So, are you feeling the fall weather yet? This weekend, felt a little ahead of this times though, let us hope we can recreate the spirit for Halloween. In keeping with the auburn/orange colors of the season, I shall introduce you to an orange hued spice blend. We are talking about none other than the ever popular, tandoori masala, a spice blend used for marinating and grilling tandoori chicken or chicken tikka. Well, I have two pieces of news for you, first of, this spice blend I actually do not make from the scratch, so we shall be talking about spice brands and secondly, the recipe here will show you an unusual and very simple use of the spice blend. Yes, today’s pulled chicken pretty much cooks itself without much fuss in the slow cooker.
I love the slow cooker and like to use it, in non-traditional dishes. Well, I normally think of slow cooker food as being soups and stews, but with some creativity the slow cooker can be used for a lot more than just that. Take for example, this bean dip that I shared with you earlier in the year. Tandoori Masala is popular enough to be available at specialty stores like Whole Foods Market and can be found in the Penzey’s catalogue. However, if you visit some local Indian spice stores, you shall see brands such as SWAD, MDH and Rajah to name a few. So, the question is which one is the best, interestingly enough, I tend to use SWAD for a lot of beans and lentils and whole spices. I do not use too many spice blends, so I really cannot do a brand by brand comparision here. However, these seem to be the popular hits with my friends. With tandoori masala, its different, I stick to Rajah for a simple reason, it was the first brand my aunt introduced me to over 2 decades ago, and I like their package.
The vivid color of this orange spice however, is from food color. This is why the, color tone here will vary between red to orange depending on the spice maker’s fancy. Ironically enough, this labeling called natural colored really refers to the orangish tint of this particular brand rather than the lack of use of artificial color.
What you will see, is that the base for my recipe does have quite a few ingredients, however that is the beauty of the slow cooker, we just mix them all together and let it cook. The very same recipe can be cooked for 2 hours less and be served as a whole pot/slow cooker roasted chicken possibly with rice or even store bought flatbreads. However, cook it longer if you want the smooth pull apart texture of pulled chicken. BTW , this pulled chicken once complete is very versatile, I made half of it into a completely different dish for this weekend’s dinner and it can certainly be used for simple chicken salad, with overtones of curry!
So, essentially you will get two recipes for one post out of this one, and several possibilities.
Citrus and Tandoori Slow Cooked Chicken
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 5 hours on high in a slow cooker
3/4 cup whole yogurt
1 tablespoon tandoori masala
4 pods garlic cloves
2 green chilies
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1/3 cup tomato ketchup
2 fresh tomatoes, cut in half
11/2 teaspoons sumac
1 whole chicken, about 3 to 4 pounds
2 limes, thinly sliced
1 clementine thinly sliced
Method of Preparation
1. Place the yogurt, tandoori masala, garlic cloves, ginger, green chilies, maple syrup, tomato ketchup, tomatoes and the sumac in a blender.
2. Blend until very smooth.
3. Place the chicken in the slow cooker, and pour the prepared spice mixture around it, mixing lightly to let the mixture into the cavities.
4. Let the chicken begin cooking on high, I use a 6 hour setting for this version and 4 hours, if I want just a whole slow cooked chicken, to serve with rice.
5. After about 2 hours when the mixture is simmering briskly, spoon some of the sauce over the chicken and add in the citrus rings.
6. Cook the chicken for another 3 hours, by now the citrus should be disolved into the mixture and the chicken should be very soft.
7. Turn off the cook and let the chicken rest.
8. After some time, gently pull and shred the chicken, discarding the bones.
9. Place on a skillet and add about 11/2 cups of the sauce and cook the chicken until the chicken is well shredded and the sauce is absorbed.
For the open sliders
10-12 slider halves or any other flat breads (I like to use bagel crisps)
1 cucumber, thinly sliced
Red onion, thinly sliced and ringed
Finely chopped cilantro
1. Place the bread or flat bread, top this with a slice of cucumber and place some of shredded chicken over it.
2. Top with onion slices and chopped cilantro.
3. Serve at room temperature.