Recipe from The One-Dish Chicken Cookbook: 120 Simply Delicious Recipes from Around the World by Mary Ellen Evans. Published by Broadway Books, a division of Random House, Inc., New York. © 2006 by Mary Ellen Evans. Used with permission of the publisher.
Makes 4 servings
This recipe is a tandoor dish from northern India. Tikka translates as "drops" or "round"—a shape that manifests itself as bite-sized kebabs. American kitchens aren't blessed with intense, clay tandoor ovens, but by using the broiler pan as our cooking container of choice, it's possible to approximate a tandoor's quick cooking with little effort.
As an interesting culinary aside, add a tomato-based sauce to Chicken Tikka and it becomes Chicken Tikka Masala, renowned throughout the United Kingdom and considered to be more British than Indian.
1/3 cup plain yogurt
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon canola oil
2 large garlic cloves, minced (about 1 tablespoon)
1 tablespoon minced ginger
1 teaspoon ground coriander
3/4 teaspoon ground cumin
3/4 teaspoon garam masala
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon cayenne
Four 6-ounce boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, cut in 1-1/2 inch cubes
8 wooden skewers
Combine the yogurt, lemon juice, canola oil, garlic, ginger, coriander, cumin, garam masala, turmeric, salt, and cayenne in a large, self-sealing plastic bag. Squeeze to blend thoroughly. Add the chicken and squeeze and turn to coat. Marinate in the refrigerator a minimum of 1 hour but up to 12 hours, turning occasionally.
Soak the skewers in water for 30 minutes. Heat the broiler. Thread the marinated chicken on the skewers, leaving a bit of space between the chicken cubes. Arrange on a lightly greased broiler pan. Broil 6 inches from the heat for 8 minutes, turning every 2 minutes, until the chicken is no longer pink in the center when cut with a knife.
Make Ahead: Marinate the chicken and thread on the skewers. Refrigerate, covered, until ready to broil.
Serve With: Because this dish is often served with cabbage in restaurants, add coleslaw seasoned with cumin and mustard seeds plus basmati rice and naan.
Garam masala is a fragrant blend of spices originating in northern India. It has as many variations as there are cooks. A typical blend might include cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, black pepper, cumin, coriander, cardamom, and fennel seeds. Adding dried chiles ups the heat quotient. Find garam masala in Indian markets and many supermarkets, or improvise your own.
Another time try marinating the chicken breasts whole and cooking them on a charcoal grill, turning every 2-3 minutes, until no pink remains in the center of the breasts. Or marinate a whole chicken and slow roast, basting with pan juices
THOUGHTS FROM LYNNE
India has been a center for the world's most sophisticated vegetarian cuisine for over two thousand years. Dig into this vast collection of dishes in books by Maya Kamail, Madhur Jaffrey, Julie Sahni, Raghavan Iyer and many others. Even if you don't follow recipes to the letter, you will pick up ideas and new techniques. For instance, the different effects you can achieve by roasting spices, or frying them, grinding them fresh, or using preground ones.
Some specific titles from these authors include An Invitation to Indian Cooking and From Curries to Kebabs: Recipes from the Indian Spice Trail by Madhur Jaffrey; Julie Sahni's seminal Savoring India and Classic Indian Cooking; The Turmeric Trail: Recipes and Memories from an Indian Childhood by Raghavan Iyer; and Maya Kaimal's Savoring the Spice Coast of India.