Sunday, August 15, 2010

Tantalizing Tandoori Chicken

...or "The Best Chicken You've Ever Made," as my husband proclaimed as he bit into his dinner.

I've never tried an Indian dish, but after watching "The Mistress of Spices" and "Dhoom 2," I was inspired.  So I pulled up a few Tandoori Chicken recipes and then stuck with Eating Well's Tandoori Chicken, with a few twists of my own.

First, you need to make the marinade.  Start by measuring out your spices.  I decided to grind up my cumin.  By "grind," I mean "crush slightly."

If you have the means and the drive, invest in a mortar in pestle.  This simple little beauty cost about $5.  Taking the spice seeds or pods and smushing them yourself unlocks a fresh, bright flavor.  So worth the elbow grease.

Go ahead and throw them in a bowl.  Look at how beautiful these spices are!

Keep on adding.  You'll be so thankful.

Now, I added some tumeric and curry powder to my recipe.  What's so great about this marinade is that you can throw lots of different spices in there.  Experiment!

Okay, now, next... add your plain yogurt and stir it well.  It will look like this:

Add this to the chicken.  I put my chicken in a large zip-top bag and poured the marinade in.  Then I distributed it around.  Put it in the fridge for about 5 hours.  Stir or redistribute the marinade around the chicken a few times.  This, the time and the stirring, is KEY to your success.

In the meantime, grab a cuke and slice it up.

Then dice it!

Cooking is fun.  Now, here's a little trick.  Put some cilantro in a cup.  If you are one of those people who hates cilantro, you can use mint or even parsley.  This is going to become a raita, which is a cool compliment to your spicy chicken, so you can use whatever you like that sounds cooling.

Take your kitchen shears and chop it up in the cup.  You'll be left with this...

Chopped herbs!  You can use this with basil or parsley and get a really nice fine chop that is hard to get on a chopping board sometimes.  And it's more fun this way.  And it's a great job for kiddos that doesn't involve a sharp knife.  Everybody wins!

Add the cilantro/mint/parsley to the cucumber, and then put in 1-2 cloves minced garlic, salt and pepper.  Then add a few dollops of plain yogurt.

Viola!  Adjust to your taste.  Let this sit in the fridge for at least an hour.  It gets so yummy.  Again, experiment.  I put in a few cumin seeds.  Do what moves you.

Now, pull your chicken out of the fridge and put it in an ovenproof dish.

Preheat your oven to 500* F.  It's hot.  But that's part of the magic!  The hot oven is meant to mimic a clay oven or pot.  So, get on with your life and pop it in for about 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, made some rice or warm up some naan or roast some veggies or make a salad.  Whatever you want.  I went for some rice.  And I poured some wine!  It's a recipe for deliciousness.

So you get some seriously delicious chicken.  It's so moist!  I made it with chicken breasts.  I think the combination of marinading in yogurt for hours and then putting it in the oven at a high heat for a shorter period of time is what makes this so juicy and tasty.

Whatever the deal, this dish is pure magic.  If I were to do it again, I'd make basmati or jasmine rice, or better yet, coconut rice.  And I'd include naan.  And maybe some lime in my water?  And some lovely, cold fresh fruit on the side.  But as is, this is an easy and inexpensive meal that tastes amazing.

Until next time... eat well, my friends!

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