Explore abroad for new meal flavors

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Looking for something new for dinner? Consider the foods of a country you may not normally eat.

Indian food is filled with lean meats and seafood, vegetables and aromatic spices that offer a break from the ordinary.

A new book by Raghavan Iyer, "Indian Cooking Unfolded," is an easy guide for learning the basics of Indian cooking, with detailed instructions and simple recipes, many of which include 10 ingredients or fewer.

Try out this recipe for simple chicken kebabs that include a creamy marinade flavored with garlic, ginger and Indian spices.

Creamy Chicken Kebabs

Makes 4 servings.

½ cup half-and-half 6 medium-sized cloves of garlic

4 pieces fresh ginger (each about the size and thickness of a quarter; no need to peel the skin)

1½ tsp. coarse kosher or sea salt

1 tsp. garam masala spice mix

½ tsp. cayenne pepper

1 ½ lbs. skinless, boneless chicken breasts, cut at a diagonal into ½-inch wide strips

Nonfat cooking spray

1 small red onion, cut in half lengthwise and thinly sliced

2 tbsp. finely chopped fresh cilantro, leaves and tender stems

1 large lime, cut into 8 wedges

Pour the half-and-half into a blender and add the garlic and ginger. Puree until smooth. Scrape into a medium-sized bowl and whisk in the salt, garam masala and cayenne. Add the strips of chicken. Stir to mix well and refrigerate the chicken for at least 30 minutes or as long as overnight. The longer you marinate the chicken, the deeper its flavors will be.

Preheat a gas or charcoal grill, or the broiler to high.

While the grill or broiler heats, thread the chicken strips onto bamboo or metal skewers, weaving them on by going over and under the strip with the skewer. Reserve any remaining marinade. Leave about ¼-inch of space between each piece of chicken on the metal skewers to allow them to cook evenly.

If you are grilling the kebabs, lightly spray the grill rack with cooking spray. Arrange the kebabs on the grill rack, and baste the meat with the reserved marinade. Cover the grill, and grill the chicken, turning the skewers occasionally until the chicken pieces are light brown, 6 to 8 minutes. To test for doneness, slice into a piece with a paring knife; the meat should no longer be pink and the juices should run clear.

If you are broiling the kebabs, position a rack in the broiler so that the top of the chicken will be 2 to 3 inches from the heat. Lightly spray the rack of a broiler pan with cooking spray, place the skewers on the rack, and broil the chicken, turning the skewers occasionally and basting the meat with the reserved marinade, until the chicken pieces are light brown, the meat is no longer pink inside, and the juices run clear, 6 to 8 minutes.

Slide the chicken off the skewers onto a serving plate. Quickly toss the onion and cilantro together in a small bowl. Spread the onion mixture over the kebabs and serve the wedges of lime alongside.