Friday, April 3, 2015

Green Tandoori Chicken | Murgh Hariyali

Final and most exciting post of Indian food week is this amazingly flavorful, spicy, fragrant, herby, green tandoori chicken. This chicken makes me want to sing and dance because eating it fills my stomach with joy. It's that delicious. And, this post would never have happened had it not been for our impeccable timing so I thank the fates and Jesus and Mother Gaia for allowing the stars to line up the way they did. The following events occurred several weeks ago:

We hadn't had takeout for weeks and we were growing a little bored of our usual weekday fare and I wasn't in the mood to cook. So, my sister and I decided to hit up our favorite Indian dinner buffet. As we were filling our trays, we discovered a chafing dish labeled "tandoori chicken" and opened it to find the usual orange chicken as well as some sort of green chicken. I'm rarely one to turn down trying something new so I added a few green pieces to my tray and from that moment, my world was changed. The green chicken was minty and cilantro-y and garlicky and spicy and amazingly delicious. The next weekend, I decided I had to make it for myself. After some google searching of the terms "green tandoori chicken," I discovered that there is a dish called "murgh hariyali" which translates to "greenery chicken" and figured that was what I was looking for.

I looked at a few recipes but the ingredients list included flavors that I didn't recognize in the buffet green chicken. So, I decided to follow my taste buds and just make my own. Unfortunately, the chicken didn't taste exactly like the buffet green chicken. However, it was pretty close and it was still frickin' delicious. Writing this post has caused my mouth to uncontrollably start producing saliva.
Ingredients [serves 4]:
2 lbs. chicken thighs (or breasts if you prefer)
¼ cup Greek yogurt
½ cup cilantro
¼ cup mint
1 teaspoon lime juice
1 serrano pepper
1 habanero pepper (optional)
4 cloves minced garlic
2 teaspoons grated ginger
2 teaspoons garam masala
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons oil
+ onion, sliced
+ bell pepper, sliced
+ broccoli florets

Start by chopping the stems off of a serrano pepper and a habanero pepper. Why two different spicy peppers? The serrano offers some "green taste" (bright freshness) while the habanero brings a lot of heat and a slight sweetness. If you can't take much heat, omit the habanero. If you can't take any heat, omit the habanero and substitute a mild green chili for the serrano.
Chuck the peppers, mint, cilantro, and a squeeze of lime juice into a food processor and whizz until it forms a paste. The lime juice adds just a little acidity but also offers the food processor a little liquid to work with, which will make the grinding process that much easier. If your food processor seems to be having some trouble, add in a little water to help it along.
In a large bowl - use something wide and shallow for ease of marinating the chicken later - mix together grated ginger, minced garlic (I used a garlic press to really pulverize the cloves), the green paste you just made, salt, garam masala, chili powder, oil, and yogurt.
Give it a good stir until it's all combined into a lovely, olive green mess. Give it a quick taste to make sure it's seasoned enough and add more salt if necessary.
Then, add in chicken, which has been cut roughly into small chunks, and mix it all around to coat each piece generously in marinade.
Cover with cling film and chuck in the fridge to chill and marinate for one hour. The chicken can also be marinated overnight, if you have the time.
An hour later, it was dark outside so I had to flip on the lights, hence the lighting change in the rest of the photos.
Grab some skewers and stab the chicken.
Lay some onion pieces and bell pepper onto a parchment-lined sheet pan and then place the chicken on top of the vegetables. And if it pleases you, you can chuck some broccoli florets onto the pan as well. Throw the pans into a high broiler for 10 to 12 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through and somewhat blackened. The broiler is an alternative to the high heat cooking environment of a tandoor. If you have a tandoor, then duh, use it. Most people I know don't have tandoors in their homes though, so the broiler will work fine.
Remove the chicken from the skewers and pile up the vegetables onto the plate.
Serve with some toasted cashew and golden raisin basmati rice, mint chutney, and onion chutney. A feast! The chicken is super tender (thanks to the yogurt and quick cooking time, which helps it retain moisture) and incredibly spicy and delicious. It's so good. I wish I had some right now.
Here's the recipe page:

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