Sunday, 6 May 2012

Restaurant Style Chicken Tikka

There is nothing as tranquil as being on the beach, early morning when everything around is so beautiful, so fresh and so serene, but on nice sunny day. Being in the UK, warm weather is something we’ve been missing these days, so we need to utilise as much as of the sunny days we get.. It used to be the other way around while I used to live in Abu dhabi. We used to pray for rain, and when it drizzles, we stretch our hands out the window to catch few drops.Few precious drops..

We have been living in this part of Tyne & Wear for more than a year and half and it was not until recently that we discovered one of the beautiful beaches around, Fish Quays. It’s just couple of minutes from my son’s school and on days with less house chores, I drive down to spend some time on the beach. The beach in the morning is beautiful with fresh air to breathe in, less crowded apart from few elderly people sitting in their cars enjoying the beach or walking their dogs. It is very refreshing and relaxing. There are many old benches lined along the shore, where I sit for a while looking far at the sea, the fort, the ships, gulls etc.

But these days, in spite of it being spring, it is just like another winter. So cold, and with the wind, it just makes it all worse. The other day, when I went to the beach, the tide was really low so I just walked down a bit further skimming through the slippery dirt-green sea weed covered rocks. I had seen a bloke returning with a little bagful of mussels. So I just looked around the grooves and creases to see if I could spot something. I was super excited to see some fresh live mussels clutched on to the mossy rocks covered in slimy see weeds. 

As most woman I also get sold for anything that comes free and on sale, so, I started picking them, but was a bit wary if there would be some creatures around. Despite that, it was too cold that my fingers started getting numb, so I left the idea of picking them. Sad I dint carry my camera with me that day, I couldn’t any pictures of the mussels, mossy rocks etc. But here are few pictures for you that I captured on a bright sunny day, when the tide was high, no shore to be seen and no mossy rocks. It was all under the furious sea. I will share more pictures in some other post, when I get to take more of them.

Now, coming to the recipe, chicken tikka is something that needs no introduction. Mildly spiced boneless chicken cubes cooked on a charcoal grill is a crowd pleasing appetizer and is very popular in countries all over the world. It has gained much popularity over time. The tikka is traditionally made in a hot clay based oven called Tandoor. But at home, it can easily made in a very hot oven. I usually set my oven to 200ºC when I bake kebabs but many recipes asks to set the oven at 230 or so. 

This is one of the regular starters that we order at any Indian restaurant or take-away. This recipe of chicken tikka tastes just like restaurant one, if not better. I have been making this for years now, making no changes and can easily be doubled. I found this recipe on net long back, and I haven’t got the link saved. So, if this recipe belongs to someone you know, please write to me, I will add the link.

Chicken Tikka
Serves 3 - 4

400 gm Skinless boneless chicken pieces ( 2 medium breast pieces)
2 tbs Fresh lemon/lime juice
½ - ¾ tsp Salt
2 tbs Greek yogurt
2 garlic cloves, minced
3/4 tbs ground coriander
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 ts ground turmeric
1 tsp minced ginger
1 tsp red chilli powder
½ tsp - 1 tsp methy leaves crushed (fenugreek leaves)
Few drops of orange red food colour (optional)
2-3 tbsp butter, melted or ghee
2 tomatoes, cored, and flesh scooped out
2 onions cut into squares
Extra lemon/lime juice to squeeze on the kebabs.
6 Bamboo skewers, soaked in water for an hour (6- to 8-inch)

1. Wash the chicken and place it n a colander to drain off excess water. Wipe off the excess water using a kitchen towel and cut the chicken into 2" thickness.  Combine chicken, lemon juice and salt in a bowl and let it sit for 30 minutes. 

2. Mix Greek yogurt, minced garlic and ginger, coriander powder, cumin powder, turmeric powder and chilli powder in small bowl. Add food colour and mix well. Add in the chicken cubes and stir until chicken is well coated with spice mixture.

3. Refrigerate chicken at least 3 hours or overnight. I usually marinate it overnight to let the flavours steep in.

4. Preheat the grill to 200ºC. Thread chicken on skewers, alternating with onion wedges and cubed tomatoes.

5. Brush chicken and vegetables with melted butter. Grill kebabs until well cooked, turning frequently, and applying butter in between. Cook until you see brown spots here and there. It will take about 20 minutes. Keep checking for doneness in between, as overcooking them can make them dry and ruin the taste. Squeeze lemon juice once they are done, if required. You can also sprinkle little garam masala to boost up the spice level.

Notes and tips:
1. The bamboo sticks should be soaked in cold water to prevent the wood from burning while cooking.

2. If you have no skewers, just lay the kebabs flat on a baking tray and cook till done, turning sides and basting with melted butter or ghee every time you turn, to keep them juicy.

3. You can also pan fry them in little oil, if you have no access to oven.

4. Make sure that there is no moisture in chicken at all prior to marinating.
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