this allows the coffee aroma to be absorbed by the meat. If a stronger coffee aroma is preferred, marinate the chicken overnight.
  1. In another bowl, combine marinade ingredients. Using a whisk, mix well to form a smooth paste.


Marinating chicken with spices infuses the meat with flavours.


  1. Remove chicken from fridge. Using kitchen towels, pat dry chicken. Then rub marinade vigorously into chicken – this helps the marinade to permeate the meat to flavour it.
  1. Return chicken to the refrigerator to chill for another 3-4 hours.
  1. Poke chicken onto bamboo skewers. This recipe makes 7-8 skewers.
    How to skewer chicken
    Skewering the chicken pieces makes it easier to panfry or grill.


  2. To cook, drizzle 1-2 tablespoons of oil into a saucepan or hotplate. Tilt it so that oil evenly coats the base of the pan. Panfry till meat turns brown. Alternatively, grill chicken skewers in the oven at 190C for 15 minutes.
Grilling chicken on a hotplate.

8. In a wok or large saucepan, pour in used or fresh coffee grounds, crushed cardamom pods. Place a rack inside the pan. Cover with lid, let it heat up for 2 minutes over medium fire until it becomes smoky.

9. Place cooked chicken onto rack in the pan. Sprinkle some water over the chicken. Put the lid back on. Turn off the heat. Leave it for 2 minutes. This adds an umami (body) layer of flavour to the meat. While chicken is warm, sprinkle with yuzu salt or serve with lime wedge for a citrusy zing.

10. Serving suggestion: Using a sharp knife, make a slit in each pita bread – fill pocket with lettuce, raitha and coffee smoked chicken. Wrap individually with greaseproof paper. Pop them it into a picnic basket, along with chilled beverages and serviettes.


TIP: Raitha – Add chopped nuts and dried fruit for extra fibre and crunch.

NOTE: Coffee is usually measured in shots, each shot of liquid measures approximately 30ml and contains 42mg of caffeine. Two double-shots or 120ml is sufficiently strong to flavour the chicken.

Coffee marinade
Liven up your chicken with the aroma of coffee.

Award-winning Cafédirect is a leading social enterprise and fair trade beverage company whose operations positively impact 1.8 million people across 12 developing countries.

This recipe was developed for Cafédirect by Chef Sakthi, Allspice Institute’s COO and Executive Head Chef.

Chef Sakthi’s dishes are born of passion and respect for the natural and wholesome. He was commissioned by the Singapore Heart Foundation to develop “heart healthy” recipes for its Trim to Train programme from 2012 to 2014.  He is also the author of a cookbook, Cook Right Eat Right.

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