Sep 22, 2009

A magical re-creation of an oriental dish...the baking way :)

In my (very short) experience in the kitchen, I have come across two primary modes of making chicken--actually three maybe. Baking, Grilling and Cooking. Almost all the dishes from the eastern part of the world use the third form--cooking (either deep fry or lightly saute or something in the middle). The western half of the world uses the first two--baking and grilling. Now, I like all of them (even now as I write I miss a barbeque going on in campus--and I am sad).

Indian-chinese-Thai-Korean-- all of these cuisines focus on frying the spices in oil before adding the chicken/ beef/ pork etc. That is what gives the 'taste' to the meat. This is not possible with baking where you cook the spices/herbs with the meat.  Also, you will notice that oriental cuisine uses smaller pieces of meat as opposed to the western cuisines which uses bigger chunks. With the former, the taste permeates inside the meat, whereas with the latter it stays on the surface. Both have very different appeals.Very different techniques--very different science--very very different flavors.

However, I have felt, ever so often, that it is possible to combine the flavors of the eastern world with the health benefits and easy of cooking afforded by baking--without compromising on the 'orientalness' of the food. Now, I hate standing in the kitchen for long, and yet love oriental food without the grease factor. So I have come up with a solution. How?

Very simple:-Fry the spices in minimal oil and use that fragrant oil in the marinade for the chicken. Works like magic!

Here is one very authentic indian dish---not found for good reasons in the terrible Indian restaurants across this country.  Yoghurt chicken. Stay tuned :)


Chicken- 1 lb. You can use skinless, boneless. Any part of the chicken is good. I go with whole chicken without the skin but with bones. Make small pieces. Bite size or slightly bigger. The bigger your piece gets that less the marinade is going to penetrate the flesh. We don't want that now. Do we? Remember we are after an oriental flavor the baking way.

Good quality yoghurt-- 1 cup.
You can substitute with fresh tomatoes chopped up ( 1 cup) plus half a cup of milk--any variety is good.
5-6 big cloves of grated garlic
1 tsp of grated ginger
1-2 cloves,
2 cardamoms,
2 bay leaves,
A small bit of cinnamon. Go low on the cinnamon.
Cinnamon is not used in Indian food as an ingredient--only as a mildly flavoring agent along with clove and cardamom.
1 tsp of sugar
2 tbsf of regular oil
Salt to taste

How to go about it ?

Simple.  Place your chicken in an oven friendly tray. Next, heat the oil in a small skillet and when hot, add the clove, cardamom, cinnamon,bay leaves to it and leave for 30 secs or till the spices give off aroma. Do not burn the spices. Now (drumrolls please), pour this hot, flavored oil over the chicken!!! Ever heard of this trick?? This replaces the searing of the chicken in the oil-- in terms of the effect.
Now, wait for a couple of minutes. Remember the oil is hot. You don't want to burn yourself in the kitchen :). As you are waiting for the oil to cool down, mix the curd (or its substitute), garlic, ginger, sugar in a food processor. Now, pour the marinade over the oiled chicken and mix the take care to coat the chicken in the marinade very well. Season with salt. Leave for 10 minutes.
Meanwhile preheat your oven to 420F for 10 mins. Now your chicken is ready and so is the oven :) Place your the chicken and bake for 45 mins, turning once. If you care for a caramelized effect,you can broil the chicken (after it has baked through on high for 2 minutes. I do that :)

Serve with good quality Pita bread.

You have your baked oriental dish--- without the grease, without spending hours in the kitchen--but without compromising the quality of the dish :) whoever said that a spoonful of oil won't go far--it surely goes to the other end of the world! *

Pictures--forthcoming :)

Happy eating and healthy living!

Traditionally this is done by heating 5-6 tsp of oil--frying the spices, adding the chicken--frying a bit--then adding the yoghurt, garlic, ginger and sugar and cooking on low for ~ 30 minutes.


Chow and Chatter said...

sounds great look forward to the pics

Karine said...

Your recipe seems to be packed with flavors! Thanks for sharing :)

Gina said...

Hello, and thanks for visiting my blog! I hope you find it fun and interesting, and please let me know if there is anything you'd like me to post about :) Have a great day!

Natashya KitchenPuppies said...

I am a huge fan of spices and yogurt in savoury dishes, sounds like a winner!

Olive said...

Hello, Atreyee :)

This sounds like a really good dish, I can picture it in my mind. I'll give this a try ever since I had that dosa, been looking for a good Indian dish to try and this could be my next dish. Thanks for sharing the recipe!

Ashley said...

This sounds great! I love making restaurant meals at home :)