I had a very special meal a couple of weeks ago with my son Patrick. It was a “going away” dinner shared by the two of us as he was leaving on a 4am flight for the Caribbean, to be a dive master for the summer. As we sat down to order, we chatted about the menu choices and decided that I was responsible for his “food snobbery”. I smiled and realized that our travels throughout the globe were always based on adventure and satisfying our taste buds and bellies.
On my recent business trip to India, I was able to slip in a few days of sightseeing and food discoveries. While in Delhi, I was treated to a wander through a local market…
followed by some hands on cooking with Meena Khanna. Meena not only offers cooking classes but also lovely accommodations called Colonel’s Retreat.
What I have come to realize is that no matter where we are in the world, food basics are all the same and the added extra ingredients makes the difference between an Indian curry or a Beef Stroganoff.
My first foray into Indian cuisine was primarily recipes from the North of India. Some would say Punjabi in style, I would say soul satisfying good. Interestingly, the North eats a lot more meat then the South so I made a Tandoorie Chicken.
Did you know that Tandoorie chicken is also chicken tikka and butter chicken? What gives them the different names are the way they are served. Chicken tikka is cut into pieces and threaded onto a skewer. Butter chicken is the same as tandoorie chicken but is grilled then served in a creamy tomato sauce. So if you have the basics for a tandoorie chicken, you can create three different meals by cutting the chicken differently or whipping up a quick and easy tomato sauce.
- 1 chicken (made into 8 pieces)
- 200 gm hung Curd or plain Greek yoghurt
- 4 teaspoons ginger paste (or fresh grated)
- 4 teaspoons garlic paste (or fresh grated)
- 3 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon chilli powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon garam masala[br][b]Garam Masala:[/b]
- 4 tablespoon cumin seed
- 1 tablespoon coriander seed
- 2 black cardamom pods
- 1 teaspoon Full black pepper
- 12 green cardamom pods
- 2 teaspoon ginger powder
- 4 sticks cinnamon (2” each)
- 10 clove
- 1 teaspoon mace
- ½ nutmeg
- 4 bay leaf
- Mix hung curd or yoghurt with salt, chilli powder, ginger, garlic and 2 tablespoons of lemon juice in a bowl.
- Make deep cuts into the chicken pieces and rub the yoghurt marinade into the pieces.
- Leave the chicken in the marinade for 2 to 3 hours – overnight is even better.
- Heat oil in a wok and deep fry the chicken a few pieces at a time OR heat up a grill and cook pieces over a medium-high heat.
- Sprinkle the chicken with garam masala and the 1 tablespoon of lemon juice before serving
- Some Indian restaurants add edible red coloring to the marinade to give that vibrant color but it really is not necessary and not as natural![br][b]For Garam Masala[/b]
- Grind all of these spices together to create a homemade garam masala. Every Indian chef creates his/her own mixture to give their dishes their own signature. This spice mixture is used at the end to add a final spice boost to the recipe.
- Garam Masala can be purchased but in India it is almost always made from scratch. The masala recipe above is just a guideline for the start of your own Masala. Good luck.
I also created a tikka chicken with the same batch of chicken just to show you how easy it is to make the various dishes.
This final picture is of the tandoorie chicken deep fried in India by Meena. I found it to be a little too greasy and also too crispy on the outside and undercooked on the inside. I would say that grilling is the best option though perhaps not the most authentic, in some minds.
Experiment with this basic Tandoorie recipe so that you can enjoy it in so many different ways. Bon appétit!