"Have you ever used your broiler?" I asked my co-worker Jessica yesterday afternoon. "Sure," she replied. "All the time." I asked her what she broils. "Chicken and stuff." I asked her how long she cooks the chicken. She couldn't remember.
I was asking because at home I had some chicken marinating in my refrigerator and the recipe, which comes from the Best-Ever Curry Cookbook by Mridula Baljekar, calls for the chicken to be broiled. Now, the broiler drawer at the bottom of my stove was a complete mystery to me. Never in my life have I used it, to cook anyway. I use it to store my cast iron grill pan. I'm not sure why, but broiling seems wierdly complicated. How far from the heat do I put the meat? Do I need to preheat it? Questions swirled in my head.
Once I got home, I called my mom to see if she could be of any help or had any tips. "Why are you calling?" she asked me. "Can't I just call my mom and say hi?" I replied. "You can, it's just that you never do." I reminded her that we spoke the day before. And the day before that. "That's because I called you." "Okay, fine," I admitted. "I have a question." I asked her about her broiling experience. Alas, it turned out that she didn't use her broiler either. Like mother, like son.
Next I turned to Annie. "Have you ever used your broiler?" I asked her. She told me she does. "What do you broil?" She told me she uses it for tuna melts and something she calls "crabbies" which are english muffins topped with, I believe, some sort of crab salad. Like my mother, she was of no help at all. I decided I would just figure it out myself and hope for the best.
While I was making my chicken skewers my mom called me back and told me that she had consulted an old cooking encyclopedia her mother had given her, probably in 1958. She said the meat should be any closer than 4 inches from the heat source. "So I'm supposed to get down there with a tape measure and measure it?" I asked. "I don't think so." She went on to say that this little cooking encyclopedia was full of helpful hints and good recipes. "There's a recipe in here for home-made chicken stock made with chicken feet," she told me. "Okay, I have to go," I told her, cutting her off before she could any further chicken foot related detail.
1 pound skinless chicken breast fillets, cubed
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, minced
3 or 4 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon chilli powder
1/4 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup plain yogurt
4 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro
In a large bowl, mix the chicken, ginger, garlic, chilli powder, turmeric, salt, yogurt, lemon juice and cilantro. Leave to marinate in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours or up to 24 hours. Thread the chicken onto wooden skewers and place on a baking sheet covered in foil.
Place the chicken under a broiler and cook 8 to 10 minutes. Turn each skewer, spoon a little more of the yogurt marinade over the chicken and cook for an additional 5 to 8 minutes.
How cool looking is that? I love the reflection of the blue flames in the tin foil.
Remove the chicken from the broiler and serve scattered with cilantro and accompanied with lime wedges.
So in the end I think I love the broiler. I love that you can just stick food in a drawer, close it and a few minutes later it comes out cooked. I should note, however, that since this was my first time using the broiler, I over-cooked the chicken by about 2 minutes. I think I was preoccupied with trying to get those cool looking charred edges on the chicken and in the end some of the pieces wound up just slightly dry. Just slightly. Next time I'll know. The cooking time I have noted in the recipe is how long I would broil them next time, although keep in mind that every stove is different, so you should just keep an eye on it.
As far as the chicken's flavor goes, it was really nice. Spiced by not firey. Unlike various kormas, vindaloos and what-have-yous, this is not a saucy Indian dish. It is traditionally served with slices of onion and lime wedges. I didn't bother with the onion, but the lime works well with the cilantro. I served the chicken on a bed of basmati rice and accompanied by some Curried Cauliflower with Chickpeas and Tomatoes.
Serves 4 to 6