Monday, April 30, 2012

Chicken Tikka with Pita Bread

With summer here, we are firing up the grill a lot more, as you probably are. Some of our favorite things for the grill are steak, potatos, pizza, and more conventionally, kabobs. These kabobs are Indian style, and undoubtedly one of our favorites. I have no idea why I haven't posted on them sooner. They were the first meal that Billy practically demanded for me to return to again and again. I usually make homemade pita to go along with them, and serve them with Mediterranean style olives, lettuce, lemon wedges, cilantro, and a homemade tzatziki sauce. 

I hope your family enjoys this meal as much as we do, here's a toast to a happy summer around the grill! 

Chicken Tikka (Indian Style Kabobs)
Serves: 4 Time: 1 hour (with up to overnight for marinating time)
Cook's Note: This is a great gluten-free and soy-free meal, sans pita pockets, serve over rice instead.
Adapted from Simply Chicken by Susan Meadows
Kitchen Tested
Gluten-Free Option
Ingredients:
Marinade:
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp coriander
1/2 tsp ground turmeric
4 tbsp lemon juice
2/3 cup plain yogurt
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 inch gingerroot, peeled and finely minced
4 Chicken breasts, cubed, preferably organic

Tzatziki Sauce:
2/3 cups plain yogurt
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp mint sauce

How To:
1) In a large glass bowl, stir together all ingredients for the marinade until well combined. Add chicken pieces and coat thoroughly. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and place in fridge to marinate for an hour, or up to overnight.

2) When you are ready to grill, heat grill to medium high heat. Make sure the grates are completely clean. If you are using bamboo or wooden skewers for the kabobs, soak them in water for an hour to prevent them from burning too much on the grill.

3) For Tzatziki sauce, combine yogurt, lemon juice, and mint sauce. Chill until ready to use.

4) Thread the chicken on to skewers, slightly spacing them out to obtain a more even grill. Place on the grill at a diagonal. Keep lid closed in between turnings. About six minutes later, turn the kabobs. I use a metal spatula to loosen them gently from the grates at first, and then use tongs for every use after that. Turn about 4 times during cooking, or until the inside of the chicken is no longer pink.

Oven option: Heat oven to 375ºF. Line a baking sheet with foil. Line up the kabobs across the baking sheet. Cook for 15 -20 minutes, turning once through baking. Turn on the low broil setting. Lightly crisp up the kabobs for 5 minutes, turn skewers. Cook for another 5 minutes.

Serving options:
Serve with warm pita, Mediterranean style olives, lettuce, lemon wedges, cilantro, and a homemade tzatziki sauce.

If you so desire to make homemade pita bread, here is the recipe I use and love.

Pita Bread
Adapted from Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day
Serves: 6 Time: 2 hours (including rise time)


Ingredients:
1 3/4 cups lukewarm filtered water
3/4 Tbsp yeast
3/4 Tbsp kosher salt
2 1/4 cups unbleached white flour (King Arthur Flour)
1 cup white whole wheat (King Arthur Flour)
-
1 tbsp Toasted Cumin Seeds, optional

How To:
1) Mix all ingredients, add the flour last. I don't use a mixer to cut down on clean-up, and however your dough is feeling, use wet hands to mix in the rest of the flour, or if too wet use a bit of flour to de-stick yourself.

2) Cover lightly (I use plastic wrap and a towel on top of that) and let it rise for about 1 hour, or if you have longer, up to 2 hours. (You can always allow your risen dough to rest in the fridge, for up to one week or until you are ready to use it. A wonderful tip I learned from this recipe book.)

3) Heat oven to 400 ºF. Prepare a baking sheet with parchment paper, or use a pizza stone. Set in the oven as it is heating, for slow acclimation.  

4) For the pita. Prepare a cutting board/ clean surface with a small amount of flour. 

5) From your pre-made dough, take about a plum size portion and make it as orbital as you can in your hands.* (I make tiny pitas because that is what I've had success with, the larger they are the harder it is to get a consistent thickness, which is necessary for them to puff up.) Slightly press it down on the board and the key is to try to keep it as circular as you can. Use a rolling pin and a continuous rotation, flatten the ball of dough as evenly as possible. Do not press your fingers into the dough because it will not puff if you don't have a consistent flat piece of dough. Try to keep the top and bottom of the dough free from sticking by using flour throughout this process.

*Variation: Toasted cumin seeds are a lovely addition. Heat pan over medium heat, no oil necessary. Add 1 tbsp whole cumin seed to heated pan. Shake and toss until seeds are evenly browned and fragrant. Immediately transfer to bowl to stop cooking. To use: When you form the balls of dough, roll into cumin seeds and incorporate them as you roll out the pitas.

6) Place the pitas on the baking sheets or the pizza stone. Cook the first side for about 8-10 minutes (or until puffed and/or slightly browned). Turn. Cook on other side for about 3 minutes. Remove from oven and keep cooked pita in a bowl lined with a towel to keep them warm as you go. Note- The puffed pita will deflate once it rests at room temperature. The puffing of the dough is what causes the pocket of the pita.

7) Cut pitas in half before serving, and some you may have to pry open a little bit to get a pocket.

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