Cooking Candidate Creations: Naghmana Sherazi's Chicken tikka with green chutney raita

click to enlarge Chicken tikka with a green chutney raita - DANIEL WALTERS PHOTO
Daniel Walters photo
Chicken tikka with a green chutney raita
Food may be the one thing in this angry and broken world that still brings us together.

I think everything you write is trash, more than one partisan has told me, but those cooking photos you post on Facebook look incredible.

And so, it's appropriate that last week's story on Jonathan Bingle vs. Naghmana Sherazi underscored that theme. The article starts out showing how dramatically different Bingle and Sherazi are, in both politics and biography.

Yet their different faiths drove them both to show kindness to each other, showing that friendship can transcend political differences. Bingle brought groceries to Sherazi early on during the pandemic when she was worried that grocery shopping would put her immunocompromised son at risk. And Sherazi returned the favor: When Bingle's wife gave birth, Sherazi cooked their family multiple meals.


"I basically told Naghmana, 'Hey, let's open a Pakistani restaurant,'" Bingle says. "I want nothing to do with it. I'll just fund it. You just cook the food! It was really, really delicious and I really enjoyed it."

Sherazi proved how delicious her cooking is by sharing a Pakistani omelet breakfast with me at her apartment during our interview for that election story. Cooking, she knows firsthand, is a wonderful way to greet someone.

"I have a good relationship with all my neighbors," Sherazi told me. "At 6:30, 7 in the morning, when I hear people moving around, I send them food. That's the first thing I do. I send them breakfast." 

When I told her I wanted to have all four city council candidates in competitive races share one of their favorite recipes, Sherazi didn't have to go leafing through a cookbook.

Instead, she just unspooled the entire recipe from memory. I gave it a shot last Friday, and now you can too! Expect recipes from Bingle and the other two candidates — Zack Zappone and Mike Lish — in the coming days. 


click to enlarge Chicken tikka with a green chutney raita - DANIEL WALTERS PHOTO
Daniel Walters photo
Chicken tikka with a green chutney raita

GRILLED CHICKEN TIKKA
INGREDIENTS

Six chicken leg quarters

1 teaspoon of salt
1 cup of yogurt
1 teaspoon ginger, minced
1 teaspoon garlic, minced
1 to 3 teaspoons of cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon salt
2 to 3 tablespoons of lemon juice

1 to 2 sticks of melted butter for basting


1. "Take, say, six leg-quarters of chicken. I like the leg quarters because they are fattier so they cook better. Chicken breasts are very powdery if you overcook them. Skin them."

2. "Don't poke them with a fork, but actually make a couple of cuts on the top, on the dense part on the thigh and the actual drumsticks. Just up to the bone. It doesn't have to be across all the way — just cuts, so that when it's cooking and marinating, the marination goes into it."

3. "Then you make the marinade. Take [a cup] of low-fat — nonfat, full-fat, it doesn't matter what kind, but it has to be plain — yogurt. Put in one teaspoon of minced ginger and garlic. Add a teaspoon of salt. Add a teaspoon-ish, depending on how spicy you like your food, of cayenne pepper or red chili powder and a couple of tablespoons of lemon juice."

4. "Mix it all together."

5. "
Now put [the chicken] in a big bowl and pour all your marinade over it. With your hands make sure that it gets into every nook and cranny, every surface, every cut."


6. "Leave it to marinate. I've marinated it for an hour. My mother always used to like to marinate it overnight in the fridge. Keep it covered."

7. "I use a gas grill. You can do it on a charcoal grill. Clean the grill with an onion so it's nicely caramelized and with a little bit of oil."

8. "Once it's hot, you put your leg quarters on the grill. Once you've got those on the grill, leave it until you can tell that it's starting to get really firm on the underside. First, you baste them with melted butter [using a brush] and then you flip them over."

9. "
As soon as you flip them over, baste the side without any butter on it. You flip it over a couple of times. Every time you flip it over you have to baste it with the butter. I flip it over every three to five minutes, for 20 minutes to 25 minutes. When it's ready, you can tell — the meat kind of separates a little bit and you can see the bone."

Serve with white rice, paratha or naan bread, and top it with green chutney raita.


GREEN CHUTNEY RAITA

INGREDIENTS
1 handful of mint leaves, cleaned.
1 handful of cilantro leaves, cleaned.
1 jalapeño roughly chopped
a couple of garlic cloves, chopped
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon salt
Some plain yogurt

1. First, gather your chutney ingredients: "Mint, cilantro, jalapeño, garlic, a little bit of cumin and salt."

2. Purée the chutney until smooth: "I just use my food processor."

3. Combine it with plain yogurt to make a raita. "I add a couple of tablespoons of it to my yogurt and mix it together."

4. Feel free to make it your own: Experiment with the quantity of each ingredient.  Add some extra water until you think the consistency is right. Try mixing in some chopped onions or some cumin seeds.


click to enlarge Chicken tikka with a green chutney raita - DANIEL WALTERS PHOTO
Daniel Walters photo
Chicken tikka with a green chutney raita

HOW I SCREWED IT UP A BIT

Sure, I couldn't find chicken-leg quarters anywhere. Fortunately, thanks to my expert knowledge of chicken anatomy I know that one (1) chicken thigh + one (1) chicken drumstick = 1 chicken leg. Six drumsticks and six thighs and my problem was solved.

The bigger problem was this: I'm no grill master. That explains a lot right there. I had to seek out a grill elsewhere and I wasn't exactly sure what I was doing. You know that step about oiling the grill? Totally forgot. When the time came to flip it the first time, I left heartbreaking strips of marinated chicken seared onto the grill.

And every time I went to baste the chicken with melted butter, gouts of flame roared up to punish me for my hubris, charring the chicken. By the end of it, I'd probably overcooked most of the chicken. But here's the good news about bone-in drumsticks and thighs: They forgive your mistakes. Where chicken breast is merciless, turning rapidly from raw to juicy to rubbery to concrete, chicken thighs are patient and generous, waiting for dozens of extra minutes in the oven or on the grill, without ever once complaining.

WHAT WENT BETTER THAN I EXPECTED

I couldn't quite decide how much yogurt to put in with the chutney to make the raita. I mixed a couple spoonfuls of chutney with about the same amount of yogurt, but I wasn't quite sure if I'd nailed it. Instead, I compromised, drizzling the yogurt-heavy raita on the chicken, rice, and naan bread, but then dropping dollops of the unadulterated chutney on top of the raita. The result? I'm hit with two very different flavors singing in harmony: The cool, herby yogurt, and the sinus-clearing garlic-heavy intensity of the chutney. And that's before I bit into the chicken.

Delicious dish. And if a grilling amateur like me can cook it, you can too.     

Editor's note: This story was updated Oct. 28 to correct the name spelling of Zack Zappone.

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About The Author

Daniel Walters

A lifelong Spokane native, Daniel Walters is the Inlander's senior investigative reporter. But he also reports on a wide swath of other topics, including business, education, real estate development, land use, and other stories throughout North Idaho and Spokane County.He's reported on deep flaws in the Washington...