My family loves all things chicken and Jagan loves grilled chicken – any kind. He tells me that when he was in the UK, he visited Nando’s every other day, more often than he called me. So when we heard Nandos had opened in Chennai, we fought Velachery traffic for over an hour (not much by velachery standards), parked for a ransom, waited in line for a table and finally sat down to a chicken-aholic dinner.
I ordered the mildly spiced variant and kicked myself for not interpreting the chilli scale correctly. Even hot is generally not really hot for us, Indians. But the chicken was really good. It was really different from the grilled chicken that we’re used to. The chicken was mildly hot with a slight lemony tang and bursting with lovely fresh flavours. I made a mental note to try it later but forgot about it until I signed up for the “African cuisine” theme in Srivalli’s blogging Marathon. If you don’t know the connection, peri-peri means African bird’s eye chilli. Portuguese explorers who came to Africa discovered this wonderful chilli and also concocted the peri peri sauce.
I found a recipe that I really liked and I followed for the most part and it turned out great. I served it with a slaw alongside a west African Peanut soup (recipe coming up tomorrow). I just cannot tell you how easy grilled chicken is. Photographing it isn’t easy but making it is really easy. Easy enough to make on busy weekday mornings as well. Just marinate the chicken the previous night and shove it in the fridge. If I am using frozen chicken, I don’t even wait for it to thaw. I get nervous if I need to wait during cooking. I score the chicken (you’ll have to use a little bit of brute force and blow over your hands while doing this) and then rub the marinade all over and let it thaw in the fridge overnight also soaking in the marinade at the same time. It works. Then first thing in the morning, before you brush your teeth, preheat the oven. Then brush your teeth. Then just dump the chicken, marinade and all into a roasting pan, place in the oven and forget about it. The aroma will beckon you after an hour.
Prep time: 10 mins
Marinating time: 4 hours or overnight
Grilling time: 40 minutes – 1 hour
Chicken – legs 2 & breasts 2 (Use any cut of equivalent proportion)
Red bell pepper/Red Capsicum – 1 medium sized, deseeded and chopped roughly
Bird’s eye chillies or Whole dry red chillies – 8-10 (if using whole dry red chillies like me, soak them in hot water for 10 minutes)
Garlic cloves – 8 large ones
Lemon juice – from 1 lemon
Vinegar – 1 tsp
Tarragon – 2 tsp
Oregano – 2 tsp
Salt to taste
Oil – 2 tbsp
1. Clean chicken, pat dry, score and set aside.
2. To a pan, add oil and when hot, throw in the garlic cloves and let brown slightly. Then throw in the roughly chopped red bell pepper and the bird’s eye chillies or soaked dry red chillies along with the liquid. Cook for about 6-8 minutes or till the liquid boils away and the peppers are a bit softer. Switch off. Add the lemon juice, vinegar, salt, oregano and tarragon. Mix. Let cool and then blend to a puree.
3. Pour the puree over the chicken pieces and rub into the chicken making sure the chicken is well coated all over. Refrigerate the marinated chicken for 4 hours or overnight in a refrigerator.
4. Preheat oven to 200 degrees centigrade. Transfer the chicken and the marinade to a roasting pan. Grill for 40 minutes or up to 1 hour, turning the chicken over around the halfway mark. Serve hot with coleslaw.
Check out the Blogging Marathon page for the other Blogging Marathoners doing BM#36