Thursday, April 15, 2010

Panini with an Indian twist - Tandoori Chicken N Cheese Panini

Panini is Italian for sandwich. Here, in the US, Panini is generally associated with a grilled sandwich with gorgeous grill marks. As I was writing this post, I was reminded of the delicious Paninis we had while vacationing in Montreal, Canada. The one that I loved the most was a simple sun- dried tomato, spinach and fresh mozzarella grilled Panini on ciabatta bread...yum.
When I read about Panini Happy's '2nd Annual Grilled Cheese Pageant' , I knew I was in. I wanted to make a sandwich with an Indian twist. There were several combinations that came to my mind but I settled for this Tandoori Chicken N Cheese Panini. What can I say about Tandoori Chicken? Anyone who has been to an Indian Restuarant must have surely tasted the famous sizzling Tandoori Chicken. Tandoori chicken to a non –vegetarian Indian is what barbeque chicken is to an American. This is a spicy roasted chicken traditionally made in a earthen clay oven called 'Tandoor'. The chicken is marinated for several hours in a spicy yogurt sauce and then grilled to perfection.
Coming back to the Panini, I shredded the tandoori chicken and added some mint chutney and grilled onions and bell peppers to the sandwich for more flavor. The mint chutney goes very well with the tender and juicy tandoori chicken. I served the Panini with some mint mayo (1 tbsp mint chutney +2 tbsp mayonaise) and a refreshing cucumber- onion- tomato relish. These paninis were awesome!

Ingredients -
For Panini -
2 slices white sandwich bread
1/2 cup shredded Tandoori Chicken
Grilled onions
Grilled green bell pepper
Mint chutney
Shredded Mexican 4- cheese or any cheese of your choice

For Mint Chutney -
1 cup chopped cilantro
10-12 mint leaves
1 clove garlic
1 inch piece ginger
1-2 green chillies
1 small onion chopped
1 tbsp lemon/ lime juice
salt to taste

Method -
For Mint Chutney -
Blend all the ingredients in a blender or food processor into a smooth paste.

To assemble the Panini -
1. Spread some butter on two bread slices on both sides. Apply a generous layer of mint chutney on both the slices
2. Now add a layer of shredded tandoori chicken and some grilled onions and peppers on one slice.
3. Spread some grated cheese and top with the other bread slice.
4. Grill the paninis on a hot skillet/ pan on both sides till golden brown. I have used a traditional Khakra (Indian toasted bread) press to grill the panini and it worked out great.

Check out Kathy's Panini 101 - Secrets to making great Panini

Cucumber- Onion- Tomato Relish -
In a bowl add some chopped onions, tomatoes, cucumbers. Then add some salt, pepper, lime juice and chopped cilantro. Mix well. Serve chilled.

                                 TANDOORI CHICKEN

This is my entry for Panini happy's '2nd Annual Grilled Cheese Pageant'

Tandoori Chicken

This is a spicy roasted chicken traditionally made in a earthen clay oven called 'Tandoor'. The chicken is marinated for several hours in a spicy yogurt sauce and then grilled to perfection.

Ingredients -
2 lbs whole chicken
1 tablespoon ginger paste
1 tablespoon garlic paste
2 tsp turmeric powder
3 tbsp vinegar
10 tbsps thick yogurt
salt to taste
TANDOORI MASALA - Use store bought tandoori masala or the ingredients below
2 tsp red chilli powder
1 tsp garam masala
2 tsp cumin- coriander powder
1 tsp black pepper powder
1/2 tsp red food color (optional)

Method -
1. Cut the chicken into 4-6 big pieces and make incisions on them with a sharp knife.
2. Apply salt, turmeric powder and vinegar to the chicken.
3. In a bowl mix together yogurt, ginger paste, garlic paste, tandoori masala or (garam masala powder, cumin- coriander powder, pepper powder, red food color) and salt
4. Rub this mixture over the chicken and marinate for 6 -8 hours in the refrigerator.
5. There are several ways to cook the chicken
#1. Skew the chicken onto a skewer and cook in a moderately hot tandoor
#2. Skew the chicken onto skewers or arrange the chicken on a baking sheet and grill in a preheated oven on high. Grill the chicken on both sides @ 10 minutes each side or until done (you should see some black grill marks on the chicken).
#3. Cook chicken in a pan on the gas stove on low heat. This method takes longer to cook. The chicken can be grilled later in the oven for 5 minutes for the smokey flavor.