Afghani cuisine has become an integral part of the Pakistani food scene for almost past 35 years. Many Afghani immigrant families have made Pakistan their home since the Soviet war in Afghanistan, and established businesses here too. Afghani restaurants selling the hearty, mildly spiced grilled food and Kabuli pulao are some of most coveted food spots in the country.
he flavours of Afghani cuisine are quite close to the food in the Northern areas of Pakistan. The entire region has strong influences of Central Asian and Middle Eastern cultures due to Persian and Mongolian wars and conquests. Lamb and chicken are widely enjoyed in the meat loving region. Dried fruits, nuts and spices are prominently featured but never over power the main the ingredient. The heat level from chillies is usually mild as compared to the food from Southern areas of Pakistan and India.
Afghani Chicken Tikka is meat marinated in hung yogurt or cream and nuts which ensures extreme tenderness which is the highlight of this particular dish. The spices used are very few and mostly aromatics. Flavour comes basically from salt, pepper and lemon juice.
This Afghani Chicken Tikka is not only a must-try for all grilled meat lovers but a great recipe for weight watchers too. I serve it with grilled vegetables and plain yogurt for a satisfying meal that finishes with cardamom spiked green tea.
1/2 kg chicken cut ups or boneless
1 tablespoon ginger-garlic paste
2 tablespoons hung yogurt (very thick yogurt)
4 tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon black peppercorns
1 teaspoon cumin
5-6 green cardamoms
1/2 stick cinnamon
1/2 cup cashews or almonds
salt to taste
2 tablespoons olive oil or ghee (clarified butter)
1 onion, sliced
2 tomatoes, sliced
2 green chilli peppers, sliced
This Is What You Do:
Add black peppercorns, cumin, cardamom, cinnamon and cashews to a dry mill or electric grinder. Grind to fine powder.
Mix the ground ingredients with lemon juice, yogurt, ginger-garlic and salt to make a paste. Marinate the chicken pieces for at least 30 minutes with the paste.
Lightly grease an indoor grill/skillet or frying pan or heat up an outdoor grill.
Thread the chicken pieces onto skewers. Keep brushing the chicken occasionally with olive oil or ghee for more moist finish.
Cook pieces with bones on medium low heat for 30 minutes and boneless pieces on medium heat for 10-12 minutes. The chicken should be nicely charred and cooked inside but still juicy not dry.
In the last couple of minutes, while the chicken is still on the grill, also place onions, tomatoes and green chilli peppers on the grill to get a little smoky flavour.
Serve hot with a squeeze of lemon with or without naan.