Tikka & Chappli Chicken Thighs with Garlic Naan
I am an obsessive fan of Indian and Middle Eastern spices. The aromas they give off, toasted or not, cooking or not, are insanely wonderful! People are oftentimes afraid to cook with the myriad spices used to make spice blends, such as Garam Masala an Chappli and Tikka, because they do not know what taste to associate the aroma with. Is it hot? Is it flavorful, or flavorful and hot? Until you try the food at an Indian or Pakistani restaurant, or another middle eastern restaurant, you might not ever know. With that, however, people are increasingly more knowledgeable about Turmeric, smoked paprika, cumin, coriander, oregano, thyme, cloves, anise and more. Are you saying: "Oooohhhhhh, Those are in Garam Masala and Tikka and Chappli?" So are ginger, chiles, cardamom, cinnamon and fenugreek leaves. Fenugreek has a kind of sweet, almost maple syrup, aroma.
*Just an FYI: Chappli spice has a degree of heat!
You can find many of the above spices in your own grocery store in the spices aisle. Garam Masala is one of those where it rather depends; I purchase a bag full of the spices and leaves already measured out to grind up in my processor and store for a good six weeks. Please note: different sources may vary on how long you can store your Garam Masala and other spice mixes. Some are two or three weeks, some are up to three months.
Rather than grind my own Chappli and Tikka spices, I buy them professionally packaged from my local Pakistani store. They can be purchased as ground spices, packaged, or, you can purchase them as sauces, also professionally bottled.
Regardless, I love them and use them in many of my dishes. Do not be afraid to experiment! As you have seen, many of the spices are spices you already have individually in your own spice cabinets!
Now, to my simplest pantry meal EVER. This meal is for the night when you are tired, your frig and pantry and freezer are a bit on the empty side but you have mouths to feed. Have a package of chicken thighs, whether or not they're boneless skinless? Have a can of tomatoes (peeled, stewed, diced)? Have a package of spices I have mentioned above, and you have a meal in the making! Let's go with what I had on hand.
1 package chicken (thighs or breasts)
3 tablespoons Grape Seed oil
2 rounded tablespoons Chappli spice mix
2 rounded tablespoons Tikka spice mix
1 16.8-ounce can of sliced tomatoes
2 tablespoons Mirin
1/2 onion, coarsely chopped*
2 cloves garlic, grated or finely chopped
I purchased Garlic Naan at the local grocer.
Preheat the oven to 350-degrees.
On a cutting board for meats, remove the chicken thighs and add the spice mixture to both sides of the chicken thighs.
In a large, high-sided skillet over medium-high heat, add three tablespoons -- three rounds around the skillet -- of grape seed oil. When the oil begins to ripple, reduce the heat to medium and place the chicken open side down (if boneless/skinless) and sear for three minutes. The chicken may be ready to turn at that time in the oil. IF not, let it sear a couple of more minutes. Do not force the turn of the chicken. Once the thighs have been turned, add the onion, garlic and tomatoes. Stir to incorporate and snuggle the in the chicken.
*As I expressed earlier, this was a true pantry meal. I did not have fresh onion and garlic at that time, so I used dried onion and garlic powder and added those to the Chappli and Tikka spice mixes in a bowl and whisked them together thoroughly.
If I had fresh onion and garlic on hand for this dish, it would appear much differently than above. I would also add fresh cilantro to the skillet. But, I did not, making it a pantry meal. That makes this a very flexible dish, with great potential.
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Finally, add the Mirin and stir that in as best as possible. Place the skillet into the oven and roast for twenty minutes. You may use a thermometer to check if the chicken is ready, or, if the chicken oozes clear fluids, it is done. Trusting your nose and your eyes is best. Like your hands, they are among your best kitchen tools.
I let the chicken rest a few minutes prior to serving. The aroma was just soothing and stimulating all at the same time. Delightful, overall.
I served the chicken and tomatoes with garlic naan, which was a perfect decision, and grated parmesan to catch pieces of chicken and mop up the incredibly flavorful juices.
Next time I make this, and I will, I promise to have fresh ingredients, but for now, this is what a pantry meal is all about: simplicity and flavor, satisfying.
This dish serves up to three people easily, or four fairly light eaters.
As Always, I am grateful for your time and consideration! Please try something new like this, and enjoy an adventurous meal with new and delightful spices. Now, Go Cook for Someone You Love!