Tandoor Tikka

I am often asked which I prefer cooking on - a gas or charcoal grill? The verdicts still out on that question. They both have their obvious advantages. My best advice is to use what you are comfortable with but I also encourage walking over to the wild side every once in a while.

I'd like to highlight another type of grill or in this case - oven, which has huge appeal around the globe and is gaining appeal in the US.  

Many cultures claim the origin of a ancient tandoor oven; however its roots have most likely been from Middle Eastern and Roman origin. The Tandoor oven is a cylindrical clay oven with its heat source from wood, charcoal, or gas fired; putting out about 100,000 BTU’s per hour reaching up to 900 degrees F. It can BBQ your chicken lickety-split. 

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clay tandoor

Most households don’t have a backyard tandoor, but this shouldn’t stop you from making this flavorful tandoor inspired marinated chicken dish - skewered and grilled, right on your own backyard grill. Chicken Tikka (meaning bits & pieces) of South Asain origin is usually boneless chicken grilled in a Tandoor.  Although there is nothing better than going to the source for Chicken Tikka, here’s a nice version to-do at home along with alternatives to seasoning if you can't shop for spices in an Indian market. 

Note: Chicken Tikka Masala is known as the “unofficial” British national dish and is made from Chicken Tikka; with the addition of a masala sauce. During summer, I prefer to serve the Chicken Tikka without the sauce, and serve with a cool refreshing salad, nann bread, and couscous

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Chicken Tikka

Makes six servings  | recipe by George Hirsch

2 pounds of boneless chicken, breasts or thighs cut into 3-4 inch pieces

1/4 cup melted butter

1 lime, cut into six wedges

1/4 sweet onion, sliced

2 Tablespoons cilantro, chopped

The Marinade:

Juice of 1 lime

1 cup plain yogurt

1 Tablespoon olive oil

6 cloves garlic, chopped

1 Tablespoon, fresh ginger, pealed and chopped

1 Tablespoon turmeric 

1 teaspoon each: cumin, paprika, chili powder, cinnamon

pinch fresh grated nutmeg

2 Tablespoon fresh cilantro, chopped

1 teaspoon hot sauce

fresh ground black pepper 

pinch sea salt

In a shallow bowl combine the lime juice, yogurt, olive oil, garlic, ginger, turmeric, cumin, paprika, chili powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, cilantro, hot sauce, salt and mix well. Add the chicken, sprinkle liberally with black pepper. Marinate overnight or at least 4 hours in the refrigerator, turning occasionally.

Remove chicken and drain marinade and discard. Thread chicken on metal skewers or pre-soaked bamboo skewers. 

Pre heat grill to high heat.

Brush chicken meat with melted butter and sear chicken k-bobs on hot grill for 3 to 4 minutes on each side.  Brush with additional butter occasionally to add additional flavor. 

Move k-bobs to medium heat or to cooler edge of the grill and cook until done, about 12 to 15 minutes, or until completely cooked. 

Place on a platter with couscous, sliced onion, top with fresh cilantro and fresh lime wedges.              

Optional: Serve with a chutney and chopped fresh chilies, to personal taste.

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