This is one of my Indian staples. It doesn't take long to cook, but it needs to marinate for 2 hours before cooking, so I usually only make it on weekends. The sauce is easy because it's of the Throw Everything in the Blender variety and is not cooked. I like uncooked yogurt sauces because I can use nonfat yogurt and not worry about the separation that happens during cooking. Plus, it makes this dish pretty healthy. In my opinion, the step involving the melted butter can be omitted, I've done it before and it doesn't impact the taste significantly.
The marinade for this dish is a little spicy. Nothing that will kill you, but it has a nice kick to it. Sometimes I add extra cayenne if I want it to be spicier than normal. I used a grill pan instead of a real grill and it turned out fine. The sauce is mild and cooling even though it has a jalapeno in it. I made a full recipe of sauce even though I made a half recipe of meat. I like the sauce so much that I dump it on my leftover rice after I finish the chicken. The original recipe recommends serving with naan, but I have yet to try the premade naan they sell at Wegmans. Rice works fine, and using a rice cooker reduces the amount of active time for making this meal. I love my rice cooker so, so much.
I made a few changes to the recipe. I used boneless skinless chicken breasts instead of thighs. I used a mortar and pestle to grind the spices because I don't have a spice grinder and my old coffee grinder has so much gunk stuck to it that cleaning it without a power washer is impossible. I used a fresh bay leaf and chopped it very, very finely before adding to the other spices. I don't know know well that would work with a dried bay leaf, but since I recently killed my bay leaf tree (it was an accident!) I need to figure that out. Lastly, I used nonfat yogurt in both the marinade and the sauce with no ill effects.
Food & Wine suggests a pinot noir or a red Burgundy for this meal. I think it goes well with a dry Riesling. I like Riesling a lot, and don't have many dishes to pair with it. When I make extra spicy food I usually just don't drink wine (blasphemy!). The spicy kick to this chicken works well with a Riesling. Pinot and Burgundy definitely work, but if you like your marinade extra spicy or it's warm outside, try a Riesling.
Grilled Chicken Tikka with Cilantro-Mint Yogurt Sauce
Adapted from Food & Wine Magazine
Serves 2 (with extra sauce!)
1/2 Tbsp mustard seeds
1/2 tsp Chinese five spice powder
1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper (or to taste)
1 small bay leaf
1 Tbsp minced fresh ginger
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup plain nonfat yogurt
2 boneless skinless chicken breasts cut into largeish bite sized pieces.
1 Tbsp unsalted butte, melted.
2 cups cilantro leaves
1 cup mint leaves
1 jalapeno, seeded and coarsely chopped
4 garlic cloves, crushed (I just quartered them, they went in the blender anyway).
1 tsp ground cumin
1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 cup nonfat plain yogurt
1) Make the marinade. Using a spice grinder or a mortar and pestle and grind the mustard seeds into a coarse powder. (Definitely do the mustard seeds alone first if you're using a mortar and pestle). Then add the Chinese five spice powder, pepper, turmeric, cayenne, and bay leaf (pre-minced if using a mortar and pestle) and mix well. Transfer to a bowl and add ginger, garlic, salt, and yogurt. Mix well. Add chicken and make sure all pieces are well coated. Refrigerate for 2 hours.
2) Grill the chicken. Remove chicken pieces from the marinade and brush them with melted butter. Alternatively, just skip the butter step. Grill the chicken until cooked, about 8 minutes total.
3) While chicken is cooking, make the sauce. Put all sauce ingredients in a blender and blend until liquefied.
Serve the chicken over rice with the sauce in a small bowl.