mohabhoj


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Tandoori Chicken: For the butcher

A couple of months back I was buying two pounds of whole chicken legs at the local Whole Foods market when the butcher, donning a soiled apron, asked me what I was planning to make. Tandoori chicken, I said. The words had piqued his interest; I could tell from his glistening eyes and arching eyebrows. When he was not butchering animals, he was recreating recipes — he is a chef — he explained. His daughter shares his culinary passion, he said with a contented smile. He then queried about the tandoori recipe.

I explained how I would prepare an aromatic marinade — with a blend of ginger-garlic-onion-green chilies-cilantro-mint-yogurt-tandoori masala-salt & pepper-lemon juice-oil and a sprinkling of home-made garam masala — and let the chicken pieces steep in it, overnight. And my secret ingredient was the addition of a couple of teaspoons of Cajun spice to the blend, which imparts a smokey flavor to the dish! The next day I would bake it in the oven, then broil it for a few minutes to give the chicken the very coveted out-of-the-tandoor look.

He said it sounded wonderful and asked me if I would mind writing it down for him. So I did; I handed him over the recipe the next time I went grocery shopping. He was delighted and as a token of his appreciation didn’t charge me for the meat I was buying.

“No way,” I said.

“I am the boss here; it won’t be a problem,” he insisted.

“In that case I will have to leave without the meat,” I said.

I had successfully butchered the argument!

He looked forward to trying out my tandoori chicken recipe with his daughter, he said. I wished him all the luck.

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Tandoori Night

Our weekends have become synonymous with eating out and I revel in the weekend breaks I get from cooking. It’s this little trick that helps me enthusiastically partake in my culinary adventures during the remaining five days of the week.

But there was something different about this weekend. There was no take out, delivery or dining out!!

Why? Even I asked myself the same question but it’s all quiet on the answer front.

So, to commemorate the occasion I decided to dish out something tantalizing for the last meal of the day before the mundane Monday kicked in. And I was struck by the idea of a tandoori night.

The tandoor part of the tandoori chicken would be taken care of by my oven. But I would have to take care of the bird part. A quick trip to the grocery store and my kitchen welcomed some new visitors–a whole chicken and some seasonal vegetables.

Now these visitors had to be looked after real good. The pampering started with marinating the chicken, rubbing it all over with tandoori masala, adobo seasoning, butter and salt. I couldn’t help but envy the chicken for enjoying a nice spa treatment. Out of spite I shoved in halved lemons and garlic heads in the chicken’s cavity! And the prepped up bird was perched on the makeshift roasting pan-the baking tray, to hit the sauna for an hour and half.

Out from the ‘tandoor’ the chicken was greeted by rice pilaf—cooked rice mixed with vegetables sautéed in a GENEROUS dollop of butter.

We sat down for dinner and enjoyed a scrumptious meal….well a picture speaks a thousand words!