comfort food, cultural food fusion, food for a crowd, food is love, from scratch cooking, fun, housewife, main dishes, mother of boys, my tandoori chicken is fluent in several languages, summer grilling
Oh, yeah! You read that right. Tandoori. Chicken. Fajitas! I love fajitas in the summer time. LOVE them! Fajitas are the perfect summer party food. Spiced, tender grilled chicken adorned with crisp-tender vegetables, snuggled up in a warm tortilla. What’s not to love about that?
BTW–tandoori chicken, it is traditionally an Indian or South Asian dish in which chicken is marinated in yogurt and spices, then cooked in a clay oven called a tandoor. The dish is moderately hot, but we Westerners tend to take the heat down a few notches.
Now, I have a “go to” fajita recipe that I have used forever, and saw no reason to change that fact. But a few nights ago, I was planning to make my own take on tandoori chicken, but it was hot outside and I kind of felt like having fajitas instead. Then BAM! I thought “why not tandoori chicken fajitas?” So I made them. And they were so brilliantly awesome that I may never make regular fajitas again. Amen.
Make Tandoori Chicken Fajitas. Make them for your friends and family. Make them for your neighbors. Make them for complete strangers–they’ll love ya for it. Just make them!
There is a lot of flavor going on here, so labeling the cast shot is a must. You’ll need: Boneless, skinless chicken breasts, plain Greek style yogurt, cayenne pepper, ground cinnamon, cumin, smoked paprika, kosher salt, black pepper, garlic, and fresh lemon juice.
First, grab a gallon size, zippered storage bag to mix the marinade in. Open the bag, and dump in the yogurt, all of the dried spices, and a few cloves of minced garlic.
Then squeeze in the fresh lemon juice. This is just a marinade, so don’t worry if a few seeds get in the bag. Seal the bag, and squish the marinade ingredients around in there, until they are well blended. Set the bag aside while tending to the chicken.
Place a sheet of plastic wrap onto a cutting board. Put a chicken breast in the middle of plastic wrap, then lay another sheet of plastic wrap over the chicken. Pound the chicken with the flat side of a meat mallet, starting in the middle and working outward, until the chicken breast is an even thickness–about 1/4 inch thick. Place the flattened chicken breast into the marinade bag, and repeat with the remaining pieces of chicken.
Once all of the chicken breasts are in the marinade, seal the bag, and toss the chicken in the bag to coat. Set the bag on a clean plate, and refrigerate for about 4 hours. There is a serious flavor party going on in that bag!
Did I really just use the term flavor party? Why yes. Yes, I did. Please stage an intervention before I end up getting a mullet. Thanks.
Rather than dwell on my eternal dorkiness, prep the veggies instead. I’m a tri-colored sweet bell pepper & onion kind of fajita gal. Hubby likes a few mushrooms added to the mix, but I don’t like mushrooms, so I don’t always remember to buy them. Sorry Hubby! Feel free to substitute your favorite vegetables.
I’m kind of lazy when it comes to bell peppers. I slice the sides away from the seeded core, like I would an apple, one side at a time. Then pinch and pull any white membranes that are stuck to the inside, and flick out any seeds. Flick is a very technical cooking term in my house.
Once all of the peppers have been sliced away from their seeded cores, slice the pieces into long, 1/4 inch wide strips (called a julienne.)
Grab a few onions, and slice off the root and tip ends. Stand up the onion, and cut it into quarters. Peel off the outer paper membrane, then separate the layers.
Place the peppers and onions into another gallon size storage bag. Seal it, and pop it in the fridge until you are ready to saute them.
When ready to cook, remove the chicken from the bag, and throw away any remaining marinade. Grill the chicken over medium heat for 12 minutes, or until cooked through. Every grill cooks at a different rate, so watch your chicken!
Confession: I did not grill this chicken. Hubby is the Master of the Flame in our house, so he is in charge of all things grilled. The following grilling instructions were carefully explained to, and are transcribed by me:
Hubby says to grill one side for 2 minutes, and then flip the chicken and grill the second side for another 2 minutes. After that, flip the chicken back to the first side and grill for 4 more minutes before flipping back to the second side, and grilling for another 4 minutes, or until done. His super-secret grilling method for all meats is to sear both sides to seal in the juices, then flip at least one more time during the grilling process.
