Tamarind Turkey Kebabs
80 Min

Tamarind Turkey Kebabs

The holiday season has arrived amidst cooler weather with trees and leaves turning a beautiful auburn color. If you have not planned your Thanksgiving menu, this is a good time to explore new ideas. Turkey may be the centerpiece of most Thanksgiving dinner tables but it’s one meat that could use a lot of help with flavor from spices and herbs. Rub the whole turkey with a cardamom, black pepper and cinnamon spice rub or spice up the stuffing. Or, switch out the whole roasted bird for tamarind glazed grilled turkey kebabs. 

Tamarind may have originated in Africa but it’s very popular in the cuisines of Asia from India to Malaysia. You can make the turkey kebabs ahead of time and finish in the oven when ready to eat. Here is a tamarind glaze that will not only be delicious on grilled vegetables like butternut squash or zucchini but also on meats like chicken or lamb. The glaze will keep in the refrigerator for up to a month. The brine helps keep the meat plump, juicy and filled with flavor. Give it a try this year and I promise you, there won’t be much leftover. 

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Cook Time

80 Minutes + refrigeration & marination time



Step 1
In a large storage container, combine the 4 cups of water with sugar, lemon juice, cinnamon, cardamom, peppercorns, and salt. Drop the turkey breasts in the liquid and refrigerate for 2 to 3 days. Remove the turkey breasts and drain.
Step 2
To make the tamarind glaze, in a small stockpot over high heat, combine the tamarind, sugar, ginger, red chile, cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, salt with 2 cups of water. Bring to a boil, simmer, and cook for 20 to 25 minutes until the tamarind has dissolved completely and the liquid has thickened a bit. Set aside for 20 minutes then strain the whole mixture. Store in the refrigerator until ready to use.
Step 3
Cut the turkey into 1-inch chunks and along with the onion, marinate with olive oil, garlic, black pepper, garam masala and sea salt. Set aside for 4 to 6 hours up to 2 days.
Step 4
Skewer the turkey and onion pieces onto approximately 8-10” wooden or metal skewers – you should end up with 6 to 8 kebabs. Cook over a hot grill on both sides for 2 to 3 minutes. If you do not have a grill, put them on a baking sheet and broil for 2 minutes on each side.
Step 5
Next, generously brush the glaze over the turkey pieces and cook for another 2 to 3 minutes on each side. Let the meat rest for at least 5 minutes before serving.
Step 6
To make the persimmon slaw, combine the sliced persimmons with onion, mint, salt, and lemon juice. Serve alongside the turkey kebabs.

Turkey Brine:

2 pounds boneless skinless turkey breast

1/2 cup sugar

Juice from 2 lemons

1 small stick of cinnamon

3 to 4 whole green cardamom pods

2 teaspoons black peppercorns

2 tablespoons salt

Tamarind Glaze:

100 grams | 3.5 oz dried whole tamarind (with seeds)

200 grams | 1 cup jaggery or sugar

1 tablespoon dried ginger

1 teaspoon red chile powder

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground cardamom

1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

1 tablespoon salt


1/2 medium red onion, cut into large square chunks

4 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon minced garlic

2 tablespoons freshly ground black pepper

2 teaspoons garam masala

1 teaspoon sea salt

Persimmon Slaw:

2 ripe persimmons, sliced

1/2 small onion, thinly sliced

1 cup loose mint leaves

Pinch salt

Juice from 1 lemon

Notes & Variations

  • Dried whole tamarind blocks can be found in most Asian stores in 8-to-12-ounce packages. If using tamarind concentrate, use 4 to 5 tablespoons instead of the dried whole tamarind.
  • The glaze also makes a good dipping sauce for roast meats or raw vegetables.
  • If using wooden skewers, make sure to soak them in water for 10 to 15 minutes before using. This way, they will not burn on the grill.
80 Min

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