I’m going to be honest. I’ve been in a serious blog rut lately. Something about all of the traveling I’ve been doing has left me uninspired in my own kitchen, and all of the writing about dining out has just served as a reminder of how little I have been cooking lately. When I have cooked, I haven’t been as eager to take pictures. I usually just want to kick back and relax on the two days (if even) that I have home each week.

Case in point: last Saturday I invited some friends over for a small cookout on our deck. Since I hadn’t cooked anything in awhile, I wanted it to be epic. Except then I couldn’t for the life of me come up with any ideas. Maybe I was just setting the bar too high for myself and couldn’t come up with anything I deemed awesome enough? Or I just forgot how to cook? Whatever the case was, I was stumped.

But then I got some good news. Starting in two weeks, I’m going to be working locally for three whole months! What a novel concept, right?

I can finally get into a normal menu planning, grocery shopping, and cooking routine. I’ll get the 16+ hours a week that I spend traveling back in my life (seriously, taking non-direct flights every week really sucks). I can sleep in my bed, shower in my shower, and actually spend weeknights with Matt (and my cat Bailey…she misses me too). It’s going to be wonderful. Yay, normal life!

Back to that dinner last Saturday. Despite wanting to make it epic, I decided that being relaxed and keeping it simple needed to be a priority. I planned the menu around Tandoori Style Grilled Chicken that I based on a recipe from David Lebovitz’s blog. It needed to marinate ahead of time anyways, so I could just grill it up when we were ready to eat. I decided to also make a tomato and cucumber salad, grilled naan, and rice biryani. I guess Matt was in quite a cooking mood because he added several dishes to the line-up: homemade samosas for an appetizer, chana masala to add to the main dish spread, and gulab jamun for dessert. So, I guess we failed on the keeping it simple part, but at least my inspiration is restored!

The Tandoori Style Grilled Chicken was fall off the bone tender, and the flavors of the warm Indian spices cooked over the charcoal grill were perfect for the chilly night. My only complaint is that I marinated it too long – almost 24 hours – which made it almost too tender. I think 4-8 hours would have been better. Regardless, this recipe is definitely one I’ll keep in my repertoire.

I’m also glad I made and froze extra because I’m envisioning adding some mayo and raisins to make an amazing chicken salad!

Tandoori Style Grilled Chicken

Adapted from recipe by David Lebovitz, recipe serves 4-6 (but I made more to have leftovers)

Ingredients

  • 4 skinless chicken thighs
  • 4 skinless chicken legs
  • 1/8 tsp. saffron powder, or 1/4 tsp. saffron threads (I actually used one packet of Paellero paella seasoning instead)
  • 1 Tbsp. boiling water
  • 3/4 tsp. coarse salt
  • 1 cup whole milk plain yogurt
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1 tsp. ground coriander
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. garam masala
  • 1/2 tsp. paprika (I used Spanish smoked paprika)
  • 1/2 tsp. turmeric
  • 1 1/2 tsp. chili powder (ok, I probably used more than that)
  • 10 turns fresh ground black pepper
  • juice of one fresh lime
  • 1 Tbsp. finely-minced fresh ginger
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and finely minced
  • fresh cilantro, chopped (for garnish)

Instructions

Soak the saffron in the boiling water for five minutes. Then, mix it in a large bowl or bag with the yogurt through the garlic. Add the chicken and marinade for at least four and up to eight hours.

Let the chicken get to room temperature before grilling (but don’t leave it out too long, obviously). Grill until nicely charred on both sides. If the chicken is not yet cooked through, place it in a 350°F oven for about 10 minutes. Garnish with the cilantro.

The beauty of this recipe was that the chicken was so moist that I left it in the oven for longer to finish the rest of the food and it didn’t even overcook.

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Do you ever find yourself in a cooking rut? What do you do for inspiration?

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