Food & Drink

Tandoori chicken just as savory minus the oven

Tandoori chicken, with its delicate blend of spices and intriguing aroma, is one of my favorite Indian dishes. One characteristic of this dish is that it is cooked in a special tandoori oven in most restaurants. Another important characteristic is the ginger, garlic, coriander and cayenne yogurt sauce in which the chicken is marinated and cooked.

For this dinner of Indian Spiced Chicken with Rice and Spinach Pilaf, I use an easy yogurt sauce to capture the essence of Tandoori chicken. Although not made in a special oven, the meal fills my requirement for some great Indian food, mid-week.

All of the spices can all be found in the spice section of the supermarket. To help the marinade penetrate the chicken, I make 3 long slits across the chicken. The method of browning the chicken and then covering it to finish cooking keeps the chicken moist and flavorful.

Here are a few helpful hints:

Use half of a 10-ounce washed, ready-to-eat bag of spinach.

Fresh cilantro can be used instead of fresh mint.

Onion is used in both recipes. Prepare them both at one time and divide accordingly.

What to do:

Marinate chicken.

Make rice dish.

Complete chicken.

Fred Tasker’s wine suggestion: This exotically spicy dish would be deliciously matched by a spicy gewurztraminer - either a slightly sweet version from California or a powerful, dry one from France’s Alsace region.

To buy: 1 small bunch fresh mint, 1 small piece fresh ginger (or ground ginger), 5 ounces fresh washed, ready-to-eat spinach, 3/4 pound boneless skinless chicken breast, 8 ounces nonfat yogurt. 1 bottle ground cumin, 1 bottle ground coriander and 1 package microwaveable brown rice.

Staples: Olive oil, minced garlic, raisins, sugar, cayenne pepper, salt and black peppercorns.

3/4 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts

1 cup non-fat plain yogurt, drained

1/4 cup loosely packed fresh mint leaves plus 2 tablespoons, chopped

1/2 inch fresh ginger, peeled and chopped (1 tablespoon) or 1 teaspoon ground ginger

1 teaspoon ground coriander

Pinch cayenne

1 teaspoon sugar

2 teaspoons olive oil

1 teaspoon minced garlic

Remove visible fat from chicken. Mix yogurt, 1/4 cup chopped mint, ginger, coriander, cayenne and sugar to make marinade. Divide marinade, reserving half in a separate bowl. Add chicken to half the marinade and let marinate 10 minutes, turning once during this time. Heat oil over medium-high heat in a nonstick skillet just large enough to hold chicken. Remove chicken from marinade and discard marinade. Add garlic and chicken to the skillet. Brown chicken 3 minutes. Turn and brown 2 minutes. Lower heat to medium. Spoon reserved half of marinade over chicken, cover and cook 5 minutes. Sprinkle with remaining 2 tablespoons chopped mint and serve. Makes 2 servings.

Per serving: 314 calories (27 percent from fat), 9.3 g fat (1.8 g saturated, 4.5 g monounsaturated), 128 mg cholesterol, 43.4 g protein, 13.3 g carbohydrates, 1 g fiber, 150 mg sodium.

Microwave brown rice

1 package microwaveable brown rice to make 1 ½-cups cooked rice

5 ounces fresh spinach (about 5 cups)

1/2 cup raisins

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon olive oil

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Cook rice according to package instructions. Measure 1 ½-cups and set aside the remaining rice for another dinner. Add the olive oil, and salt and pepper to taste.

Place spinach, raisins and ground cumin in a microwaveable-safe bowl. Microwave on high 1 minute. Add the cooked rice and olive oil to the spinach and mix well. Add salt and pepper to taste. Makes 2 servings.

Per serving: 310 calories (12 percent from fat), 4.2 g fat (0.7 g saturated, 2.2 g monounsaturated), no cholesterol, 7.1 g protein, 65.2 g carbohydrates, 5.8 g fiber, 73 mg sodium.

Linda Gassenheimer is the author, most recently, of “Simply Smoothies: Fresh & Fast Diabetes-Friendly Snacks & Complete Meals” and “The Flavors of the Florida Keys.” Her website is Follow her on Twitter lgassenheimer