Peruvian Inspired Grilled Chicken with Roasted Jalapeno Sauce

Peruvian Inspired Grilled Chicken with Roasted Jalapeno Sauce

There's a really great Peruvian restaurant in my hometown, Kalamazoo Michigan. My mom and I stumbled upon it one day, looking for a late lunch. Wanting something different than the standard small town, chain restaurant, fare, I spotted the small sign advertising El Inka in a strip mall across the parking lot. It was wonderful. Had I not been so engrossed by the meal, I would have snapped a few photos with my phone.

We started with Peruvian corn as an appetizer, something very similar to the corn nuts of my childhood, but much, much better. Mom had a soda (which she has since given up, yay!) and I had a chica morada, a slightly sweet drink made from purple corn that was described as the "lemonade" of Peru, or what one might have on a hot summer day to quench your thirst. It was interesting and surprisingly good. For our meal, mom went with the house specialty, pollo a la brasa, a roasted chicken with South American seasonings while I had a dish recommended by our server, aji de gallina, a spicy gravy with shredded chicken served with potatoes and rice. Everything was just delicious and it was a memorable meal.

My desire for an easy meal with some of these same flavors took me to the web in search for Peruvian recipes. While I didn’t fully recreate the taste and experience of El Inka, this meal has some of the same flavors and a sauce that is one of the best things I’ve made recently. Ryan and I decided the sauce was really the star of the plate and would be wonderful in many other dishes.

The chicken breast is marinated in a combination of citrus juice and spices and left to hang out in the refrigerator for a half hour. The sauce was a creation based on ingredients I had on hand. Roasting the jalapeno pepper really elevates the sauce. I always have plain greek yogurt on hand and use it in so many ways. It’s a great wet ingredient for baking, and is my substitution for sour cream in tacos and in this sauce. I love the tanginess of greek yogurt and will eat it with just a drizzle of honey for a really healthy breakfast. We have a gas burner in our kitchen so roasting the jalapeno pepper was pretty simple, using some heavy tongs, I simply held it over the flame until it was charred on all sides. I let it rest in a small bowl covered with plastic wrap for 10 minutes until the charred outer skin peeled right off. I was left with a smoky, slightly sweet, intense pepper flavor that works well in this sauce. Blended with the remaining ingredients, it was simple to put together. In the future I would double the sauce recipe so I had leftovers! If you don’t have a gas burner, you can roast the jalapeno pepper under a broiler, watching it carefully and turning it as it roasts.

The chicken is served with a cilantro lime rice and sauteed greens. We eat a lot of greens and my favorite preparation is simply sauteed in a little olive oil with garlic and finished with either lemon juice or soy sauce; in this case I opted for the saltiness of the soy to play off the cilantro lime rice.

While this recipe is certainly not pollo a la brasa, and doesn’t use aji peppers, it does remind me of the flavors of our Peruvian meal.


Print recipes

Chicken Marinade Ingredients

Marinade for two chicken breasts

  • Zest of 1 lime
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • Tablespoon of cumin powder
  • Teaspoon of chili powder
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons of soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup of vegetable oil
  • salt and pepper to taste


  1. Combine marinade ingredients in a shallow dish.
  2. Cover two medium sized chicken breasts with marinade and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.


Roasted Jalapeno Sauce Ingredients

  • 1 clove of garlic, sliced
  • 1 jalapeno
  • 1 handful of fresh cilantro
  • 1 tablespoon of cumin powder
  • 1/4 of plain greek yogurt or sour cream
  • 1 tablespoon of white vinegar
  • salt and pepper to taste


  1. Roast jalapeno pepper over gas flame or under broiler until charred on all sides.
  2. Let rest in a small dish, covered with plastic wrap for 10 minutes.
  3. Peel and remove seeds.
  4. Add jalapeno and all remaining ingredients to a blender or food processor and blend until smooth
  5. Grill the marinated chicken until a meat thermometer reads at least 165 degrees. Rest meat for 5 minutes before slicing.
  6. Slice chicken and serve over cilantro lime rice with sauteed green vegetables.
  7. Drizzle sauce over chicken to finish.

Sharing our culinary adventures in Cascadia with simple, sustainable & satisfying eats. Bon Appétit!