Monday, December 7, 2009

Pumpkin Tandoori Chicken

Here's a meal to spice up your life and your pallet. I am no expert in Indian cooking, but this traditionally Indian dish I can handle. It's easy and can be used for great leftovers. The name "tandoori" comes from a traditional Indian dish that actually is named for the kind of oven that it is baked in. The "tandoor" oven is a clay oven shaped like a bell and is set in the ground and heated by wood or charcoal. They traditionally reach up to around 900 degree heat. These type of ovens cook the meat quickly so to have a crispy outside and juicy, tender middle. True tandoori ovens are usually only found in authentic Indian kitchens, yet the "tandoori" chicken is reproduced in many modern kitchens just because of the similar flavors and high heat idea. It is a great way for some one to experiment with some new spices and it is so simple that it will not create a lot of prep time or worry.  

I love to try new things with chicken. Think about how boring life would be if we made chicken the same way every time. It is one of those meats to get easily bored with just because. It can become too common and too easy. So this is a recipe to give you a chance to step outside the traditional baked chicken meal. I added the pumpkin to use some fresh pumpkin puree up, but it is not a must have ingredient in the recipe. You can make this chicken without it if you must. Just add some extra lemon juice or oil to make sure you have enough moisture to soak up all the spices you use. Spice up your life this week. Make life interesting. I hope you enjoy! 
Pumpkin Tandoori Chicken Recipe:
1 1/2 pound of fresh (grass-fed is best) chicken breast cut into thinner strips or pieces
3/4 cup of coconut yogurt, or strained cow or goat yogurt
4 TB. of fresh or canned pumpkin puree
1 TB or juice of half of fresh lemon
1 TB of olive oil
1 TB of chili powder
1 ts of cardamon, cumin, coriander, paprika, cinnamon and garlic powder.
1/2 ts. of nutmeg, ginger, cayenne pepper, sea salt and black pepper if you desire more pepper
handful of fresh sage, and thyme

First, cut the raw chicken breasts into 2 strips or 3 depending on how big the cut of meat is. Then in a mixing bowl pour in the yogurt and all the other ingredients, whip up to mix in completely. Add the chicken and coat it completely in the yogurt/spice mixture. You can soak and marinate this mix for up to overnight, but you could just soak it for 30 minutes at least. 

Pour the chicken and sauce into a 9x13 baking glass pan (Pyrex pan). Chop some fresh sage and thyme leaves and sprinkle over the chicken before baking. If you do not have the fresh herbs, just sprinkle a touch of dry sage or thyme over the chicken.

Bake the chicken in a pre-heated 450 degree oven for 25-30 minutes. Cut into the meat to see it is cooked all the way through and there is no pink spots. It shouldn't be too dry at this point. Let cool just a few minutes before serving. A lot of the moisture has been baking into the chicken, but there should be still a little sauce on the side to enjoy with the meal.
I served this dish with some roasted tahini cauliflower to have a grain-free meal, and yet enough warmth and nutrients to feel completely satisfied and full. It was a very quick meal that way easily prepared and cleaned up. It could be served with a side of Basmati rice or another vegetable or salad. It is what you make of it. 

Another benefit...I used this dish for another meal the next day. I had half of the chicken left over, so I chopped the breasts into bite-sized pieces and cooked 1 cup of Basmati rice beforehand. Then I mixed the cooked rice and remaining chicken pieces with the little bit of the leftover pumpkin yogurt sauce (about 2 TB or so) in a large frying pan wok. I added an extra TB of olive oil and coconut milk beverage and it was a creamy chicken and rice risotto dish within minutes. So if you are eating for one or two you can turn this chicken dish into a few healthy meals quite easily. This is an example of how to stretch the meals you have and be resourceful with your budget and time.  
I hope you have a great week and find ways to be creative and nourished always. 


  1. Pumpkin, chicken, and coconut? What a great idea! I can't wait to try this, as I have all three in my fridge right now. And with all those heavenly Indian spices, I bet it's as tasty as your photos look! I just love those So Delicious coconut milk beverages and yogurts. Have you tried the new coffee creamers? The vanilla is incredible!

  2. I do love all of the So Delicious coconut products. I have tried the hazelnut coffee creamer and yes, it was fabulous. I have been enjoying their products very much! Thanks for the comment!

  3. Yum! I'm going to try this with the So Delicious coconut plain yogurt. When you say 1/2 or 1 tsp of the spices, you mean that amount per spice, right?

  4. M- Yes, I mean that PER spice. I like to spice things up a bit, so I used 1 ts. but I suggest the 1/2 ts of spice for starting out for those who are a bit on the sensitive side to spicing things up, or maybe have children that would like less spice. I personally love the spice in this dish and think it works perfectly... so delicious coconut yogurt would work perfectly with this recipe as well... definitely recommend that. Thanks.