Saturday, December 24, 2016

Tandoori Chicken Salad
An Amazing Twist On An Old Favorite
by Marilyn Michael

As I’ve mentioned previously, I was fortunate to make a friend of a woman from Goa India. I met her when I volunteered to teach writing at my father’s senior center in Seattle. It was just one of the many gifts that came my way because of getting involved there. I encourage you to think of getting involved in something in the New Year that allows you to share gifts or knowledge you may have. You’ll receive more than you give.
A gift I received from my Goan friend was the opportunity to learn how to create numerous traditional Indian dishes such as Biryanis, and Pulaos. She set me on a road that has me continuing to enjoy studying, reading about, and being creative with making Indian and Indian-inspired dishes. I’ve loved simplifying them; making them in ways less intimidating to my uninitiated American friends. I’ve also enjoyed taking dishes more traditional to us in America, like chicken salad, and giving them an Indian twist.

There are many variations of spices used in Tandoori masala (spice mixture) marinade recipes common in Indian cuisine. This is a wet masala (when the spices are mixed with wet ingredients). It is a delicious marinade for chicken. You can marinate any chicken pieces and just serve them hot over rice if desired. (Try the Coconut Rice I offered earlier.) The amount is enough for around nine pieces of chicken. Think of gathering what you need as an adventure. Prepare extra packets of the dry spice mixture in snack-sized zipping bags for easy future marinades or gift friends the spices with the recipe.

Around 9 skinless bone-in chicken thighs (this recipe is for all the chicken, you can freeze half of it after baking and cooling it to make less and have chicken for another batch later, just use fewer scallions).
2 bunches scallions, chopped
Dried cranberries (softened in a bit of water in microwave for 1 min. then rough chop). Add as desired.
Chopped pecans. Add as desired.
Best Foods mayonnaise
For Marinade:
12 oz. plain nonfat yogurt (2 - 6 oz cups work)
Juice of 2 limes or lemons (can use equivalent lemon juice)
2 Tablespoon minced peeled gingerroot (I keep a jar of chopped ginger in fridge $1.99 in produce section. Ginger paste would work also).
2 Tablespoon minced garlic (I keep a jar of chopped garlic in fridge available for around $1.99 in produce sections).
2 tsp. coriander powder
2 tsp. cumin powder
2 tsp. garam masala
1 ½ tsp. salt
1 tsp. paprika
1 tsp. cayenne

(The above spices can be purchased inexpensively in bulk at PCC Markets in Seattle or some Whole Foods Markets.)

Rinse chicken and pat dry with paper towels. (I cut them in half for soaking up more marinade; you can score them against the grain as well, if desired.)

In a large non-reactive bowl, mix together yogurt, lime/lemon juice, ginger, garlic coriander, cumin, garam masala, salt, paprika and cayenne.

Add chicken making sure marinade covers all the pieces well. Cover bowl and marinate in refrigerator overnight. (I put them into a 1-gallon zipping bag.)

Preheat oven to 375. Remove chicken from marinade and place prepared shallow baking pan. Discard any remaining marinade. Bake in preheated oven until chicken is done. Check after 1/2 hour as you are using boneless and have cut the pieces smaller. (Ideally check with a meat thermometer, they are done at 165 degrees.)

Cool chicken and cut into 1" pieces in to a large bowl. Add scallions, cranberries, pecans. Mix in enough mayonnaise to bind the ingredients, but hold off on adding more to make it creamy because overnight the marinade will blend into the mayonnaise adding moisture. It will taste extra spicy until it mellows overnight. Refrigerate overnight. Add more mayonnaise before serving to create creaminess desired.

I’ve served it with crepes and Romaine leaves on the side for serving as an hors d'oeuvre at a holiday party, I’ve put them in premade pastry cups. You can just offer it plain on top of a garnish of greens for a potluck dish. We love it in sandwiches on Dill Rye bread.