March 19, 2008
Chicken Malai Tikka
Some more soups were left to blog but I have no photos for them so decided to post them later. Meanwhile my family craved something spicy and meaty and so here it is...Chicken malai tikka.I am sure my readers in the metros in India have their favorite tikka/kebab corner, which they frequent regularly and hence wonder why we bother making this at home.
If I could access Nizamuddin, Karims, Delhi Durbar or Bade Miyan here, I would choose to just sit back and eat. But the food in the Desi restaurants here look reasonably desi, smell good but the food is a watered down version of the real thing. All color and no flavor. So when we meet up, my friends and I take turns making the grilled tikkas as appetizers and each of us have a wonderfully unique recipe.
And on a week night, this is good for dinner....A green salad, some tortillas or pita and a tzatziki sauce or yogurt sauce, all wrapped up makes for a sumptuous meal.
This is one of the typical marinade for chicken kebabs or tikkas or whatever you want to call them. The names have been used interchangeably by everyone for small bites of chicken marinated in a yogurt based spice mix and grilled.The literal meaning of tikka is "pieces of chicken" and the word Kebab or Kabob is generally used for minced meat or cubes of meat on a skewer, usually marinated before cooking. The malai in the name comes from the addition of yogurt, sour cream or cream(malai) in the marinade and even butter to baste it. It adds a creaminess to the chicken's texture and makes it soft. Traditionally made in the clay oven, tandoor, the tikka is cooked surrounded by the high heat for a short time. It imbibes the smoky flavor and cooks fast, leaving it crusty outside and juicy inside.
In the summer I grill it on the backyard gas grill but all through winter, its done in the broil setting in my cooking range. (It does run up my gas bill though!!)
Since my version uses just a whole chicken cut up into small pieces, some with bone in it, I call it tikka. Kind of a smaller version of tandoori chicken. You could make it with boneless cubes too for ease of eating but the flavor is entirely different.. So its your choice, really. The boneless version is good for making chicken tikka masala, a very popular creamy chicken curry.
I have tried many recipes for the malai tikka, some with cream and some with sour cream or yogurt but this combination is what I end up using week after week. The others are really good too and when you do have sour cream or leftover cream at home, its great to use them but who wants to inject fat unnecessarily? So I stick to yogurt which is thickened and that gives it a rich flavor without too much fat. To make thick yogurt, hang the required amount of yogurt in a clean tea towel and place in a large strainer over a bowl. Leave it for as long as you need. After about a hour or more, the whey would have drained out leaving behind thick yogurt. You could also buy Greek yogurt instead and use that.
You will need:
A whole chicken cut up into small pieces. Use a 2 to 3 pound size one.
For the Marinade
Thick Yogurt-1 cup
Juice of 1 whole lemon
Ginger paste-2 teaspoon
Garlic paste- 2 teaspoon
Red Chili Powder- 1 and half teaspoon(Use less if you want it less spicy)
Coriander Powder-1/2 teaspoon
Cumin Powder- 1 teaspoon
Garam Masala- 2 teaspoon
Cilantro - 1/2 cup finely minced.
Salt to taste
Olive Oil( traditionally butter is used, so u can use either.)-3 Tablespoons
Blend all the marinade ingredients in a blender . Marinate the chicken for at least 2 hours or over night in the refrigerator. Skewer the chicken on either wooden or metal skewers. I usually make it without skewering out of laziness and it tastes just as good. To keep bamboo or wooden skewers from burning, soak for several hours in water before using.
Outdoor: Clean the grill grating and oil with a cloth. Preheat to the maximum heat and grill for 15 minutes, trying not to keep turning them over all the time. Just turn once midway and baste with oil.
Indoor: Preheat the broiler or set the oven to the highest setting say 500 F. Place a grill grating on top of an aluminum foil lined tray. Brush with oil and spread the chicken on the grate. Grill for 7-10 minutes on one side and then turn them over.Total maybe 15 to 20 minutes. Baste with butter or oil in between if it looks too dry. The timings may vary based on your oven's heating and type so use your judgment. If the quantity of chicken is less, it will take less time. When they are done, the pieces would not stick to the grate and only a clear juice will run out.
Garnish with onions, cilantro and lemon wedges..enjoy! Serve hot with Mint Chutney.
Related Links:Mandira's Chicken Malai Kabab