TANDOORI CHICKEN WITH SPICED BASMATI PILAF
Note: Adapted from "660 Curries," by Raghavan Iyer. While this version is fairly simple, adding toasted cashews and raisins to the rice would be both traditional and delicious. Although you should try to remove all the whole spices from the rice prior to serving, it's a good idea to alert your diners to not eat the cardamom pods if they should encounter any.
For the chicken:
• 1/3 c. plain yogurt
• 1 tbsp. minced ginger
• 1 tbsp. minced garlic
• 1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper (ground red pepper)
• 11/2 tsp. sweet paprika
• 2 tsp. salt, divided
• One 31/2 lb. chicken, skin removed and cut into 8 pieces
For the pilaf:
• 1 c. uncooked white basmati rice
• 11/2 tbsp. vegetable oil
• 1 tsp. cumin seeds
• 6 green or white cardamom pods
• 2 cinnamon sticks (3 inches each)
• 2 fresh or dried bay leaves
• 1 medium red onion, cut in half and thinly sliced lengthwise
• 1/4 tsp. saffron threads
Combine the yogurt, ginger, garlic, cayenne, paprika and 1 teaspoon salt in a large bowl, and whisk to blend. Add the chicken and toss to coat. Cover and refrigerate 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, place the rice in a bowl and rinse until the water runs fairly clear. Fill the bowl halfway with cold water and let the rice soak at room temperature for 30 minutes to soften the kernels.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees
Place chicken on baking sheet. Roast until cooked through, about 40 minutes. Transfer chicken to plate.
While the chicken is roasting, prepare the rice. Heat a 3-quart saucepan over medium-high heat; pour in the oil and swirl it around. It should appear to shimmer; if not, continue heating until it does. Add the cumin, cardamom, cinnamon and bay leaves, which will sputter and crackle and smell aromatic. After 20 to 30 seconds, add the onion and cook, stirring frequently, until onion turns golden brown, about 5 minutes.
Drain the rice thoroughly and add to the saucepan, then toss gently with the onion and spice mixture. Pour in 11/2 cups cold water and sprinkle on the remaining 1 teaspoon salt and saffron. Stir rice just once to incorporate.
Leaving the pot uncovered, bring the water to a boil over the same medium-high heat. After about 3 minutes, when much of the water has evaporated or been absorbed (if you move some of the rice with a fork, the water should look like it comes about halfway up the rice), stir the rice once more to bring the partially cooked layer from the bottom of the pan to the surface.
Cover the pan with a tight-fitting lid and turn down heat to lowest possible setting. Cook covered for another 10 minutes. Without removing the cover, turn off the heat and let the pan stand off the heat, undisturbed, for another 10 minutes.
Remove the lid and fluff the rice with a fork to let the steam escape. Remove the cinnamon sticks, cardamom pods and bay leaves.
Place the rice on a large platter and top with the chicken.
Nutrition information per serving:
Calories 333 Fat 9 g Sodium 886 mg
Carbohydrates 29 g Saturated fat 3 g Calcium 50 mg
Protein 33 g Cholesterol 96 mg Dietary fiber 1 g
Diabetic exchanges per serving: 2 bread/starch, 4 lean meat.