Saturday, May 1, 2021

It's Time To Get Your Grill On With Saffron Tikka, And The Easiest, Fastest, Marinade Ever!

   It sounds like the worst cliche ever, but "I can't believe it's May" has been running through my head daily. Last year, the first half of the year seemed like I didn't experience it at all since I actually didn't. I was in bed with Covid for about 2 months and so now I'm not sure where we are in the year. I do know that it's getting warmer and sunnier, though one wouldn't be sure of that looking out the window today, and grilling season is upon us!

  We were recently vaccinated so now I'm finally going to be able to share what I've been doing with my Homdoor Tandoori Oven with some vaccinated friends. We haven't had anyone in the house since February of last year and so when a vaccinated neighbor joined us for chai the other afternoon, we sat on the deck and stared at each other without masks for the first time in what seems like ages. I think I'm going to have to be re-socialized again since like the dog, I want to jump all over people I've missed for so long. I'm not humping any legs but you get the idea. 

  Anyway, to get in practice for what I'm hoping will be an outdoor cook-out sort of Summer I fired up the Homdoor the other day and decided to solve a question people always ask...."Do I really have to marinate anything I cook in it overnight? That's too much planning for me! Well, for those people who like to Tandoor when they feel like Saffron Tikka, the short marinade tandoor dish that can be ready in just a few hours. Marinate it at breakfast, grill it at dinner...or even a late lunch. Don't worry about anything in this recipe. There's nothing that you don't have at home, or can't easily get . Just a few ingredients + time = mouth fun.

Saffron Tikka and Garnish

Here's What You Need:

1 1/2 lbs of chicken cut into chunks for skewering

1 will use 2 tbs of papaya mashed into a paste

1 cup of yogurt

1/4 tsp saffron

8 green cardamom pods powdered

3 Tbs vegetable oil

2 tsp  salt

a little melted butter or ghee to baste

- Garnish -

leftover marinade ...the part you did NOT soak the chicken in

2  Tbs ground almonds

2 Tbs ground walnuts

1 Tbs chopped fresh cilantro

Here's What To Do:

Assemble your ingredients.

Blend everything together well.

  Any saffron you get at the market usually looks something like this.

It should be dry toasted in a pan for just a few minutes before crumbling into the marinade. I get around this by using a powdered saffron I got turned onto by my Friend Judy  at Divina Cucina. This stuff is great and I am now using it almost any time saffron is called for. Zafferano Meneghino can be ordered online from Amazon. It;s extremely easy to use and tastes great.

When the marinade is blended, set aside a small amount to be used in the garnish. Never use the marinade after chicken's been soaking in it. You wouldn't drink your bathwater would you?

Set the chicken pieces into the marinade, cover and refrigerate for about 6 hours. Don't forget to save some marinade for the garnish.

- Making The Garnish - 

Make this just before you cook the Tikkas so it's warm and waiting to be served.


Here's What To Do:

Scoop the leftover marinade into a pan

Add in the ground almonds and walnuts...

...and the chopped cilantro.

Heat the mixture on a low flame and stir until it thickens.

Place it in a bowl and set it aside, now we're ready to cook.

Wash and oil your skewers.

Thread the chunks of chicken onto the skewers. I find a thick slice of potato makes an excellent spacer and stopper so nothing falls off the skewers into the flames.

Just like this.

Place the  skewers on a tray and set them aside while you light the tandoor.

When the tandoor has reached about 480 to 500 degrees  put the skewers into the fire.

Arrange them next to each other so they cook evenly.

Partially cover the tandoor to hold the heat, checking them occasionally and rotating the skewers as needed. Cook for 10 minutes.

Take the skewers out and stand them upright against the tandoor so the drippings don't fall into the oven.

Baste them with some of the melted ghee or butter, then put them back into the tandoor for another 5 minutes.

Take them out, they're done.

I served these Tikka upon rice with saffron and golden raisins, almonds and cinnamon.

The garnish was served alongside to be brushed on the chicken before eating.

The chicken was tender and flavorful and the garnish added more of the marinade flavor which made the short marinade time work great! Serve this with any western green vegetable dish on the side, or go all Indian and try this spinach dish...

This chicken dish can be grilled on a BBQ, or even in your oven at home, but a tandoor sure makes it fun! Coming up next more Indian dishes for cautious post vaccine, open air,safe and sane intimate dinner parties as we more into a hopefully more or less plague free Summer.

 Follow along on Twitter at @kathygori

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