chicken tikka

the best indian food jim and i have ever had was at a restaurant in london, zaika it was only by chance that we chose the first  indian restaurant to ever be awarded a michelin star, and that's just because we passed it every day going to the tube from our little studio rental on kensington high street. we've never been to india, but i'm guessing the reason we liked chef sanjay dwivedi's food so much is because it is more authentic than any other indian food we have eaten before.
          i only have one indian cookbook, and a limited knowledge of this complex cuisine which uses scads of spices in vastly different combinations, depending on the region of india where the dish comes from. i love indian flavors, and can only wonder how interesting and unique the culture that imagined them must be. we have india on our list of places to go, if for any reason other than to eat the dishes in the places where they originated.
this recipe comes from my basic indian cookbook, best-ever curry by mridula baljekar. if you eliminate the chili powder it would be mellow enough for those who don't like a spicy dish. the overall flavor is bright and tangy because of the yogurt and lemon, and the ginger gives it an exotic little zing. it only takes a little forethought because it needs to marinate for hours, but it's easy to make, and goes to the table as a much more complicated dish than the effort required to make it.
serves 6
• 1 lb. chicken breast fillets, skinned & cut into 3-4 inch pieces
• 1 tsp. grated fresh ginger root
• 1 tsp crushed garlic
• 1 tsp chili powder
• 1/4 tsp ground turmeric
• 2/3 cup plain yogurt
• 4 tbbl lemon juice
• 1 tble chopped fresh cilantro
• 1-2 tble veg. oil
• salt & pepper
1. in a large bowl, mix the ginger, garlic, chili powder, turmeric, yogurt, salt, lemon juice and cilantro with a whisk.
2. put the chicken into the mixture and turn it to coat it well.
3. allow the chicken to marinate for 2-3 hours in a cool place or 24 hours in the refrigerator.
4. heat the oven to 400 degrees.
5. coat the bottom of a large stainless skillet with the oil, add the chicken and turn the pieces to coat them. sprinkle on some salt and pepper
6. cook the chicken in the top 1/3 of the oven for about 12-15 min.
7. turn on the broiler and allow the chicken to brown for about 3-5 min.
8. remove the pan from the oven and set the chicken onto a plate to rest.
9. add about 1/3 cup of water to the pan and whisk the sauce over med-hi until it is slightly reduced.
10. serve the chicken on a bed of basmati rice or cauliflower and potatoes spiced with cumin. spoon the reduction over the chicken, and serve.

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