After a few days of drenching rain,* we are back to our unusually hot temperatures in the mid eighties. Needless to say, if anything is getting cooked, it is being cooked outside on the grill! Our conversation, shortly after breakfast last Sunday, turned to what we would make for dinner. It went something like this:
Dave: “Have you thought about your dinner?”
Me: “No, have you”?
Dave: “No, not really”.
Me: “What about salmon”?
Dave: “We just had that. What about Chicken Parmesan”?
(We haven’t had salmon for weeks and Dave always wants chicken parmesan)
Me: “We just had spaghetti with Bolognese Sauce”.
Dave: What about hot dogs”?
(Dave frequently suggests hot dogs. I am happy with one or two a year, preferably at a baseball game with a very cold beer!)
And so it goes… This conversation is typical of most days when we are trying to figure out what to make for dinner.* My mom and I have said to each other, at least 100 hundred times, that coming up with what to cook, is harder than the actual cooking!
My current source of inspiration is the garden. I had lots of cucumbers and tomatoes ready to be eaten. That led me to tabouli (Lebanese) salad, which spring boarded me to tandoori (Indian) chicken and riata. The bonus of this international meal would be leftovers for lunch all week! A quick search on the internet for tandoori marinade led me to David Lebovitz Tandoori Chicken recipe. My version is below. Since it was late in the day, and since I had all the spices on hand in the “ground” version, I did not start with whole spices. Toasting and grinding whole spices would definitely intensify the flavor of the dish. We served the chicken with our version of raita, tabouli salad and grilled naan.
for the Tandoori Chicken
6 whole chicken legs (that means the thighs are attached)
1 cup whole milk Greek yogurt
1/4 t. saffron threads
1 T. boiling water
3/4 t. coarse salt
1 t. ground cumin
1 t. ground coriander
1 t. ground cinnamon
1/2 t. paprika
1 t. turmeric
1/2 t. garam masala
1 1/2 t. chili powder
1 t. fresh ground black pepper
juice of one fresh lime
1 tablespoon finely minced fresh ginger – about a 2 inch piece
4 cloves garlic, peeled and finely minced
Trim the excess fat from the chicken legs. Score the legs and thighs by making 3 deep angular cuts into the meat. (Most recipes call for skinless chicken. I did not remove the skin.) Place the chicken in a large zip lock bag. Soak the saffron threads in the boiling water for a minute. Place the yogurt in a small mixing bowl. Add the saffron and water, the spices, ginger, garlic and lime to the yogurt. Mix well. Pour the mixture over the chicken. Seal the bag and let marinate in the refrigerator a minimum of four hours, preferably overnight. Remove the chicken from the bag and place on a very hot grill. Cook until done, about 35-40 minutes, turning every 8-10 minutes.
Laura and Dave’s “Raita” Cucumber Cooler
This may not be traditional raita but it is our version and we love it.
2-3 cucumbers, peeled, sliced in half, seeded and chopped
1 small, sweet onion, peeled sliced into fourths and then sliced thinly
1 cup whole milk Greek yogurt
1 teaspoon of salt
paprika for garnish
Please the cucumbers and onions in a bowl. Add the salt and gently stir. Let stand for about 15 minutes. Drain the excess water. Gently stir in the yogurt. Garnish with paprika. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
for the Tabouli Salad
Since it was late in the day and I did not want to boil grains for 40 minutes in a hot kitchen, I used a tabouli salad mix. I added lots of fresh, chopped tomatoes, cucumbers and parsley from the garden. I also added extra olive oil and fresh lemon juice. I am anxious to make this salad with quinoa, a diversion from the traditional bulgur wheat.
*As always, I am grateful for the much-needed rain, a life with choices and plentiful food to eat.