A week or so ago, I got a wonderful email from a fellow New Orleanian (is that a word?) who said she had seen some yummy looking tandoori chicken nuggets at Whole Foods and she wondered if I could try my hand at making some. Well, I ran right out to that very same Whole Foods, bought the chicken nuggets to taste them, and set to work making my own.
I think I achieved a pretty close replica! Neither nuggets (store bought or my own) are breaded, but if you prefer a breaded nugget, the marinade would make an excellent base to adhere some bread crumbs too. I thought about it, but in the end didn’t feel like breading would mix well with the tandoori flavor.
The tandoori spice mix that I used for this recipe was adapted from this recipe. Since most of the marinade is wiped off prior to baking, it wasn’t at all spicy. I wanted mine spicy, so next time I think I’ll sprinkle on a little bit more cayenne just before baking.
I baked the nuggets because that’s just what you do with nuggets, but realized later that it would have been much faster and easier to just toss them onto my George Foreman grill. They’d be a little bit flatter on the grill, but SO much less time and effort.
Oh, and in anticipation of these chicken bites being spicy (which they weren’t), I made a cooling raita dipping sauce to go along side. That will be posted later today!
Tandoori Chicken Bites
- 3 large chicken breasts $6.37
- ½ cup plain yogurt $0.27
- 1 Tbsp lemon juice $0.05
- 2 cloves garlic $0.16
- 1 inch fresh ginger $0.18
- ½ tsp salt $0.02
- ½ tsp coriander $0.03
- ½ tsp cumin $0.03
- ½ tsp turmeric $0.03
- ½ tsp cayenne pepper $0.03
- ½ Tbsp garam masala $0.08
- 1½ Tbsp paprika, divided $0.23
- Cut the chicken breasts into small chunks. I cut each breast into 3-4 strips lengthwise, and then each strip into 4-5 chunks to yield approximately 40 pieces. Place the chicken pieces in a large zip top bag.
- Add to the rest of the ingredients to the bag (yogurt, minced garlic, grated ginger, lemon juice, salt, coriander, cumin, turmeric, cayenne, garam masala, and ½ Tbsp of the paprika). Close the bag tightly and smoosh it around to mix the ingredients. Place the bag in the refrigerator for 2 to 24 hours to marinate.
- Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Cover a baking sheet with foil and spray with non-stick spray. Wipe the marinade from the chicken pieces and place them in a bowl. Sprinkle the last tablespoon of paprika and a pinch more of salt over the chicken pieces (add more cayenne if hot chicken pieces are desired). Toss to coat. The extra paprika here just helps the red color, you can skip it if desired. A little extra salt definitely helps, though.
- Place the chicken pieces on the prepared baking sheet, spaced out so they do not touch. Bake for 15 minutes in the fully preheated oven. Take the sheet out, turn each piece of chicken over, and bake for an additional 15 minutes. Serve warm.
Step By Step Photos
These are the store bought chicken nuggets. Pretty delish, but also pretty pricy. $5.99 for 2.5 servings of about 6 pieces each. Ouch.
It was slim pickins’ for chicken at the store this time around, so I saved some money by purchasing skin on, bone attached chicken breasts. Sure, part of the reason that it’s less expensive is because of the bone and skin, but with skinless/boneless chicken you are also paying a hefty fee for convenience. The skinless boneless breasts were *twice* the price per pound. Removing the skin is easy, it practically peels right off. The rib bones can be removed by just sliding a knife between the breast and bone. It may take a minute to figure it out if you’ve never done it, but it’s not nearly as confusing as say, deboning a pork shoulder.
Cut the chicken into small chunks. I got about 40 chunks out of mine. I first cut each breast into 3-4 strips lengthwise (depending on how big the breast was) and then cut each strip into 4-5 chunks.
Add the chicken chunks to a zip top bag and then add the yogurt, lemon juice, coriander, cumin, turmeric, cayenne, garam masala, salt, and 1/2 Tbsp of the paprika (I use the other tablespoon of paprika later).
Mince two cloves of garlic and add it to the bag. Peel and grate about one inch of fresh ginger into the bag.
Close up the bag, removing as much air as possible. Smoosh the bag all around to mix up the ingredients. Place the bag in the refrigerator and allow it to marinate for 2 hours to over night.
When you’re ready to make the chicken bites, preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Cover a baking sheet with foil and spray it with non-stick spray. Take each piece of chicken out of the marinade and wipe off the excess (I forgot to get a picture of this part…). Place them in a bowl and sprinkle on the last tablespoon of paprika and a pinch more of salt (and cayenne if you want it spicy). Place the chicken pieces on the baking sheet so that they are not touching. Bake for 15 minutes and then take them out and flip them over. This picture is after the first 15 minutes of baking.
Place the chicken back in the oven and bake for another 15 minutes. The liquid that comes off of the chicken as it bakes may look burned on the baking sheet, but the chicken itself will not be.
Stay tuned for the raita dipping sauce recipe later today!!