Life. Love. Food

Ukwaju (Tamarind) Marinated Spicy Chicken Thighs

” Lazima tumake hii tena on Saturday!!!” (We must make this again this Saturday!!!) My youngest sister said after she saw the  sneak peak I shared of this recipe on my Instagram Story on Monday. You guys were equally as excited and looked forward to having this recipe on the blog. I revealed that I had added a little twist to my usual chicken marinade ingredients that my mom taught me and the results were explosively delicious. Since I had some Ukwaju (tamarind) sitting pretty in the fridge, I decided to incorporate it into the marinade; and that has been one of the best cooking decisions I have made in a long time! Supper this past Monday was spectacular!!! And for the sake of my youngest sister, I shall make this once again this coming weekend and have her enjoy the same deliciousness! You should too ;))

For my first recipe this glorious month, I bring you my ukwaju marinated spicy chicken thighs.



4 chicken thighs

5 cloves of garlic

1 tablespoon of fresh rosemary

5 tablespoons of balsamic (or apple cider) vinegar

1 teaspoon of paprika

1/2 a teaspoon of turmeric

1 teaspoon of black pepper

1/4 teaspoon of chilli flakes

1/4 cup of ukwaju (tamarind) paste

Shalimar chicken tikka spice blend

Salt to taste

Vegetable oil for frying



Remove your ukwaju from the pod if you purchase them unpeeled. Mine came already peeled.

In Nairobi, you can get Ukwaju from Zucchini, Food Plus, Ngara food market and the vegetable vendors at City Market. Place them in a pan with some water and let this simmer on low heat. After about 10 minutes, turn down the heat and let the ukwaju soak for another 10 minutes. They will swell up and make it easier to separate the pulp from the seeds. I learnt this from Pendo La Mama (check out this post where she makes tamarind paste too <3). You can do the extraction overnight too, but if you are in a rush, this method works.

Remove the pulp and then discard the fibers and the seeds.

Place your chicken in a bowl. Add the vinegar, rosemary, garlic and ukwaju. Mix it lightly then add all the spiced and mix well until completely combined. I usually use apple cider vinegar for my chicken marination, however lately I have been enjoying the flavor that balsamic vinegar has to offer. You can alternate between both vinegars and settle on the one you feel works best. Both kinds are sold in our local supermarkets at about 200 bob a bottle.

Once ingredients are fully combined, cover with a lid and let this marinate refrigerated for 8 hours or up to 3 days. Remember, the longer it marinated, the more intense the flavors shall be.

After the marination is done, some fluid will have collected in the bowl. Pour all this into a sufuria and boil your chicken. I boil my chicken with all the marinade contents before seasoning because I feel it intensifies the flavor. You have to boil it until all the liquid dries up; that will intensify the flavor by concentrating it as opposed to having it watery and less concentrated. If you prefer not to boil before seasoning, you can skip this step.

Once  done, dip it in  a paste of shalimar + black pepper; the same thing we did here. I bought my shalimar from Nakumatt at 100 bob a pack. Make sure to ALWAYS season your chicken before frying!!!

Once coated in your seasoning paste, we are ready to fry. This thighs look so delicious even before we are done cooking!!

Shallow fry the chicken until completely done and crispy. You will only need to flash fry so make sure your oil is hot enough so that your skin becomes crispy. Using cold oil will make the chicken soggy as it will soak up too much of it.

Remove from heat and serve. My ukwaju marinated spicy chicken thighs are the best thing you will ever sink your teeth into without doubt!

The spicy tikka-peppery seasoning beautifully compliments the tender marinated chicken flesh; which has the warm flavors of the garlic, herby taste of the rosemary and the bold flavor of our ukwaju. Layer after layer of absolute taste bud euphoria!!!

Whether with fries, potato wedges or ugali, my ukwaju marinated spicy chicken thighs will be a major hit on your dinner table! So for this new month, step out of what you are used to and try out some big, bold flavors!

