A few weekends ago, our Sunday School class had its annual class party at my house.
I LOVE having people over to my house, but I’ll admit I had ulterior motives for hosting: leftovers. People always insist on leaving leftovers.
Ok, twist my arm.
You see, everyone in this class COOKS. We have to, I guess, because it’s a class for single parents!
There were mocha cake balls (notice I started with dessert), cookies of all kinds, key lime pie and carrot cake. There were chips, queso, homemade salsa and guacamole. There was a sweet-and-salty brown sugar ham, homemade macaroni and cheese with a golden crust of perfectly toasted panko, a zesty Mexican layered casserole and a delicious cheesy chicken casserole. While it was all so scrumptious, the dish that made me especially happy when the cook offered to leave some for leftovers was tandoori chicken.
I had sort of coerced the chef into making this dish. She is South African by the way of Great Britain, and her accent is as delectable as her cooking. She’d mentioned on Facebook one day that she was in the midst of making a holiday feast for her family and I flat out responded, “Oh, that sounds good. Bring some to my house Sunday.”
She did. Tandoori chicken is traditionally an Indian dish. If you’ve ever spent any time in Great Britain, you know there’s a heavy Indian influence there, especially in London, where you can get succulent Indian take-out on almost every block. The chicken, traditionally thighs, is marinated in yogurt and a spice mixture that looks intimidating, but it’s well worth the complexity of flavor in the end result.
This recipe uses chicken breasts, which are on sale this week, and they stay juicy because of the rich marinade.
2 dried guajillo chiles (or 2 chiles de arbol)
2 green cardamom, husks discarded, seeds retained
1 black cardamom, husk discarded, seeds retained
1 teaspoon coriander seeds
1/2 tsp fennel seeds
1/2 tsp fenugreek seeds
1 cup whole fat plain yogurt
1/4 cup peanut or canola oil
2 Tbsp malt vinegar or lime juice
1 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp ground turmeric
pinch of cayenne pepper
8 cloves garlic, minced
2-inch stem ginger, peeled and minced
1 1/2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 teaspoon honey
salt and freshly ground black pepper
extra limes, for garnish
For the marinade, toast the cloves, whole chiles, both types of cardamom seeds, coriander seeds, fennel seeds and fenugreek seeds in a cast-iron skillet until fragrant (approximately 3 minutes) , shaking the pan. Then, pour the spices into a spice grinder and grind them until you get a fine powder.
In a large bowl, whisk together the spice mixture with the yogurt, oil, malt vinegar, salt, ground cinnamon, paprika, turmeric, cayenne pepper, garlic and ginger until well-combined. Adjust salt and pepper if needed.
Reserve 1/3 cup of the marinade and set aside; the extra will be used as a sauce.
Prick the chicken breasts with a fork. Add the chicken to the rest of the marinade and toss to coat. Marinate at least 1 hour in the refrigerator, up to overnight.
Line a baking sheet with foil and turn your broiler on. Shake excess marinade off of chicken, still ensuring it’s well-coated. Place each chicken breast on the baking sheet. Cook the chicken under the broiler until starting to crisp, about 5 minutes. Then, turn the oven to 350° F, and cook until a meat thermometer inserted in the meatiest part of the thigh registers 160° F, another 10 minutes. Remove from the oven.
While the chicken is cooking, pour the reserved marinade into a small saucepan, along with 1/2 cup water and the honey. Bring to a gentle boil over medium-low heat, whisking constantly. Remove from heat and reserve for serving.
Serve the chicken breasts on a platter with a fresh squeeze of lime and a drizzle of the sauce.
Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 316, Calories from Fat: 117, Fat: 13 g, Trans Fat: 0 g (4 g Saturated Fat), Cholesterol: 104 mg, Sodium: 510 mg, Carbohydrates: 11 g, Fiber: 2 g, Sugar: 6 g, Protein: 37 g