Tandoori Chicken with Saag

Tandoori Chicken is super difficult and requires special equipment right? Not this recipe.

Having a penchant for Indian food, and a large bunch of spinach in the fridge, the wheels began turning and next thing I knew… we had an Indian feast in store for us. I have made many a marinade during my cooking adventures and often times, they lack that extra oopf of flavor. So, when I whipped up this lovely marinade chalk full of warm spices, I only expected the flavor to live on the surface of the meat not deep in its fibers. Wow, was I ever wrong! By poking holes in the meat and rubbing the marinade into the chicken, the aromatic spices penetrated deep into the poultry. Combining onion, ginger, garlic and a serrano pepper in a food processor, a thick paste formed providing a nice base for the spice mixture (paprika, cumin, turmeric, coriander, garam masala and cayenne). Thickened by greek yogurt and a splash of citrus juice, this marinade packs a full punch!  Tender, juicy and incredibly tasty, this tandoori will impress all your friends at upcoming summer BBQs.

In my opinion, chicken needs a friend on the plate… something that can be scooped up on the same fork for layers of flavor. Saag seemed like the obvious sidekick. This was not our first rodeo show when it came to saag, but it was by far the winning dish. Simple, spicy and texturally pleasing, this Indian classic added vibrancy to the plate in both flavor and color. If you like spinach (and you should because it’s awesome), then you will love the creaminess of this dish. Serve with rice and naan or just toss it on a plate and chow down!

Grilled Tandoori Chicken

8 boneless-skinless chicken thighs
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup chopped white onion
2 tablespoons chopped garlic
2 tablespoons chopped ginger
1 teaspoon finely chopped serrano or jalapeno pepper, stem and seeds removed
1 tablespoon paprika
11/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon garam masala
1/2 teaspoon cayenne
1/2 cup plain yogurt
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

With a fork, prick holes in the chicken pieces. Using a knife, cut diagonal slices 1-inch apart, and 1/2-inch deep into the larger pieces. Place the chicken in a baking dish.

In a blender, combine the oil, onion, garlic, ginger, pepper, and process on high speed to a paste. Add the paprika, salt, cumin, turmeric, coriander, garam masala, and cayenne, and process until well blended. Add the yogurt and lemon juice, and process to a smooth sauce, scraping down the sides to combine all the ingredients. Pour the marinade over the chicken. Turn to coat evenly, rubbing the marinade into the holes and slits. Cover tightly with plastic wrap, refrigerate for at least 4 hours, and up to 24 hours, turning occasionally.

Preheat a grill.

Remove the chicken from the marinade. Place on the grill and cook for 8 to 10 minutes on the first side. Turn, baste as needed, and cook on the second side for 5 to 10 minutes. Turn and continue cooking, as necessary until the chicken is cooked through, but still tender, about 20 to 25 minutes. (Alternately, bake in a preheated 425 degrees F oven on a baking sheet for 35 minutes.)

Saag

8 oz fresh spinach, washed but not dried (frozen will work)
1 inch piece ginger root, grated
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 green chili, chopped (jalepeno works well)
about 1 cup water
1 teaspoon olive oil
2 bay leaves
1/4 teaspoon black peppercorns
1 onion, finely chopped
1 tomatoes, skinned and finely chopped
2 teaspoons curry powder
1 teaspoon salt or to taste
1 teaspoon chili powder
3 tablespoons plain greek yogurt

Cook spinach in covered saucepan on medium heat for about 5 minutes using water clinging to leaves. Place the cooked spinach, ginger, garlic and chili with about 1/4 cup water into food processor or blender. Blend spinach mixture to a thick puree and set aside.

Heat oil in large heavy-based saucepan. Add bay leaves and black peppercorns, fry for 2 minutes over medium high heat. Add onion and saute for about 6-8 minutes or until browned. Add tomatoes and simmer for about 5 minutes. Stir in curry powder, salt, and chili powder and cook for about 2 minutes. Add the spinach puree and about 2/3 cup water, simmer the mixture for about 5 minutes.

Reduce heat to a very low simmer and add the yogurt, 1 tablespoon at a time, stirring after each addition.

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