“A Menu of Memories”
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I wish I had one of those sizzling plates to serve my Tandoor Chicken on. That’s the best! When you go to an Indian restaurant and they come out with the sizzling platter with the red spiced chicken accompanied by onion slices and lemon wedges. Even without the sizzling platter, this dish holds a special spot in the memories from our wedding. Because it was a secret dish served at a secret hour for people who were too busy partying to stop and eat the fancy dinner. So we had to have it at this seven course meal filled with memories.
This is not a difficult dish to make. Believe me. And you don’t have to be a spice mix master to make it. You can be if you want. I am not one. I buy my Garam Masala premixed by a spice master in India who has been my family’s spice master for generations. But you can also buy it here in boxes or jars from Indian stores and some specialty markets. The same goes for Tandoori Masala. I have tried to make my own combination but I’ve never been as happy with the results as I have been with pre made mixes. The company I like to use most often for Tandoori Masala is Rajah. They claim to not use artificial colors. Which I like. Warning- this does take time to marinade and that is the key to the masala getting into the chicken. So plan ahead to get it into the marinade the night before or the morning of the dinner.
Serves 4-6 as an entree course in a seven course meal
1.5-2lbs Chicken Thighs- boneless and skinless please
2 cups Greek Yogurt
3 tbsp Tandoori Masala
Mix the yogurt and the masala in a large bowl. Add the chicken thighs and make sure they are well coated in the yogurt. Cover and refrigerate preferably overnight, at the least, six hours (really try for overnight-it just tastes better). Preheat your oven to 550 F. Make sure your baking rack is in the middle of the oven. Line a baking sheet with foil. Space the chicken out on the sheet and bake it for 25 minutes. You’ll start to see some black spots and you want to see those. After 25 minutes take the pan out and turn your broiler on. Put the pan back into the oven and let the chicken start to sizzle and get more dark spots on it. Just a few minutes. Watch it so it doesn’t burn. Take the pan out and transfer the chicken to a dish and cover. Let the chicken rest at least 15 minutes to make sure that the juices stay inside and that your chicken doesn’t dry out. I actually turned my oven to 200 F and kept the dish in the oven until everyone was ready for the entree course. It worked out well.
The chicken was served with a cilantro cream sauce and fresh naan. Naan can be bought from almost any grocery store these days or if you feel like making it like I did there is an excellent recipe on playful cooking.com for Instant Naan which uses whole wheat flour as well as all purpose, which I like, and also does not require yeast, which I like.
The sauce, on the other hand, is one of my own mixtures that I throw together quite often to serve as an accompaniment to any kind of Indian cuisine. Sometimes I like to add unsweetened coconut to it with some mustard seeds for South Indian dishes. But for this meal it was made as a light cream sauce to accent the chicken.
Cilantro Cream Sauce
Makes a little over 1 cup
1 cup Greek Yogurt
A Big Handful of Cilantro
2 inch Piece of Ginger-peeled and roughly chopped
4 Large Garlic Cloves-peeled and roughly chopped
8-10 mint leaves
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
Throw it all into a blender until its smooth. You can adjust the salt and pepper to your liking. If you would like to make it spicy you can throw one half or full serrano pepper. I like to serve it cold if its with a hot main dish. So for this particular seven course meal it was served chilled with the hot Tandoori Chicken.