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Tandoori Chicken with Raitha Dressing

An Indian classic becomes a main course salad, but still packs a punch!

Tandoori Chicken with Raitha Dressing

If you love Indian food, but wish you could enjoy the bold and delicious flavors in a lighter preparation, then you will swoon over this filling and nutritious salad. Boneless-skinless chicken breasts sit overnight in a yogurt-based, tandoori-spiced marinade before being grilled. The salad is composed with elements normally found in the cooling Indian condiment, raitha—tomato, cucumber, and onion—and then dressed with a thinned yogurt sauce punctuated with toasted whole cumin and coriander. Mini papadams finish the dish as would croutons. Honestly, it’s just a glorious salad, and a clever way to enjoy typically heavier fare. Skip the "croutons" and you've got a gluten-free dish!

Equipment: cutting board; chef’s knife; paring knife; dry and wet measuring cups; reamer or fork; microplane; measuring spoons; mixing bows; rubber spatula; small sauté pan; grill; heatproof pastry brush; grill tongs; grill offset spatula

Tandoori Chicken Ingredients:

4 boneless-skinless chicken breasts

1 cup plain yogurt

½ red onion, finely chopped

2 garlic cloves, minced

2 teaspoons grated ginger

juice of 1 lemon

1 tablespoon garam masala

1 teaspoon ground coriander 1 teaspoon paprika

½ teaspoon ground cumin red food coloring (optional)

Salad Dressing Ingredients:

1 cup plain yogurt

2 teaspoons coriander seeds

1 teaspoon cumin seeds

juice of one lemon

¼ cup water

1 tablespoon chopped cilantro

kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Salad Ingredients:

8 cups baby romaine or mixed baby lettuces

2 tomatoes, cut into chunks

1 cucumber, sliced thinly crosswise

½ red onion, thinly sliced into rings

24 mini pappadams or naan chips

1. First prepare the marinade for the chicken. Combine all of the ingredients in a large mixing bowl, and then add the chicken breasts, tossing well to coat. Cover and refrigerate for four hours up to overnight.

ILOC tip: if you want to achieve a vibrant red, classic tandoori color, add some red food coloring to your marinade. The marinade will become more pink than red, but once cooked, the chicken will have the desired effect.

2. To prepare the salad dressing, put the yogurt in a mixing bowl and set aside. Place the coriander and cumin seeds in a small sauté pan and heat over medium heat, shaking the pan every 30 seconds, until the seeds become toasted and fragrant, about 3 -4 minutes. Immediately pour the hot, toasted seeds into the yogurt and stir. Stir in the lemon juice, water, cilantro, and salt and pepper. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed. Set aside.

ILOC tip: the salad dressing should be more liquid than solid, a pourable, thinned yogurt sauce. Add more water, if necessary to achieve the desired thickness.

3. Preheat the grill to 450F, or heat an indoor grill pan over medium-high heat. Grease the grill or pan with vegetable oil, using a heatproof pastry brush. Lift the marinated chicken from the yogurt, shaking off any excess and place on the grill. Cook for 5-6 minutes per side, until the chicken is no longer pink inside and cooked thoroughly.

ILOC tip: do not move or lift the chicken during the cooking process, allowing it to cook and release itself more easily from the grill, except to turn the chicken halfway through cooking.

4. Remove the chicken from the grill and set aside to rest for a few minutes before slicing. Slice each breast in 6-8 slices and set aside.

5. To compose the salad, toss the greens, tomatoes, cucumbers, and red onions with half the yogurt dressing. Divide the salad evenly among four plates and garnish with papadams or naan chips. Top each plate with sliced chicken breast and spoon with additional yogurt dressing.

Makes 4 servings.

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