This recipe was part of Black History Month virtual potluck where black bloggers from all over the world (Africa, North America, South America, The Carribean) made their (delicious!!) contributions. Do check  out their delicious creations and get inspired to create that good food with a sprinkle of black magic ;)) !!!!!! These are 27 recipes, so for each day this month, try out one :)). They include :

Meiko and the Dish | Crispy Fried Chicken with Pepper Jelly Molasses

Whisk It Real Gud | Trinidad Oxtail Pelau

Raised on Ramen | Caramelized Plantain Tacos with Pecan-Honey Butter

Dash of Jazz | Aunt Georgia’s Peach Cobbler

Foodie In New York | Twice Baked Yams

The Seasoning Bottle | Jamaican Sorrel/Senegalese Bissap

Chef Kenneth | Smothered Okra with Shrimp

Savory Spicerack | Po’ Boys with Cajun Tempura Shrimp

Chocolate For Basil | Groundnut Stew (Peanut Stew)

Simply LaKita | Banana Pudding

My Forking Life | Callaloo and Saltfish

Gucci Belly | Swamp Water

Kaluhi’s Kitchen | Ukwaju (Tamarind) Marinated Spicy Chicken Thighs

Sweet Savant | Coffee-Rubbed Lamb Ribs

Salty Sweet Life | Southern Greens Shakshuka

Eat.Drink.Frolic. | Maple Roasted Brussels Sprouts

I Heart Recipes | Southern Fried Cabbage

Jehan Can Cook | Mango Turmeric Smoothie

Margarita’s On The Rocks | Lemon Pepper Fish Tacos with Collard Green Slaw

A Soulful Twist | Slow-Cooker Gumbo (Gluten Free)

The Kitchenista Diaries | Coconut Milk Braised Collard Greens

My Life Runs On Food | Orange Chocolate Smoothie

Butter Be Ready | Skillet Cornbread

Domestic Dee | Shrimp Creole

D.M.R. Fine Foods | Curry Chicken Pot Pie

The Inner Gourmet | Lamb Fried Rice

Marisa Moore Nutrition | Hoppin’ John Patties with Warm Tomato Salsa

The Hungry Hutch | Blood Orange Cornmeal Cake

To fantastic food,


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  1. GRACE


    • kaluhiskitchen

      The full recipe is right infront of you and at the very bottom you can down load a copy that you can save on your phone/tab/pc.

  2. The Duchess

    I can actually visualize the taste. Thank you Kaluhi

    • kaluhiskitchen

      Wait till you try it out! You will literally faint coz of sheer delight! <3

  3. abdinasir

    hy, am Somali and I like this but honestly i don’t know all the things you have used and where it can be found

    • kaluhiskitchen

      Tell me SPECIFICALLY which ingredient you are looking for. I do not know what you are looking for and it would be easy if you told me what you are searching for so that I can direct you.

  4. Emmah

    i am already having mouthgarsms…a must try, i repeat ,a must try

    • kaluhiskitchen


  5. Lynn

    Fantastic recipe indeed!
    If I cannot find the Shalimar, what can I use as a substitute?

    • kaluhiskitchen

      Unfortunately I do not think I can suggest a substitute for shalimar since it is a spice blend with a very particular taste. I would suggest you make this with just the pepper and royco or wait until you get shalimar.

  6. Maryann

    Hi. Is there any substitute for the shalimar cause I can only find for fish and prawns

    • kaluhiskitchen

      I would suggest you eliminate it and use only the royco and pepper. It willl turn out ok. Then when you can, find the tikka one and try with it next time you try the recipe.

      • Maryann

        Kindly instruct me on how to use the two.. I’m I to make a paste ama??

        • kaluhiskitchen

          How to use two what? Kindly be SPECIFIC so that I can help you?

          • Maryann

            You’ve advised me to use Royco and pepper. My question is whether you substitute the shalimar with the Royco and if so how do I make the coating paste out of the Royco and pepper??

          • kaluhiskitchen

            You said you cannot find Shalimar, right?? And I said, since you cannot find one of the three spices I uses (ieroyco, pepper and shalimar) eliminate shalimar and use only the remaining two (i.e royco and pepper). Make the coating the exact way I have instructed in the post (i.e by mixing the two with a bit of water and mixing it all up) I really really really hope you have read the post because I have explained all that.

  7. Maryann

    I did.. Thanks a lot

    • Maryann

      I tried the recipe for my family and friends over the weekend and they loved it. Thanks.. Still following

  8. Jasmine

    Hello! I really want to try these recipe. I am in the states. Where can I find Shalimar and Ukwaju? We have international Marts here and some carribean, Spanish and Indian food stores. I just don’t know where to start and Google wasn’t no help.

    • kaluhiskitchen

      The Indian food store might be of help. You can ask them for a chicken tikka spice blend, which I am sure they will help you out :))

  9. OokoL

    Hi. Since Nakumatt closed down, where else can one source the Shalimar paste?

    • kaluhiskitchen

      CarreFour. Or any other good, well stocked super market.

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