Family meal and party favorite
By June Naylor
Photos by Meda Kessler
Our Home Cooking series features favorite dishes and recipes from local residents.
Deepa Dayal admits she’s obsessed with good cooking and worldly flavors, and with others who are, too.
“My Instagram is filled with people and their food,” says the Southlake mom and wife, who works as an accountant for a produce company. She works long hours during the week but spends the weekends cooking the foods of her ancestors.
Born in Fiji, Dayal grew up on the dishes of her grandparents’ native India. She became passionate about food and experimental cooking while she lived in Australia, and found a kindred palate when she met her husband — also a Fijian with Indian ancestry — during her time living in New Zealand. His job brought them to North Texas, where they’re raising two daughters and where Dayal began teaching cooking classes at home.
“The pandemic put that ambition on hold, but we love having people over and sharing our food.” Dayal’s brand of Indian food features fresh ingredients. Her version of this barbecued chicken dish is vibrant with ginger, garlic and spices — most easily found at Central Market and Whole Foods, although you’ll likely have to source fenugreek leaves online or from a specialty store such as Swadeshi, the new Indian grocer/cafe in Southlake. (Note: Do not substitute fenugreek seeds or powder for the leaves.)
To serve the chicken tikka, Dayal likes a refreshing, colorful raita — a cool yogurt sauce laced with the clean nip of fresh mint and tart crunch of pomegranate seeds.
Serves 6 to 8
- 4 teaspoons minced garlic (about 6 cloves)
- 2 teaspoons minced fresh ginger (a 2-inch piece)
- 1 cup Greek yogurt
- Juice from 2 limes
- 2 teaspoons red chile powder, or to taste
- 2 teaspoons grated raw beet (peeled)
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 2 teaspoons dried fenugreek leaves, crumbled
- 1 teaspoon garam masala
- 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs or breast
- Garnish: lemon and lime wedges, red onion, cilantro
Using mortar and pestle or back of wooden spoon, grind garlic and ginger to a paste. (You can add a little salt to quicken process.)
In a bowl, whisk together paste with yogurt, lime juice, chile powder, grated beet, salt, fenugreek and garam masala.
Cut chicken into 3-inch pieces and coat with mixture. Cover and refrigerate minimum of 3 hours or overnight.
At cooking time, thread chicken onto metal skewers (or wooden skewers that have soaked 30 minutes in water) and arrange on a roasting pan. Place on top shelf of oven under hot broiler for 5 minutes; pull out pan and baste chicken with a little vegetable oil.
Turn skewers to broil another 5 minutes. Or cook on the grill over medium-high indirect heat for 5 to 10 minutes, turning often to cook evenly.
Serve with warmed flatbread, Pomegranate Raita (recipe follows), sliced red onion, chopped cilantro and lemon and lime wedges.
Pomegranate Raita Whisk 1 cup Greek yogurt with 1 teaspoon ground cumin and ½ teaspoon each salt and sugar. Stir in 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh mint leaves and ¾ cup pomegranate seeds. Crush a few more pomegranate seeds to create juice to drizzle on top, and sprinkle another 2 to 3 tablespoons pomegranate seeds over the raita.