Thursday, May 31, 2012

tikka tacos

Tex-mex and Indian food share a lot of flavors, if not necessarily a lot of similarities. Indian food  is more sophisticated, more varied. Dare I say...spicier? And given the relative newness of Tex-mex compared to Indian cuisine that makes sense. But think about it: you've got onions, cilantro, citrus, cumin, corriander seed, chilies, red sauces, garlic, rice etc running through both. Thats a lot of combinations familiar to two totally different palates. Even naan is like a big yeasty tortilla (the prawn to the tortilla's shrimp). And chili powder reminds me of a fischer-price "my first masala."

The idea here was to create a fusion of chicken tikka masala (drool) and a taco, but with a tex-mex twist in the tikka. Did it work? Weeeell, that depends on the goal. If the goal was to create a harmonious, subtle fusion of two cuisines (and dishes) that evokes both, then no. If the goal was to create a taco that tastes like tikka masala wrapped in a tortilla, then yes. Hell yes it worked. It wasn't, frankly, the pretentious taco I'd imagined, but yeah it kinda ruled...

notes: I got the tikka recipe outline here (I think). Basic tikka ratio (although like chili, there is no right and wrong) seems to be can of tomatoes, half a can of tomato paste, half an onion, a few cloves of garlic, 2 inches of fresh ginger & cream. Chicken stock too, if you want a thinner sauce. Here I subbed chili puree for tomato paste. Shoulda used a tbsp or two anyway. Next time. Also, the tandoori masala, I get from the dfm at this booth. Their spices are incredible, hand blended & from family recipes & I bet you could order them online.

chicken tikka tacos
don't get comfy
(good for 6 maybe 8 tacos)

for chicken:
two split chicken breasts or 2 lbs milanesa chicken if your grocery has it
1 cup greek yogurt
juice of 2 lemons
ground corriander seed
ground cumin

for tikka:
2 cans of rotel (the stuff you put in queso)
1 new mexico or other dried chili, re-hydrated
half a yellow onion chopped
ouch, you cut me asshole!
3 cloves garlic chopped
2 inch piece ginger chopped
tbsp tandoori masala
tsp cumin
1/2tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp chili powder
1/4 tsp crushed oregano
pint of cream

flour tortillas
hot sauce

take the chicken and sprinkle with salt, ground corriander and cumin (maybe a tbsp all combined. hey, i'm makin' up the rest of this shit. figure it out, i'm not your spice sherpa...) on both sides. place in a plastic bag.

mix the lemon juice and yogurt and add it to the bag o' chicken. toss to coat. let it marinade in the fridge for a couple of hours or at room temp for an hour or so.

puree the re-hydrated chili with a can of rotel until you get a smooth paste

sweat your onion, garlic  & ginger over med low heat until soft.

add spices and, bringing the heat up, saute a minute until fragrant.

add the can of rotel and the chili-rotel puree to the aromatics.

bring  juuuust barely to a boil, partially cap and simmer 20 minutes, maybe 30. don't let it loose too much liquid-- keep an eye out.

lower to burner as low as it'll go, just to keep the sauce warm. If it's too chunky, let half it cool then puree it.

i hope your grill (or broiler or whatever) is ready, because you need it now.

grill the chicken, trying to flip only once, about 10-12 minues. let rest a few minutes, then slice against the grain.

remove tikka sauce from heat. stir in heavy cream. don't do it all at once; stop when you like the color. you're looking for orangey like la madaleine's tomato soup.

serve on warm... dude, you know how to make a taco. if not, I CAN'T HELP YOU.

Sooo, the tikka didn't turn out right color wise. I used too much cream and, not thinking, less tomato than usual, which I adjusted in the recipe. A tbsp or so of tomato paste couldve helped too, but since I didn't use any, I left it out rather than completely lie to you. It really wasn't south of the border so much, unless you live in Nepal (north of India dick)*. But I think that shows some of the similarity between Tex-mex and Indian flavors-- you can jam something full of Tex-mex and still have it taste Indian. Take away the cream and the ginger and change the tandoori powder to chili powder and tell me you don't have chile con pollo. Actually that woulda been good, because the yogurt marinade on the chicken gave it a nice Indian flavor. Goddamnit! Why don't I think this shit out in advance?? Maybe throw some ginger in with the chicken marinade and do half tandoori and half chili powder in the tikka...And some cotija & lime. FUCK!! Why now brain, why? All in all, it wasn't the right color & it wasnt as tex-smexxxy as I had hoped. However I did strangle these tacos with my body, unhinge my jaw & jam them down my throat without chewing, much like a python. They were reptilian good. I still have taco shaped bulges in my mid secion**.

*although tikka masala as we tend to think of it is more of a traditional dish in england than in india. that'll teach me to make a geography joke. well, maybe just one more, and it's more of an observation than a joke: rand mcnally is a pussy.
**and a fresh one now, because i ate another taco while i typed this a day later.

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