Once cooked, let chicken rest for 3 minutes on a clean plate or cutting board. If you’re like my BFF Maggie, you’ll bask in the awesome aroma that is permeating the house.
While Hubby is grilling the chicken, I am simultaneously sauteing vegetables, and getting the tortillas and fajita condiments of choice ready. To do so, pour a little olive oil into a large skillet, and heat it over medium high heat. Once the oil is hot, dump the contents of the bag of prepared veggies to the skillet. Give it a quick stir.
Realize that a “Skinny Margarita” was placed right next to you. Pause for a sip.
Then enlist the help of an eager 10 year old to man the skillet. Have her cook and stir the veggies until they are done to your liking. I like the veggies to be tender, but still crisp to the bite, and just starting to caramelize. That usually takes about 5-6 minutes.
While the munchkin is doing the other work for you, slice the chicken across the grain into thin strips. Warm the tortillas, and get the other accompaniments ready.
Place a warm tortilla on a dinner plate, then layer it with a few pieces of chicken, and a healthy amount of the sauteed veggies. If you are a little lacking in the food-self-control department like me, you’ll snarf one down before anyone realizes that the fajitas are ready.
However, if you are a rational, controlled human being, take the time to add such tasty adornments like guacamole, black bean salsa, and a little cheese.
Savor the aroma.
Take a little time to admire the beauty that is the Tandoori Chicken Fajita.
Photograph said beautiful fajita to later share the experience with your friends.
Then snarf it down before anyone knows the fajitas are ready.
Tandori Chicken Fajitas
Serves 8-10 (recipe can be halved)
6 boneless skinless chicken breasts (OR 2 1/2 pounds turkey breast tenderloins)
For the Marinade:
1 C. plain Greek style yogurt
¼ tsp. kosher salt
¼ tsp. ground black pepper
4 tsp. smoked paprika
½ tsp. cayenne pepper
¼ tsp. ground cinnamon
½ tsp. ground cumin
4 cloves garlic, peeled & minced
1/3 C. fresh lemon juice
For the Vegetables:
1 Tbs. olive oil
3 sweet bell peppers (I like 1 yellow, 1 orange, 1 red)
1 large onion
Tortillas and Condiments of your choosing
To prepare the marinade:
- Combine yogurt, salt, pepper, smoked paprika, cayenne, cinnamon, and cumin in a large zippered storage bag.
- Add the minced garlic and fresh lemon juice to the bag, before sealing the bag.
- Shake and squish the contents of the bag until completely blended.
To prepare the chicken:
- Working with one chicken breast at a time, place the breast in between two sheets of plastic wrap set onto a cutting board.
- Pound the breast with the flat side of a meat mallet, until it is of an even ¼ inch thickness. (Start in the center and work outward.)
- Place the flattened chicken breast into the bag of marinade.
- Repeat the process with the remaining chicken breasts, until all have been flattened and are in the marinade.
- Seal the bag of marinade, being sure to get the majority of the air out of the bag.
- Toss to evenly coat all of the chicken breasts in the marinade.
- Lay the bag of chicken flat on a dinner plate, and refrigerate for 2-4 hours.
- When ready to cook, remove the chicken from the marinade. Throw away any remaining marinade.
- Grill the chicken over medium heat for 12 minutes, or until cooked through. Every grill cooks at a different rate, so watch your chicken! (I grill one side for 2 minutes, and then flip the chicken and grill the second side of another 2 minutes. Then I flip the chicken back to the first side and grill for 4 more minutes before flipping back to the second side, and grilling for another 4 minutes, or until done.)
- Once cooked, let chicken rest for 3 minutes on a cutting board.
- After resting, slice the chicken into ¼ to ½ inch slices against the grain.
- To serve, layer sliced chicken on a tortilla, and spoon sautéed vegetables (see method below) over top. Adorn fajita with desired condiments, such as salsa, sour cream, cheese, and guacamole.
To prepare the vegetables:
- Core and seed the peppers.
- Slice the peppers lengthwise into ¼ inch wide strips. (Called “julienne.”)
- Slice the root and tip ends off the onion. Quarter the onion, and separate the layers.
- Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat.
- Sautee the peppers and onion in the skillet for 5-6 minutes, or until crisp-tender, stirring continously.
- Remove vegetables to a bowl, and serve with the sliced chicken.