Chicken Tikka

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!

Chicken Tikka
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
Cooking spray
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.
DSC_5036Stir 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.


Careful not to add TOO much garlic to this recipe, as it can really "bloom" as it sits.

Careful not to add TOO much garlic to this recipe, as it can really “bloom” as it sits.

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.

Weekend Cooking – Part 2

Among the other ingredients I had lying around was red cabbage. A portion of the red cabbage had been dressed with lime juice and olive oil for slaw for fish tacos earlier in the week, but that barely made a dent. How is it that such a small-looking head of cabbage can make SO MANY shredded cups?
The simply dressed slaw wasn’t doing it for me. I needed to bump it up a notch. And I was already pickling something, so I didn’t want to go that route. Little did I know that a raspberry vinaigrette would do so well!

Here’s my inspiration: Red Cabbage Salad with Green Apple, Lingonberry Preserves, and Toasted Walnuts. Old Viki might say, aw man, I don’t have lingonberry, do I have to go out and buy those to make this recipe?
New Viki says, hmm, I have all this raspberry jam I just made with the berries from my proliferating raspberry bush, could that work?

The answer is, of course. It works wonderfully.

Red Cabbage Salad with Raspberry Vinaigrette, Green Apple and Toasted Walnuts
Adapted from Epicurious/Bon Appetit again
Servings: 4

3 Tablespoons raspberry jam or preserve, preferably seedless but oh well
1 Tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon of lemon/lime juice
, or just more red wine vinegar
1/3-1/2 Cup canola oil
1 unpeeled Granny Smith apple
, cored and coarsely grated
1/2 cup walnut halves, toasted
4 cups thinly sliced red cabbage

To slice cabbage, first cut the head into quarters and then slice out the white core.

Toast the walnuts in the oven, on the stove, or in the microwave – be careful not to burn them like I always do.
To make the dressing, puree 1 tablespoon fruit jam/preserves, mustard, vinegar and lemon/lime juice in blender or food processor. Gradually add oil, with machine running if possible. Season dressing to taste with salt and pepper.

Set aside 1/4 of grated apple and several walnut halves for garnish.

Toss cabbage, remaining 2 tablespoons jam/preserves, apple, and walnuts in large bowl. Toss with enough dressing to coat. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Garnish with reserved grated apple and walnut halves and serve.
Result: a pleasant Saturday lunch–when accompanied 1/2 a grilled cheese sandwich 🙂

DSC_4876And lastly, Saturday’s dinner. I once again tackled the stock of brown rice in my pantry. In spite of the fact my husband is a virtual carb-o-tarian, grains aren’t consumed as quickly as I would like. So I cooked the rest of a package of brown basmati rice on Friday night and had the leftovers ready to go on Saturday for a deliciously simple preparation of fried rice with ground turkey. Which meant I got to use my wok!

Turkey Fried Rice
from Taste of Home
Servings: 4

1 tablespoon olive oil
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 pound ground turkey
2 green onions
, thinly sliced (about 1/3 C)
1 clove of garlic, thinly sliced
3 cups cold cooked rice
1 cup bean sprouts (I used sprouts from a can)
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, minced
1/4 cup reduced-sodium soy sauce
2 tablespoons chunky peanut butter
1 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger


Wine is one of the most essential ingredients shown in this picture.

In a large skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Pour eggs into skillet. As eggs set, lift edges, letting uncooked portion flow underneath.
When eggs are completely cooked, remove to a plate and set aside.

In the same skillet or wok, cook turkey, green onions, and garlic over medium heat until meat is no longer pink. While turkey cooks, whisk until blended the soy sauce, peanut butter, sugar, garlic powder, red pepper flakes, and ginger in a small bowl and set aside.
Stir the rice, bean sprouts and cilantro and cook briefly until heated through. Stir sauce into skillet.
Chop egg into small pieces; stir into skillet and heat through.

Serve with a lime wedge. Then, if you’re like me, settle in front of the TV to watch a movie.