Cook Book Challenge: Week 14

I'm not really a believer in New Years resolutions. But if I came close to having one, it was that I was definitely going to keep up to date with the Cook Book Challenge. Well, it's nearly the end of Feb and I'm yet to do it once.

I guess the reason there is that I basically haven't been home to cook. I've been so flat out that I pretty much skipped dinner in favour of sleep. My now my schedule is starting to slow down (i.e. working from home rather than doing 16 hour days on top of a 3 hour commute) so I've been able to return to cooking over the last week.

This coincided with my dad giving me yet another two books from the op-shop. Both these books had so many appetising recipes inside it really got the desire to cook returning.

One of these was The Australian Women's Weekly's "Easy Curry Cookery". Not that there is usually much difficulty in creating a curry, but perhaps the name is aimed at attracting those who've never experienced curry before.

Having said that, this dish is one of the more fiddly in the book. You do have to skin the chickens almost entirely. This can be time consuming if you've never done it before, but chicken skin is really easy to remove. If you've ever done a blunt dissection in a biology class, you'll find this process to be identical. The easiest way is to use scissors to cut through the skin along the breast bone: be sure to angle the scissors upwards so as not to pierce the muscle. Then it is as simple as peeling back the skin. You may find it helpful to use either your scissors of a small knife to clear away the fascia (the clear connective tissue between the skin and meat) as you go.

The one deviation I made from the recipe was to do this ahead of time and allow the chickens to marinate during the day. I find with tandoori especially, if you do not give it some time you lose a lot of the flavour.

This is the first time I've made tandoori chicken using a whole chicken, and we were really pleased with the results. Even my boyfriend, who hates anything with bones or fat and will usually only eat the breast meat of a chicken, enjoyed it all. He even ate one of the wings!


The coconut pilau was similarly yummy. As much as I like coconut, I usually dislike coconut rice. But this was lovely.

Tandoori Chicken with Coconut Pilau

Ingredients

Tandoori Chicken
2 x no. 9 chickens [meaning just under 1kg – the smallest I could find was 1.3kg and that worked fine. You wouldn't want to go much larger, though]
200g carton plain yogurt
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
1 tablespoon tandoori mix*
60g ghee, melted [if your local supermarket doesn't stock this, you can clarify the butter yourself]

*Tandoori Mix (this makes 1/4 of a cup)
1 1/2 tablespoon ground tumeric
3 teaspoons paprika
3 teaspoons garam masala
1 1/2 teaspoons grouns cardamom
1 teaspoon chilli powder
1/4 teaspoon saffron powder
              — combine all ingredients in a jar and shake until combined. This spice mix will keep for 2 months.
              — you can make leftovers into a paste for future recipes by adding just enough lemon juice (or water) to make a paste
              — you could substitute all this for a bought tandoori paste, but I find the result is much less flavoursome.

Coconut Pilau
60g ghee
2 medium onions, sliced
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 cinnamon stick
4 cardamom pods, bruised
3 whole cloves
1 teaspoon tumeric
1 cup basmati rice
400ml can coconut cream
1/2 cup water

Method

Tandoori Chicken
1. Using scissors, cut through skin of chickens along breastbone.
2. Using fingers (and scissors where necessary), gently ease all skin from chickens, except from wings. Remove and discard skin.
3. Cut a few slits, about 1cm deep, in chicken breasts and drumsticks
4. Combine yogurt, ginger and tandoori mix in a small bowl, mix well. Place chickens inside baking dish, brush inside and out with yogurt mixture.
5. Drizzle a little ghee over chickens, bake at 180C for 20 minutes, turn chickens, bake further 15 minutes. Turn chickens on one said, bake further 15 minutes. Turn chickens over and bake for a further 15 minutes or until chickens are well browned and tender. brush chickens with ghee occasionally during cooking.

Coconut Pilau
1. Melt ghee in large frying pan, add onions, stir over medium heat for about 4 minutes, or until onions are soft. Stir in seeds, cinnamon, cardamom, cloves and turmeric, stir over medium heat for 2 minutes
2. Stir in rice, stir over heat further minute. Stir in coconut cream and water, bring to boil. Pour mixture into greased, ovenproof dish (8 cup capacity). Cover, bake in moderate over for about 25 minutes, or until all the liquid is absorbed and rice is tender. Remove and discard cinnamon stick. Stir pilau with for before serving.
             — If your oven doesn't have enough space for this, this recipe works well on a stove top using the absorption method.

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