Thursday, October 14, 2010

Grilled Chicken Tikka & Paneer Tikka

Just thinking about Chicken Tikka makes my mouth water. One of India's most popular dishes, it originated in the Punjab region of India and Pakistan, and is traditionally made with small pieces of chicken — tikka — which are marinated in spices and yoghurt, then baked in a clay tandoor oven. Paneer Tikka is another favourite of mine. Paneer is a non-melting curd cheese, so when grilled on a skewer, it holds it's shape and being mild, takes on the flavour of the marinade. I use the same marinade recipe for the paneer as the chicken, so it's an easy trick to extend the menu of your next Indian feast.

Chicken Tikka

1 lb chicken thighs, skinless (deboning optional)
1 tbsp fresh ginger, grated
1 tbsp fresh garlic, minced
1/2 tsp cardamom powder
1 tbsp chili powder
2 tbsp lemon juice
1-1/2 cup yoghurt
1 tbsp oil
1/2 tsp garam masala powder
1 tbsp gram flour (chickpea flour)
1 tsp turmeric powder
2 tsp salt
3 tbsp melted ghee

Cut boneless chicken thighs into 2" pieces for skewers, or leave whole with bone in for larger serving portions; pat dry. In a large bowl, combine yoghurt, ginger, garlic, cardamom, chili powder, garam masala, oil, gram flour, lemon juice and salt and mix well to form a thick consistency. Add the chicken pieces to the mixture to marinate. Cover and refrigerate overnight, or for at least 4-5 hours.

Grill method:
If using skewers, put 4-5 small pieces of chicken on each one, or use bone-in thighs. Place chicken on a pre-heated grill and cook 8-10 minutes. Turn them over and baste with ghee, cooking an additional 8-10 minutes until evenly cooked with nice grill/char markings. Serve with lemon and lime wedges.

Oven Method:
Pre-heat oven to 400°. Place chicken pieces (skewers or bone-in thighs) on a baking tray and cook 15 minutes. Turn the chicken pieces over and baste with ghee, cooking an additional 15 minutes, until chicken is nicely browned. Serve with lemon and lime wedges.

Paneer Tikka

1 400g block of paneer cheese
1 onion, cut and sliced into 1" pieces
1 red pepper, cut and sliced into 1" pieces
Tikka Marinade (see above)
3 tbsp melted ghee

Cut paneer into 1" cubes. Add the paneer and vegetables to the marinade mixture, cover and refrigerate for 3 hours.

Grill method:
Insert the pieces of paneer and vegetables onto skewers and place on a pre-heated grill and cook 10-15 minutes. Turn the skewers over, basting each time with ghee, until paneer and vegetables are evenly cooked with attractive grill/char markings.

Stovetop Method:
Heat oil in a non stick skillet and fry paneer until fully cooked and nicely browned on all sides, then fry vegetables until cooked through. Serve on a platter and garnish with lemon slices.