My stepmom never made Indian food like this, but if she had, I sure would have eaten more of it growing up.
As it turns out, crafting Week 10, Meal 1: Chicken tandoori tacos with harissa yogurt felt like finding my roots, on my own terms.
I swooned over the fragrant spices — especially the vibrant, beautiful turmeric — and today I’m proud to sport yellow stains on my fingertips from working with an array of spices.
Better than the spices, though, was the harissa yogurt, a chili-lemon-spices mix that tied it all together.
Who would have known Indi-Mex would turn out so well?
The Recipe (Yield: 2 servings)
4 corn tortillas, heated
1/2 t ground ginger
1/2 t ground cumin
1/2 t ground coriander
1/2 t ground paprika
1/2 t ground turmeric
1/2 t salt
1/4 t cayenne pepper
4 boneless skinless chicken thighs, trimmed
Spiced rice (enough for more than 4 tacos, but its tough to cook less than 1/2 cup rice)
1/2 cup basmati rice
enough water for rice according to package directions
1 t vegetable oil
1/2 small red onion, small diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 t cumin seeds
1/2 t coriander seeds
1/2 t salt
1/2 cup frozen peas
Harissa Yogurt (adjust the chili paste you use to your spice level; the amount here makes it spiced, but not spicy)
2 t chili paste
1/4 t caraway seed
1/4 t coriander seed
1/4 t cumin seed
1/2 t dried mint
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 t salt
1/2 lemon, juiced
5 oz. non fat or low-fat Greek yogurt
1 Roma tomato, diced
1 T cilantro, chopped
1 small avocado, diced
We’ll start with the chicken, so you can put the spice rub on it and let it come closer to room temperature before cooking (as you should do with all meat).
Combine 1/2 t of ground coriander, 1/2 t of ground paprika, 1/2 of ground turmeric, 1/2 tsp of salt and 1/4 tsp of cayenne pepper.
Rub the mix into 4 boneless skinless chicken thighs and let it sit out while you prepare the rice.
First, I’m a jackass and didn’t read directions, so I added salt to the spice mix way before I should have. Don’t be a me and add the salt. Instead, follow directions and combine 1 t of cumin seeds and 1/2 t of coriander seeds.
Mince 1 clove of garlic and dice 1/2 of a small red onion.
In a medium sauce pot, heat 1 t of vegetable oil over medium-high heat. Add cumin and coriander seeds and toast for 30 seconds. They’ll quickly become fragrant, which is great, but don’t toast them so long they begin to burn.
Add red onion and garlic and saute for 1 min.
Add 1/2 cup of basmati rice, 1/2 cup of frozen peas and 1/2 t of salt. Toast rice for another 30 seconds.
Add enough water for the rice, according to the package directions. Bring to a boil, and then reduce to a simmer.
Cover the rice and cook for about 20 min., until all liquid is absorbed. Reserve.
Preheat your grill to high, while you prep the ingredients for the yogurt.
Again, I did not follow directions, and simply combined all spices with garlic, mint and salt. It’s not the end of the world, but you should first toast the spices — the garlic, mint and salt come later.
In a small pan, toast 1/4 t of caraway seed, 1/4 t of coriander seed and 1/4 t of cumin seed.
Grind the toasted seeds using a mortar and pestle.
In a blender, combine ground spices with 2 t of chili paste, 1/2 t of dried mint, 1 clove of minced garlic, 1/4 t of salt, the juice of 1/2 lemon and 5 oz. of non fat or low-fat Greek yogurt.
And with the magic of kitchen appliances, we have sauce!
Now that the grill is heated, toss those chicken thighs on. They’ll need to grill for about 5-8 min. per side. When they’re done, don’t cut them! Let them rest while you take care of the garnish.
For the garnish, dice 1 small avocado …
… dice 1 roma tomato …
… and chop 1 T of cilantro.
You can shred your chicken, but I chose to chop it into small pieces instead because the tomato and avocado were also diced. I figured the overall mouthfeel of the taco would be better this way, but either way is fine.
As my friend Chef Michael from the fantastic Coffee, Tea and Tulips said: “Whatever takes less time to your mouth.” That would be the dice. Shredding this stuff is a bitch.
Heat 2 corn tortillas per person, and lets get to building some tacos!
In each taco put 1/4 cup of spiced rice, then add 1 chopped chicken thigh. Top with a couple of spoons of harissa yogurt, then garnish with tomato, avocado and cilantro.
I actually used less in the tacos — 2 T of rice in each, a handful of diced chicken — and was perfectly stuffed after putting down two of these bad boys.
The spices in the chicken and the rice are similar, but each component has different tastes. The tart yogurt brings it all together in the most amazing way. If you love Indian food, or tacos, or both, this recipe is a must try.