Last night I knew we were going to have something with chicken for dinner, but I was in a dither about how to cook it. My husband suggested to make something Indian, since we had not had Indian food in awhile. That was the perfect idea. We love Indian foods and eat them quite often. I decided to make green chicken kebabs, or Hariyali Tikka, as it is known in India. This is a dish that hails from the Punjab region of Northern India, but is also popular in Bangladesh and Pakistan as well. Hariyali means green and tikka means small pieces of meats, proteins or vegetables marinated in a spice mixture that are usually cooked on skewers. The green comes from the green spinach, green herbs and vegetables used to make the sauce. Mint and spinach are the key ingredients for this dish. Both mint and spinach are very healthy and loaded with nutrients. There are many health benefits attributed to having both spinach and mint in your diet.
Traditionally, the tikkas are cooked in the tandoor, which is a clay oven, where temperatures can reach up to 900* F or 480* C. Tandoori is a style of cooking rather than a specific recipe. In tandoori cooking, large pieces of proteins are lowered into the tandoor oven to cook. A tandoor oven maintains a very high temperature and uses very little fuel in the process. It is similar to the pizza ovens used all throughout the Mediterranean.
Hariyali Tikka (Green Chicken Kebabs)
1-2 lb chicken breast, cubed
5 oz fresh spinach, stems removed
1 oz fresh mint, or 1 TBSP dried mint
2 oz fresh cilantro or coriander, stems removed
1 jalapeno, seeds removed
7 oz mayonnaise or yogurt
1 TBSP lemon juice (if using mayonnaise)
1 TBSP garlic
1 tsp garam masala
1 TBSP green chili chutney
salt to taste
I did not have any yogurt this time around, but I did have mayonnaise. Yogurt is more acidic than mayonnaise and the acidity is what breaks down the proteins, making them more tender. So I used mayonnaise and mixed lemon juice into it to make it more acidic. The taste is pretty similar. The chicken was very tender.
Put all the ingredients, except the chicken, into a food processor and mix thoroughly until you are left with a creamy sauce.
Once the sauce is complete, mix it with the chicken cubes, completely covering all the pieces. Let the chicken marinate for at least 3 hours, then put it on skewers. Cook the chicken skewers on the grill and cook them (unless you are lucky enough to own a tandoor oven) until they are fully cooked.
I served the hariyali tikka on top of red lentils mixed with white rice, some roasted curried vegetables and naan bread. I also served it with a sweeter white wine blend to help cut down the spiciness of the food. The Friday’s Folly white wine is from one of our local wineries, Bookcliff Vineyards, located in Boulder. You can learn more about Bookcliff Vineyards by checking out their website at http://www.bookcliffvineyards.com. This meal is definitely a “do-over” as we call foods we like and want to remember for next time; and yes, there will definitely be a next time.