Thursday, May 21, 2015

Tandoori Chicken and Coconut Rice - Dairy Free

Tandoori chicken is a dish that originates in India and Pakistan. It gets its name from the clay tandoor oven that is traditionally used to cook it. Meat - usually chicken - is marinated in yogurt and spices to give it flavor, and then baked. I tried it for the first time when our family ate at Sanaa, an Indian-themed restaurant at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge. I was a bit nervous at first, but when I realized it was basically spicy roasted chicken, I ordered it. It quickly became my favorite dish of the trip, putting it on my “try this at home” list.

Unlike most marinades, the yogurt mixture is not wiped off the meat after its marinade, but left clinging to the meat to help give it a flavorful crust. Tandoori chicken can be extremely hot and spicy (often its red color comes from cayenne or other pepper used in the marinade), but while this recipe does call for a mountain of spices, it does not taste like edible lava. There is only a small amount of cayenne pepper, which is spread among a fair bit of chicken, making it mild enough for less adventurous palates. Feel free to add more heat if you prefer spicier foods, either more cayenne powder, or even adding a hot pepper to the aromatics in the blender. A shot or two of sriracha, an Asian hot chile pepper sauce, will seriously ramp up the heat as well. (You might want to put that on the table, rather than the marinade. THAT stuff is edible lava.) The recipe looks like a lot of effort, but trust me -- it’s just a lot of baby steps that mature into a great dish.

Oh - and watch it with the turmeric. It stains.

Chicken Tandoori with Coconut Rice

Serves 6-8

Chicken & Marinade:

4 pounds chicken thighs (about 10 thighs), skin removed
2 small onions
8 garlic cloves
1 cup coconut yogurt
¼ c. freshly squeezed lemon juice (about 2 lemons)
3 Tbsp cumin
3 Tbsp garam masala
2 Tbsp coriander
2 Tbsp ginger
1 Tbsp cayenne pepper
1 Tbsp turmeric
1 Tbsp salt
1 Tbsp black pepper
3 Tbsp olive oil

Coconut Rice

1 small onion, finely minced
4-6 garlic cloves
1 Tbsp salt
3 cups Basmati rice
1 quart chicken stock
1 - 13 oz can Coconut milk

Fresh pineapple, diced, for garnish (optional)

Directions for the chicken:

  1. On each thigh, remove and discard the outer skin. Place the skinned thighs in a large mixing bowl. 
  2. Peel onion and cut in half. Remove skin from garlic. Place into a blender and pulse until coarsely chopped. 
  3. Add yogurt, lemon juice, and spices to the blender. Puree until smooth.
  4. Add olive oil to marinade and blend until mixed in, scraping down the sides of the blender as necessary. 
  5. Pour the marinade over the chicken, and toss to coat. as much of the chicken possible. You can do this with tongs or a spoon, but honestly -- the easiest way is to just use your hands. 
  6. Cover with plastic wrap, then allow the chicken to marinate for 1 hour. (Store it in the fridge! You can let the chicken sit for up to 4 hours, but more than that and it will get mushy from the acid in the marinade.) 
  7. While the chicken marinades, begin to prepare the rice. (see below for directions) 
  8.  Preheat your oven to 375ºF and line two baking pans with aluminum foil. Divide the chicken among the two trays, leaving the marinade on it. 
  9. Bake chicken for 35 minutes or until it reaches an internal temperature of 165°F.

 Directions for the Rice: 

  1. About an hour before you're ready to cook the chicken, preheat a 3-4 quart saucepan over medium heat, and mince the garlic and onion. 
  2.  Add about 2 tbsp of olive oil to the pan, and heat until it shimmers. Add your onion and 1 tbsp of salt, and sauté until the onion begins to caramelize. Once the onion has started to caramelize, add your garlic and saute until the garlic is fragrant. 
  3. Remove from heat and cover the aromatics with a lid. Let it rest, covered, until the chicken is ready for the oven.
  4.  When you place the chicken in the oven, return pot to heat. Allow it to reheat until vegetables are sizzling. 
  5. Add 1 tbsp olive oil, and stir. Add rice. Stir to coat with oil/aromatics, and saute until rice starts to toast.
  6.  Pour in 1 quart (8 cups) chicken broth. Stir and bring to a boil, allowing rice to soak up most of the broth. 
  7. Shake the can of coconut milk vigorously to combine coconut cream and coconut. Add to rice and turn heat to low (liquid should barely simmer). 
  8. Cover and allow rice to cook for about 25 minutes. Stir once or twice during cooking so the rice doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pot. 

 To serve, lay chicken over a bed of rice, and garnish with chopped fresh pineapple.

Dairy free Gluten free tandoori chicken and coconut rice

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