Chicken Tikka with Zesty Relish-Infused Rice & Cucumber Salad (serves 4)

I was getting a little weary of “winter-y” type food and so last night decided that our dinner had to remind me of the sunnier days ahead. I know it is only January but when I turned the page on the calendar I immediately started thinking about Spring and what I wanted to plant in my garden this year. Herbs came to mind and then I longed for something FRESH! Here is what I came up with!

chicken tikka with relish-infused rice and fresh cucumber salad - So darn good!

chicken tikka with relish-infused rice and fresh cucumber salad – So darn good!

Tikka is from Indian and Pakistan but when I think about Tikka I am reminded of the great popularity this type of dish has enjoyed in London and countrywide, resulting from the British Raj that began way back in the mid  1800’s. As conservative as the food is in England (up to lately anyway) unbeknownst to them, they were at the forefront of the trendy “fusion” movement, combining their foods with that of India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. The tikka refers to a type of cutlet and in general it means a piece of meat (chicken comes to mind), that is easily skewered on a kebab. But, tikka comes with the possibility of a great masala (this is the word for “curry” in India) or some sort of spicy fresh marinate that is bound together in a yogurt base. Yogurt (and sour cream) is a great partner of anything spicy because it cools everything down and gives nice balance to a dish. Chicken Tikka Masala is one of the most popular dishes in England.  A BBC statistic reports that at least 18 tonnes of chicken Tikka Masala is eaten across the country each week, served by Britain’s more than 15,000 Indian restaurants – now if only they could double that number and get rid of places like McDonald’s it might help their growing obesity crisis!

Limes make this relish pop with zestiness!

Limes make this relish pop with zestiness!

It was so refreshing to be zesting limes and chopping cilantro. I figured if I made the kebab, rice would be the obvious accompaniment. I decided to add lots of the relish to the rice to make it interesting and colorful and it was perfect for mixing into the diced cucumbers also. When I made this I realized all of the possibilities with the relish and cucumbers and how these little side dishes could be mixed in or served with so many other things besides the kebab. The kebab marinade is pretty standard and I know for sure there are many variations according to tradition and what you have available. Pretty much any spice mixed with the yogurt and lime juice would work so don’t limit yourself to my recipe.

fresh cilantro

Fresh Cilantro (called Coriander in Europe by the way)

I have a feeling that this recipe will prompt many more Tikka-inspired dishes in the near future, so watch out! Oh, and forgot to say that there wasn’t a scrap of food left on anyone’s plate after dinner – says it all right there!

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*This Recipe is Suitable for a Blood Type A Diet. The ingredients are either neutral (chicken, yoghurt) or beneficial (onions,garlic). You could make it “more” beneficial by using firm tofu with the same marinade and cooking method (less cooking time) and also substituting the cucumber and using finely chopped romaine lettuce instead. *also omit the hot pepper and cayenne pepper if you are very strict*

You will need:

4 chicken breasts –  sliced into 8 cubes per breast (more if a little bigger)
1 English cucumber – diced
1 cup plain yoghurt (or sour cream)
2 limes – juiced
Fresh ginger about 1 inch –  peeled and finely chopped (if you don’t have fresh ginger substitute with 1 tsp ground ginger)
2 cloves garlic – finely chopped
1 tsp. Garam masala (found in spice section of your supermarket)
1 tsp. Cayenne pepper powder or flakes
1 tsp. Turmeric
Salt to taste
For the Relish
1 large onion – roughly chopped
1/4 cup cilantro  – roughly chopped
4 scallions (green onions) – roughly chopped
1 jalapeno or hot chili pepper – roughly chopped
1/4 cup water
2 limes – juiced
1 tbsp. fine sugar
Salt to taste
Cooked Basmati Rice (stove top: 2 cups rice and cook according to package instructions OR Rice Cooker: 3 cups rice-cooker measure and cook according to the instructions of your rice-cooker).
*Skewers for the chicken*
The chicken is cooked on skewers and you can do one of two things: use metal skewers or use wooden skewers. If you use wooden skewers you will need to soak them in water for at least an hour before using. This stops them from burning up on the grill whether on the barbecue or under the grill in the oven.
Method:
Marinade:
Put all ingredients for marinade into a smal bowl

1 – Put all ingredients for marinade into a small bowl

Whisk together

2 – Whisk together and mix well with the cubed chicken and place in the fridge until ready to skewer (can be made up to 6 hours earlier)

Relish:

Whizz relish ingredients in a food processor

1 – Whiz relish ingredients in a food processor

Set aside until ready to mix into rice, and cucumber salad

2 – Set aside until ready to mix into rice, and cucumber salad

Rice:

toss cooked rice with 3/4 of the relish

1 – When rice is cooked add 3/4 of the relish and mix together.

Cucumber Salad:

Toss diced cucumber with 2 tbs of relish - taste for addition of salt

1 – Toss diced cucumber with 2 tbs of relish – taste for addition of salt. set aside (can be made ahead of time and stored in the fridge. Drain off any excess liquid before serving.

Chicken Tikka Kebabs:

skewer chicken and place on grill or under grill in the oven

1 – skewer chicken and place on grill or under hot grill in the oven

Grill chicken and remove from skewers (or leave on skewers for serving)

2 – Grill chicken and remove from skewers (or leave on skewers for serving). Chicken will cook in 4 to 6 minutes per side.

SERVE!

SERVE as above or as in the first picture (I added a little relish and sriracha sauce to some leftover yogurt and dolloped it onto the chicken)

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