First up this week is Baked tandoori chicken tenderloins with raita. We love tandoori chook. It’s a little bit daggy, as I use tandoori paste straight from the jar*, but it’s so yummy, dunked into home-made raita and dished up with saffron rice and peas. Both my boys love it, although I rinse the 5-year old’s chicken pieces a tiny bit as they’re too ‘burny’ for him.
Reserve a few pieces of the baked tandoori chicken and you can whip up a fantastic Tandoori chicken pizza with fresh rocket later in the week. Tandoori pizza features in the ‘gourmet’ section of our local pizza place (and probably yours too) but it’s served with huge soggy plops of sour cream – so unappetising. We love it with a simple scattering of bocconcini, red onion and rocket; on a thin, crispy home-made pizza base.
I’ve included my recipe for tasty home-made pizza sauce, which is full of hidden pureed vegetables. I nearly always have a batch of it in the freezer. It’s a fab sauce to use for quick margherita-style pizzas for the kid’s lunchboxes – nothing better than cold leftover pizza for lunch!
My recipe for wholemeal pizza dough is in the Handy Guides section too. It contains wholemeal atta flour (chapati flour), which is readily available nowadays; and oat bran, so it’s relatively healthy. Making pizza dough is the perfect kid’s activity. My 8-year old sous chef loves kneading and rolling; and my 5-year old kitchen assistant is a top-notch sauce-spreader. The kneading also provides excellent incidental exercise – hey, I grab my physical activity wherever I can. I ain’t no gym bunny (although I probably should be).
*Supermarket tandoori paste is fine, although it contains lots of numbers. We love Curry Creations pastes. They used to have a shop at Prahran Market, but now sell online only. Their pastes are fab as they have no artificial flavours or colours and no preservatives. Well worth the extra expense.
Ingredients (serves 4 for 2 meals):
⅓ cup (80g) tandoori paste
⅓ cup (80g) Greek (or natural) yoghurt
1¼ kilos (2½ lb) chicken tenderloins (about 18 pieces)
Basic cucumber raita, to serve
Pico de gallo (fresh tomato salsa), mixed with rocket (arugula), to serve
Saffron rice with peas:
1 small red (Spanish/purple) onion, finely diced
1 tablespoon olive oil
1½ cups basmati rice
Large pinch saffron strands
2 cups chicken stock, home-made or store-bought
1 cup water, plus ½ cup extra
Salt and freshly cracked black pepper
1 cup frozen baby peas
Combine the tandoori paste and yoghurt in a large glass bowl. Add the chicken and toss to coat well. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or overnight.
Meanwhile, make the saffron rice with peas. Heat olive oil in a large heavy-based saucepan over medium heat. Cook the onion for 5 minutes. Add the rice, stock, 1 cup water and saffron. Bring to the boil, reduce to a simmer and cook, covered, for 10 minutes. Add an extra ½ cup water and the peas. Season. Simmer a further 5 minutes, until the rice is cooked through.
To cook the tandoori chicken tenders, preheat oven to 200ºC.
Place tandoori-coated chicken pieces on a tray lined with baking paper.
Bake for 10 minutes. Turn and bake for a further 5 minutes or until golden brown and cooked through. Be careful not to overcook them. Remove from oven and keep warm on the tray, lightly covered with foil.
♦ Reserve about 350g (¾ lb) cooked tandoori chicken tenderloins for the Tandoori Chicken Pizzas with fresh rocket.
Serve the remaining chicken tenderloins with basic cucumber raita, cherry tomato salsa (mixed with rocket) and saffron rice with peas.
- Chicken tenderloins, also called ‘chicken tenders’, are located under the breast of the chicken and are usually still weakly attached to the breast and easy to remove. They are super succulent and, dare I say it, tender! Most butchers sell them separately, but if unavailable, you can replace them with thick slices of chicken breast.
- To make this meal more Wintery, swap the cherry tomato salsa for Roasted pumpkin and baby carrots with cumin. This can be cooked in the oven at the same time as the Baked tandoori chicken tenderloins.
[Recipe 2] Tandoori chicken pizza with fresh rocket
Ingredients (serves 4):
1 quantity wholemeal (wholewheat) pizza dough, or 2 large store-bought pizza bases
250g (9 oz) home-made pizza sauce, or tomato passata (puree)
♦ About 350g (¾ lb) reserved tandoori chicken tenderloins, sliced
1 red (Spanish/purple) onion, very thinly sliced
4 or 5 bocconcini cheese balls, sliced
Fresh rocket (arugula) leaves, for scattering
Preheat oven to 250°C (480ºF).
Place two pizza trays into the hot oven to warm up, for at least 10 minutes. This is an important step for crispy-based pizzas.
If using home-made wholemeal (wholewheat) pizza dough, sprinkle flour on a sheet of baking paper. Roll out each dough ball into a circle, roughly the same size as your baking tray. Make the dough as thin as you can, as it will puff up a bit in the oven.
Spread each pizza base with home-made pizza sauce, or tomato passata.
♦ Scatter each pizza with reserved tandoori chicken.
Top with red onion and slices of bocconcini.
Carefully slide pizzas and baking paper onto pre-heated pizza trays and bake for 10–15 minutes until bubbling. You may need less cooking time if using pre-cooked store-bought pizza bases.
Remove from oven and scatter with rocket. Serve immediately.