Thursday, September 29, 2011

Tandoori Chicken

I love the flavors of Indian food, but have a hard time eating out at Indian restaurants - although easily vegetarian, nearly all vegetable dishes contain ghee (clarified butter), and I'm always leery that some will wind up in my plate even with a special request to leave it out.

Luckily it's not hard to capture the flavors of Indian cuisine at home.  Although this recipe is not actually cooked in a tandoor (clay oven), it keeps all the great flavor by giving Gardein chicken a long marinade.  It's a great recipe for busy weeknights; you can make the marinade in the morning and forget about it until evening, at which point the rest of the preparation comes together in about 20 minutes.

  • 3/4 cup coarsely chopped onion
  • 1 teaspoon coarsely chopped and peeled fresh ginger
  • 2 peeled garlic cloves
  • 1/2 cup plain non-dairy yogurt
  • 1 tablespoon fresh-squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • Dash of ground nutmeg
  • 4 Gardein Tuscan chicken breasts (without sauce)
  • Cooking spray
1. Place the onion, ginger, and garlic cloves in a food processor and pulse until finely chopped.

2. Add the yogurt, lemon juice, paprika, cumin, coriander, salt, chili powder, black pepper, and nutmeg.  Pulse about 4 times, until blended.

3. Cut 3 diagonal (1/4-inch deep) slits in the top of each Gardein chicken piece, and place in a large zip-top plastic bag with the yogurt mixture.  Seal and marinate in the fridge for at least 8 hours - or up to 12 hours - turning the bag occasionally.

4. Remove the chicken from the bag and discard the marinade.  Grill on an outdoor grill or indoor grill pan coated with cooking spray over high heat for 6 minutes on each side.

Note: this dish was another chance to play with my counter-top Griddler grill, but if you prefer, you could broil the chicken in the oven for the same amount of time on each side.

To continue with the theme of the night, I cut store-bought pitas into wedges, and made a quick homemade tabbouleh, that comes together while the chicken is grilling: soak 1 cup of uncooked bulgur in 2 cups boiling water for 20 minutes, just until tender.  Drain.  Combine the bulgur in a bowl with 1 and 1/2 cups chopped flat-leaf parsley, 1 cup chopped tomato, and 1/4 cup chopped green onions.  In a small bowl, whisk together 1/4 cup fresh-squeezed lemon juice, 1 and 1/2 tablespoons olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper.  Drizzle the lemon juice mixture over the bulgur mixture and toss to combine.

A quick tip when chopping large amounts of fresh herbs, such as the flat-leaf parsley in the tabbouleh: Snip with kitchen shears over a measuring cup, rather than chopping with a knife, and you'll have a much easier time of it.

Nutrition Info:
4 servings (1 chicken breast), Calories 146

Tasting Notes:
The chicken really did have an oven-baked taste to it, from the toastiness of the spices and the stint on the grill.  I would not discard the marinade next time, to capture even more of that flavor, and also recommend a little yogurt dipping sauce on the side.  Perfectly tasty nonetheless, and the tabbouleh and pita rounded it out into a satisfying meal.


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