Seems like I just blinked and April’s gone! With May comes Cinco de Mayo i.e. May 5th, the day when everyone here in the US is more than happy to celebrate the Mexican culture with some delicioso Mexican food and drinks. For me, its a great excuse to put some quick and easy tacos or quesadillas on the dinner table for my family.This year, for Cinco de Mayo, I’m thinking of switching things up a bit. I’m going to make Indian version of the Mexican tacos – the chicken tikka tacos!
It is not exactly a fusion food as the name might suggest; the original dish was an inspiration for me to come up with my concoction. I took the concept of a classic Mexican taco and gave it an Indian spin with sizzling chicken tikka off the grill laid over warm, soft roti or naan, topped with sliced onions and cabbage, hit with a splash of lemon juice and drizzled with a cool cilantro-mint yogurt dressing. For a vegetarian version, I use the Indian paneer and it tastes just as good as the chicken. I’ve made these tikka tacos many times before and my family really loves them. They were a hit at my summer barbecue party last year and I think they will be perfect to turn the weeknight into a fiesta night this year!
Chicken Tikka Tacos
Serves 2 dinner portions or 4 small portions
1 lb boneless, skinless chicken thighs (or breasts, if you prefer), cut into about 1-2 inch pieces big enough to stay on the grill
For the marinade:
3/4th cup yogurt (strained or Greek)
1 tbsp ginger-garlic paste (for homemade paste, mince 1-2 garlic cloves and 1 inch piece of ginger)
1/2 a lemon, juiced
1 tbsp Tandoori Chicken Masala
salt (if needed, as the Tandoori Masala has salt in it)
1 tsp cayenne pepper or red chilli powder (optional, for desired level of heat)
For the dressing:
3/4th cup yogurt
1 Thai/bird-eye chili (optional)
a handful of mint leaves, roughly chopped
a handful of cilantro leaves, roughly chopped
fresh ground black pepper
1 tsp granulated sugar
For the tacos:
1 small red onion, sliced
1 cup shredded cabbage
1 small green pepper, sliced (optional)
lemon wedges (optional)
Marinating the Chicken
In a medium bowl, whisk together the ingredients for the marinade. Adjust salt or spice level and then toss in the chicken pieces. Make sure the chicken is coated evenly with the marinade. Seal with a plastic wrap and marinate in the refrigerator for 6-8 hours.
Preparing the Dressing
In a mini food processor, mix the ingredients for the dressing. Adjust seasonings and refrigerate until ready to use.
Grilling the Chicken
Place a grill pan over medium-high heat or preheat a gas or charcoal grill to medium-high heat.
Using a pair of tongs, remove the chicken pieces from the marinade, and shake off excess marinade. If you want, you can thread the chicken on to skewers. Grill the chicken on the first side for 3 to 4 minutes, then flip and repeat cooking on the second side. Brush the breasts with ghee or oil right after flipping.
Remove the chicken from the grill on to a platter. Let it rest for about 5 mins. You can serve the chicken tikka at this point along with the yogurt dressing as an appetizer.
Assembling the Tacos
Heat the tandoori roti or naan on the grill or in the oven.
Place the roti or naan on a plate. Lay 4-5 chicken tikka pieces over it. Add a splash of lemon juice, if you’d like. Place onions, cabbage, green peppers (if using) over the chicken and drizzle the yogurt dressing over it.