Chicken Tikka with Pomegranate Couscous Salad
Not terribly Italian, I know, but this week isn’t about me, it is about my darling sister and she would go nuts for this dish.
I found the recipe for the chicken tikka in a Nigella Lawson article for the New York Times Dining section 7 years ago and have been making it ever since. It is so easy to make and the flavors sing in your mouth, especially accompanied by the couscous salad that I make with pomegranate, an idea that I got from one of my dearest friends.
I loved pomegranates before I even knew that they had special powers for my health. I remember my father would bring my sister and I a pomegranate about once or twice a year and we would savor those pomegranates for as long as possible (sometimes days) and eat every ruby-red seed as if it were a precious jewel. They were a magical fruit that seemed to come from some place that wasn’t of this world. I have been searching for different ways to use them in savory dishes, this couscous salad is the best that I have come up with so far, so I am open to any recipe recommendations.
Chicken Tikka by Nigella Lawson for the New York Times
Time: 35 minutes, plus at least 4 hours’ marinating
- 2 garlic cloves, peeled
- 1 2-inch piece of ginger, peeled and coarsely chopped
- 2 small red chilies
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon ground coriander
- 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
- 1/2 teaspoon garam masala (available in many supermarkets and specialty stores)
- Juice of 1 lime
- 1 cup plain yogurt
- 3 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon peanut oil
- 4 6- to 8-ounce boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 or 2 limes cut into thin wedges.
In a food processor or blender, combine garlic, ginger and chilies. Process until finely chopped. Add cumin, coriander, turmeric, garam masala, lime juice, yogurt and 3 tablespoons peanut oil. Process again to make a smooth paste.
Place yogurt mixture in a wide, shallow bowl. Add chicken pieces, turning them to coat them well. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate a minimum of four hours.
Allow chicken to come to room temperature before cooking. Remove chicken from marinade, scraping off excess. Place a large skillet over medium-low heat, and add butter and remaining teaspoon peanut oil. When butter has melted, add chicken. Sauté, turning once or twice, until chicken is golden brown on surface and white in center, 15 to 20 minutes. (Adjust heat as necessary so that yogurt does not burn.) Arrange chicken on a platter, and garnish with lime wedge.
Couscous Salad with Pomegranate
- 1 cup of couscous
- 1 1/4 cup of water
- 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tbsp butter
- seeds from 1 pomegranate
- 1 cucumber, cut into tiny quarters
- 3 cups of fresh spinach or mache (any salad green will work for this), torn or cut into small pieces
- 2 green onions, very thinly sliced or 1 shallot, cut into tiny pieces
- 1 cup fresh grapes (optional, I had grapes that needed to be eaten so I threw them in!)
- 3 tbsp chopped fresh mint
- salt to taste
Pour water and olive oil in a medium saucepan, bring to a boil. When the water is boiling remove from heat and add the couscous making sure that all of the couscous is covered by the water. Cover and set aside for 5 minutes. Add butter and fluff the couscous with a fork over a light flame. Let cool.
You can start adding certain ingredients to the couscous while it is still hot. I generally add the onions first to allow them to sweat a bit and release their flavor into the tiny grains. As you are mixing each ingredient in the couscous will cool more quickly. Add the rest of the ingredient and combine.
This can be made a few hours ahead of time and left covered out on the counter, you want to eat it at room temperature.