Saturday, August 1, 2009

Almost Tandoori Chicken & Pineapple

A whole pineapple, chicken and India spices for around a dollar, plus a bbq grill, equals another 99 Cent Chef delicious budget entree. Looking through my spice rack and refrigerator yogurt selection turns up enough ingredients to almost make an India-style tandoori marinade -- although, short a few spices, it will still be tasty! No coriander or cardamon but plenty of cumin, ginger, clove and garlic powder; and no clay oven for baking tandoori chicken, but a barbecue grill will suffice.

And pairing smoky spicy chicken with grilled sweet and tangy fresh pineapple on sale is a killer combination for a hot summer dish.
The Chef tries to keep a full spice rack, but sometimes they get used up, or -- like India garam masala -- they're harder to find. Individual select India spices are easy to get on sale; you just need to make a mix.

I've found powdered cumin, ginger, cloves and many other Middle Eastern spices at Latin markets, 99c only Stores and regular discount markets. I am lucky to have a few small India mom-and-pops close at hand in Culver City to make up the difference. If you have all the tandoori spices on hand, then go for it, but don't worry about leaving out a few, it will still taste great.

Yogurt binds these spices together and you only need a small carton - I get the type with fruit on the bottom because it is usually on sale; just leave the fruit out. Coat the chicken pieces with the Chef's "almost tandoori" marinade and let it refrigerate covered for an hour or two, if possible.

I was lucky to run across fresh pineapple at sale at 3 pounds for a dollar at my local Latin market and a whole pineapple for 99.99 cents at this 99c only Store. Fresh pineapple flavors are more intensely sweet and citrus sour -- grilling tones down the sour and increases the sweetness. Of course, regular canned sliced pineapple can be used; I have grilled it and it works fine. If you have any left over, make a breakfast smoothie the next day.

Be sure to use up fresh pineapple quickly, as it turns brown in 24 hours (drizzle with lemon juice to prolong) compared to pasteurized canned. Pineapple generally cooks faster than chicken, so I add it later when one side of the chicken is brown.

A ripe pineapple is not all green; it should be turning yellow, but not brown and soft. Peeling a whole pineapple is messy, but worth it. Just chop off the top and bottom and slice off the skin as you would an apple -- cut deep enough to remove all the tough scales. Lastly, half the pineapple lengthwise to slice out the tough core. The core is like fresh-peeled sugar cane and a sweet chew!

The Chef's Almost Tandoori Chicken & Pineapple recipe can be converted into a shish kabob: just cut ingredients into smaller pieces -- try adding slices of yellow/red bell pepper and onion, too. You can also bake this entree in a regular oven (about 45 minutes at 350 degrees).
*Please note that The Chef used budget ingredients from 4 different stores! Pick up your discount foodstuffs when you see them on sale and store it!

Ingredients for Tandoori Coating (about 4 chicken pieces)
  • Mix and match whatever Indian style spices you have on hand - it will taste delish!
  • 6 oz. yogurt (plain or with fruit on the bottom - leave out fruit)
  • 1 tbsp. ground cumin
  • 1 tsp. ground ginger or fresh minced
  • 1 tsp. garlic - fresh chopped or powder
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cloves
  • Other tandoori spices include: teaspoon each of ground cardamom, coriander, garam masala and cinnamon.

Mix tandoori ingredients into yogurt (leave out fruit on the bottom}. Coat 4 pieces of chicken and allow to marinate covered in the refrigerator an hour or two. Prepare pineapple by cutting into large slices for grilling. Heat grill and brown chicken on one side then add pineapple to grill. Check on pineapple often as it will brown faster because of its high sugar content. Add extra marinade to chicken during grilling. Chicken is done when juices run clear when pierced in thickest part. I had chicken pieces with both skin-on and off - both taste delish. My gas grill cooked chicken in about 20-30 minutes on low heat.


Pasadena Adjacent said...

Grilled pinapple...I could do that. BTW are the 80 bands back at Hollywood Park? I would kill to see English Beat

99 Cent Chef said...

Hi Palm Axis, 80's bands were back this summer and I saw the English Beat - they were great!

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