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Grilled Chicken Cafreal

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yYou are going to love this grilled chicken cafreal recipe! I promise.

This grilled chicken cafreal recipe is from the barbecue section of my cookbook ‘The Curry Guy Light’. As you will see from the recipe, it is grilled chicken cafreal just like you will find at some of the best restaurants in Goa! Grilled chicken cafreal might be light but it most certainly doesn’t taste like bland diet food!

Grilled Chicken Cafreal

Chicken cafreal is just one of over 100 light recipes in ‘The Curry Guy Light’.

About this grilled chicken cafreal

You may already know that the original cafreal was brought to Goa by the Portuguese. The Portuguese first learned to make it in their African colonies, and the Goans learned to make it from them and the African sailors who worked on their ships.

As with so many Goan recipes, I’m sure they made a few changes to the original to make it their own. Many say that it is a green version of piri piri, which also originated in Africa.

Do you have to cook this chicken cafeal on the barbecue?

Absolutely not!  In fact you will find that in most recipes, the marinated chicken is usually fried. You could of course fry it or bake it in the oven. Just remember that if you are trying to cook light, the chicken cafreal will have more calories and fat if you fry instead of grill the chicken. If you like barbecue, you will most surely love the flavour of the chicken cafreal cooked over the coals.

Can you use the cafreal marinade in other dishes?

Yes! Although this is a very famous chicken dish, the marinade goes equally well with fish, vegetables and paneer. Taste the marinade when if is ready and you will see it’s so good!

Use it as a marinade for whatever you like. You’ll love it! 

What do you serve this grilled chicken cafreal with?

In ‘The Curry Guy Light’, I suggested serving this curry with brown rice and/or a simple mixed green salad.

You might enjoy this with simple steamed basmati rice.


Yield: 4

Grilled Chicken Cafreal

Grilled Chicken Cafreal
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 35 minutes


  • 1 generous tbsp black peppercorns
  • 8 cloves
  • 1⁄2 cinnamon stick, broken into
  • small pieces
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds
  • 1 1⁄2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 100g (31⁄2oz) very fresh coriander (cilantro) leaves and stalks, roughly chopped
  • 5 green chillies, roughly
  • chopped (more or less, to
  • taste)
  • 10 garlic cloves
  • 5cm (2 inch) piece of ginger,
  • peeled and roughly chopped Juice of 1–2 limes
  • 1.2kg (2lb 10oz) chicken, skinned and cut into 8 pieces
  • 1 tsp rapeseed (canola) oil or cooking spray
  • 70ml (1⁄4 cup) coconut vinegar or malt vinegar
  • Salt, to taste
  • 2 long red chillies, cut into rings 3 tbsp coriander (cilantro)
  • leaves, finely chopped


  1. Heat a dry frying pan over a medium heat and toast the whole spices until fragrant and warm to the touch, but not smoking. Transfer the spices to a bowl to cool, then grind them to a fine powder in a spice grinder or pestle and mortar. Place the coriander, chillies, garlic, ginger and lime juice in the spice grinder or pestle and mortar and pound or grind to a thick green paste. If you need a little more liquid to help with the blending, add some of the vinegar.
  2. Cut a few shallow slits in each piece of chicken using a sharp knife. Place the chicken in a large bowl and rub the coriander paste into it, ensuring it is well coated. Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or overnight – the longer the better.
  3. When ready to cook, set up your barbecue for direct heat cooking. Brush the grill with the oil or spray it with cooking spray. When really hot, remove as much of the marinade from the chicken as possible, but do not discard the marinade. Grill the chicken pieces on one side for about 3 minutes, or until it begins to char, then flip over to char the other side.
  4. When the chicken is nicely charred but not completely cooked through, place a saucepan or wok on the grill. Put the charred chicken pieces in the pan. Clean the bowl that the chicken was marinating in with about 125ml (1⁄2 cup) of water, mixing all the leftover marinade into the water. Add the vinegar, then pour this liquid over the chicken in the pan.
  5. Simmer for 5–10 minutes until the chicken is completely cooked through and you have a nice thick, green sauce.
  6. To serve, place the chicken on a plate and spoon the cooking sauce over it. Season with salt and garnish with the chillies and coriander.

Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:


Amount Per Serving: Calories: 239Total Fat: 2gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 2gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 207mgCarbohydrates: 4.6gFiber: 9gSugar: 16gProtein: 4g

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I hope you enjoy this grilled chicken cafreal recipe. It is just one of over 100 delicious and light recipes from ‘The Curry Guy Light’ cookbook. If you do try it, please leave a comment. I’d love to hear from you.

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