The classic red hue of Tandoori chicken has nothing to do with flavour and sadly, is achieved from red food colouring...I try to avoid artificial colours so the Tandoori spice that I found from a local store uses red beet crystals for that lovely hue. If you can't find a pre made blend it is very easy to make yourself. I will list below. Cooking the turmeric in the quinoa leaves it a lovely bright yellow and cooks out any "raw" flavour the spice gives off. I love the contrast of the sweet raisins, crunchy cashews, spicy chicken and cooling raita. This is a simple but impressive meal that comes together in 30 mins if you skip the marinating of the chicken. It's not a huge deal but I do recommend it if you have the time. If you are into grilling these thighs can definitely be grilled on the BBQ!
Prep: 10 min & optional 2+ hour marinade
Cook: 20 min
Total: 30 min
8 chicken thighs
1 cup + 2 tbsp full fat plain greek yogurt
1 cup quinoa
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup cashews
1 lemon - divided
1 shallot - minced
1 clove garlic - finely grated or pressed
1 cup cilantro - minced
1 tbsp tandoori spice - store bought or homemade (below)
1/2 tsp turmeric
2 tbsp olive oil
salt + freshly ground black pepper
Homemade Tandoori Spice
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp coriander
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper (optional)
1 tsp beet powder (optional)
1 tsp sea salt
Pre heat oven to 325' place cashews on a baking sheet and toast for 12-15 mins until fragrant and golden brown. Set aside to cool then chop into finer pieces.
In a large mixing bowl whisk together 2 tbsp yogurt, juice of 1 half of your lemon, garlic, and 1 tbsp of tandoori spice. Add chicken and mix, making sure to cover each piece in marinade. Cover and chill for 2+ hours if you have the time.
In a medium sized sauce pan over medium-high heat add 1tbsp of olive oil, 1/2 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp turmeric and 1 cup of quinoa. Toast for about 30 seconds, continuously stirring. Add 2 cups of water (1&3/4 if your quinoa packaged advises you to rinse beforehand) and allow to come to a boil. Reduce heat to low, stir and cover. Cook for 15 minutes, remove from heat and let stand , covered, for 5 mins. Fluff with a fork and stir in your raisins and toasted cashews. Set aside for serving.
In a large skillet (preferably cast iron) over medium-high heat add 1 tbsp of olive oil. Once pan is hot add your chicken thighs, making sure to evenly space so they sear and char rather than steam (this will happen if they are too close together!) Cook for about 5 minutes until beginning to char and crisp in spots. Flip and repeat on other side. Remove from skillet and allow to rest for 5 minutes before slicing.
In a small bowl combine yogurt, the juice from the other 1/2 of your lemon, minced cilantro, minced shallot and 1/2 tsp sea salt. Mix well and set aside.
Divide quinoa pilaf amongst plates, top with sliced chicken thighs and serve with raita + extra cilantro.
If you don't like chicken thighs you can do this with breasts. Vegans can try with tofu/tempeh or, cauliflower.
Feel free to swap cashews for almonds or another nut.
This is great cold for lunch leftovers, especially the quinoa!