Still facing a mountain of leftover rice, I decided it was time to throw something saucy over it.
I sometimes shy away from Indian food because the overly spicy-hot dishes scare my digestive system. But my husband loves it, and we both really enjoyed a chicken tikka pizza I made about a month ago, from Cooking Light. I was struck by how this recipe gives just the right amount of heat so it is pleasant and neither bland nor sweat-producing. Here’s a look at how it turned out.
This time, I easily made it workable for an entrée over rice. For a side, I made another fairly universally liked Indian recipe, cucumber raita. It just happened to work out that the cucumber crop is one of the few that is currently thriving at my CSA farm!
adapted from Cooking Light
12 ounces skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
1/4 cup plain greek or regular low-fat yogurt
2 teaspoons garam masala*, divided
5/8 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
1 (14.5-ounce) can unsalted diced tomatoes, drained
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon fresh ginger, peeled and grated, which is easily done with a piece kept in the freezer
1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 Cup red onion, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons half and half, cream, or milk — whatever you have should be OK
*Although I have a fairly broad span of spices in my pantry, garam masala is not one of them. Instead, I have many of the ingredient spices that go into a freshly ground garam masala. One of the reasons I have some of these whole spices is that last Christmas/Hanukkah I decided to make homemade mulling spice bags as gifts to some of my family. Here’s the recipe I followed for garam masala, with some substitutions — I didn’t have whole coriander seeds, just ground, and no black cumin seeds, so I just increased the regular cumin seeds. My cardamom was also green, not black. The fact that is still turned out well leads me to believe that you could also fudge this a little bit and still make it tasty! You could also just buy the garam masala, I suppose–preferably from a place where they sell it in bulk by the ounce.
Preheat broiler to high. Cut chicken in half horizontally. Combine chicken, yogurt, and 1/2 teaspoon garam masala. I let mine sit in the mixture for about 15 minutes while I prepared some of the other ingredients, and raita, so it would marinate a little bit.
Place on a foil-lined baking sheet coated with cooking spray; sprinkle with 1/8 teaspoon salt.
Broil 5 minutes on each side.
Add diced tomatoes to a food processor, blender, or mini chopper and pulse until almost smooth.
Heat a skillet over medium-high heat. Add oil to pan. Add 1 1/2 teaspoons garam masala, ginger, red pepper, garlic, and red onion. Cook 1 minute.
Stir in tomatoes; simmer 4 minutes. Stir in 1/2 teaspoon salt and cream. Cook on low for 1 minute.
Cut chicken into pieces. Add chicken to pan and mix.
Cucumber and Yogurt Salad
Adapted from Food Network
1 1/4 Cups 2% Greek yogurt, or regular plain yogurt strained a bit
1 Cup cucumber, a combination of chopped and coarsely shredded
1/4 Cup carrots, shredded
1/2 large clove garlic, finely minced, about 1 Tablespoon
a few springs of fresh cilantro, finely minced to make about 1/4 Cup
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoons raisins
Freshly ground black pepper
I followed the original recipe for this recipe pretty much exactly one time before, and it was a hit. This time I modified it a bit because I had some carrots that were starting to languish, and some reviewers said that you can use any vegetables. Also, cilantro and mint are apparently interchangeable for this. Lastly, I ran out of golden raisins, but I remember that the burst of sweetness they provided was especially tasty, so I had to try it with regular raisins.
Whisk the yogurt until smooth. Add the rest of the ingredients, grinding a little black pepper in to taste.
Stir, chill, and serve.
I found a great list of variations on raita from The New York Times online. Some of them seem so crazy to me I may have to try them someday!
Serve chicken tikka mixture over basmati rice with cooling yogurt salad on the side. Top with a few fresh cilantro leaves.
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