“What am I in charge of mama?”
“You and your sister can go set the table”
I frown. Setting the table was the most boring task, and was nowhere near the excitement of the kitchen. I knew it was the adults’ way of getting rid of the kids and shooing them off.
“But that’s boring! I want to help you INSIDE the kitchen!”
My mama chuckles. She knows I do.
“Ok how about slicing the chicken? Can you handle that?”
My eyes light up! A real job! And with KNIVES! I grab one of the squeaky (and highly worn down and unstable) chairs around the kitchen table, climb onto it so that I’m on my knees and get straight to work. I feel all important, part of the serious cooking process, and I am bursting with pride. I don’t think there was ever a more enthusiastically sliced chicken.
This was a regular occurrence in our home. Both my parents loved to cook, and loved to get us involved. My mother would always encourage us, and was thrilled that my younger sister and I showed such eagerness (especially after she failed ever so miserably in sparking even the slightest interest towards cooking in my older sister, who was the girly-girl of the house, and would much rather be painting her nails or chatting with her girlfriends on the phone than being anywhere near the kitchen).
I, on the other hand, found that buzz that filled the house before a dinner party absolutely irresistible, and I wanted to be a part of everything I could possibly get my hands on. We did have help (usually 2 or 3 wonderful cooks/housekeepers/nannies at any given time), but both my Mama and Papi were extremely hands-on, and were there to meticulously supervise and make sure everything was utterly PERFECT.
I’d walk out to the dining room and glimpse my father balancing on a rattling ladder, in the midst of fervently fixing a faulty chandelier, while Faress (his loyal all-round helper) would be clinging onto the ladder, trying desperately to balance it and begging in the most panicked tone to let him do it. But as always, Papi just HAD to do it himself. I believe I get my stubbornness and intense resistance to delegating from him.
This dish is one of my mother’s specialties. One of those recipes that she got asked for over and over again, and that kept making reappearances in almost every event we hosted. She would, of course, always comply and insist that it is “OH SO easy” (which is one thing I definitely picked up from her).
The tanginess from the yoghurt marinade pairs wonderfully with the spiciness of the tandoori paste and slightly cools it down. My mother used to serve it with yellow spiced rice, but I find the fragrant blandness of jasmine rice to be a much better accompaniment to the rich, aromatic creaminess of the sauce. The recipe calls for a small amount of pure cream, which I think finishes it off beautifully, however if you want a lighter option you may replace the cream with an equal amount of stock or even coconut milk would work well.
- 200 g natural or Greek yoghurt
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- juice of half a large lemon about 2-3 tbsp
- 4 tbsp tandoori paste *
- 800 g boneless, skinless chicken breast cut into bite sized pieces
- 2-3 tbsp ghee or olive oil or coconut oil
- 1 tbsp sugar or honey
- 200 ml pure cream
- salt & pepper to taste
- In a large bowl. mix the yoghurt, garlic, lemon juice and tandoori paste. Add the chicken, mix well, cover with plastic wrap and place in the fridge to marinate for at least an hour or up to overnight.
- In a large non-stick pan on high heat, ad a tablespoon ghee/oil. When the pan is very hot, add the chicken in one layer, careful not to overcrowd the pan (pick up the chicken pieces from the marinade with tongs and shake off excess before placing in pan) and cook for 3-4minutes, turning halfway, until slightly browned. Remove chicken from pan and set aside. Repeat until all chicken is cooked.
- Pour the cream into the pan and stir to get all the flavours incorporated.
- Return the chicken to the pan. Add the sugar/honey. Simmer for a couple of minutes then taste and adjust seasoning. If the sauce is too thick, add a few tablespoons of water. Serve with steamed jasmine rice.
* you can find tandoori paste sold in jars in almost any big supermarket.
- For a lighter version, replace the cream with an equal amount of stock or coconut milk.
- You may also use boneless skinless chicken thighs if you prefer, just make sure to adjust cooking time.
Calories: 244kcalCarbohydrates: 2gProtein: 34gFat: 10gSaturated Fat: 5gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 0.02gCholesterol: 118mgSodium: 186mgPotassium: 592mgSugar: 2gVitamin A: 48IUVitamin C: 2mgCalcium: 8mgIron: 1mg
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!