Baked Tandoori Chicken and Vegetable Pilaf. Make this dish super simple by cooking the pilaf in the rice cooker.
I have a confession:
I coveted my neighbour’s rice cooker.
I was, in fact, supposed to be there envying her new Thermomix.
And while the Thermomix is pretty swish, it was the unassuming rice cooker, sitting in a dark corner of the kitchen, quietly cooking away perfect rice, that caught my interest.
I never got rice cookers before that moment. Why buy another appliance when you can just boil rice on the stove?
But while the rice cooker was forgotten amidst the flashy buttons and functions of the Thermomix, we still sat down to perfect rice with our meal.
No burnt pot. No boiling over. No watching. No stirring.
Now a rice cooker can’t slice and dice, it can’t crush nuts, knead dough or make sorbet in a single minute, but it can cook perfect rice effortlessly.
And surprisingly, a whole range of other foods.
With fewer zeros after the dollar sign.
In fact, I got my basic rice cooker for under $30. And the basic one has all the functionality needed.
So, while the Thermomix seemed to steal the limelight, it was the rice cooker I ended up having a secret love-affair with.
Cooking Baked Tandoori Chicken and Rice-Cooker Vegetable Pilaf
First things first, you DON’T NEED A RICE COOKER to make this dish. It works just as well in a pan on the stove. The rice cooker makes things easier but isn’t necessary.
Throw the chicken in the oven.
Put the rice in the rice cooker.
Pour a glass of wine and relax…
Who am I kidding?
Fold the washing, help the kids with the homework, prep tomorrow’s lunchboxes and look for hubby’s keys.
One can dream, at least.
Either way, it’s an easy dish to prepare and cook.
Prep the Vegetables
You can add any vegetables you like to this dish, but the main ones are carrot and peas. I add zucchini when I have it – capsicum, baby spinach and corn would be other great additions.
Cut up the vegetables into bite-size pieces before you start cooking the chicken. That way everything will be cooked and ready at the same time.
You can save time on the night by pre-cutting the vegetables – in the morning, the night before or during your weekly food prep session. Store the cut vegetables in a container in the fridge.
To avoid chopping vegetables altogether use frozen vegetables and add them at the point in the recipe where it says to add the frozen peas.
Prep and Cook the Chicken
To marinate the chicken, mix together the yoghurt and the tandoori paste in a bowl and then mix in the chicken. One tablespoon of tandoori paste for a less spicy flavour, two for a full flavour. The chicken can be marinated right before you cook, in the morning or the day before.
Double or triple the recipe and then freeze the extra in batches. This makes meal planning cheap and easy.
If you’re cooking for one or two, you can marinate all the chicken according to the recipe and then freeze the excess in portions for later.
To cook, preheat the oven to 180°C, place the chicken on a tray, throw it in the oven, set the timer and that’s dinner half done. For black crispy bits, turn up the temperature to around 200°C and cook for less time.
If you don’t have an oven, the chicken can be cooked in a frying pan. Be warned though – it splatters and is messy!
Check that the chicken is cooked through by slicing into the thickest part of the meat. No pink means cooked.
Cook the Pilaf
While the rice is mostly self-cooking, you’ll need to spend 5 minutes sweating the onions and vegetables.
To cook the pilaf, switch the rice cooker to ‘cook’, add the oil and let it warm up. You may need to leave the lid on at this point to weigh the bowl down enough to cook.
Then add your vegetables and let them sweat. 3 minutes.
Stir in the spices and ginger and cook. 1 minute.
Then stir in the rice, coating it in the flavoured oil. 1 minute.
Finally, stir in the stock, peas, salt to taste. Put the lid on, check that the rice cooker is on ‘cook’ and the rice cooker will do the rest. While you rest. Smelling the mingling aromas of cardamon and tandoori flavours.
Once the rice cook clicks over to ‘warm’ the pilaf is done. Give the rice a stir to fluff it up and then serve.
Serve topped with the sliced chicken and a scattering of slivered almonds.
The almonds, by the way, are optional but they really make the dish. They give the rice a delicious texture and crunch.
Baked Tandoori Chicken with Vegetable Pilaf
4 Chicken thighs or breasts, no skin
1/2 cup plain natural or Greek yoghurt
1-2 Tbsp. tandoori paste
1 Tbsp. of preferred cooking oil
1/2 – 1 onion, diced
1 carrot, diced
1 zucchini, diced
2cm of ginger, grated*
1 cinnamon stick
4 cardamom pods, crushed slightly
1 tsp. cumin seeds
1 1/2 cups basmati rice**
2 cups of chicken or vegetable stock
1 cup of frozen peas
toasted slivered almonds to serve (optional but delicious)
coriander/cilantro leaves to serve (optional)
*If you’re using ginger in a jar, use 2 teaspoons or to taste.
** You can use any rice, really. Rinse beforehand if preferred.
- Mix together the yoghurt and tandoori paste in a bowl. Add chicken to coat and set aside.
- Preheat oven to 180°C. Place chicken on a tray and cook in the oven for 40 minutes or until cooked through. Test by slicing in the thickest part of the meat.
- Meanwhile, put the rice cooker on ‘cook’ add a little oil along with the onions, carrots and zucchini and sweat for a couple of minutes.
- Add the spices and ginger, stir and cook for a further 2 minutes. Stir in the rice and let it absorb the flavour of the spices.
- Stir in the stock, peas and a little salt. Cover with the lid. Make sure your rice cooker is still set to ‘cook’ and then leave it to cook the pilaf. It will take around 20 minutes but the exact time will depend on your rice cooker.
- Once the rice cooker clicks over to ‘warm’ give the pilaf a stir to fluff up. It can sit on warm for a while.
- Slice the chicken once cooked and serve on the pilaf sprinkled with almonds and coriander.
Melissa Goodwin is a writer and the creator of Frugal and Thriving who has a passion for living frugally and encouraging people to thrive on any budget. The blog is nine years old and is almost like her eldest baby. Prior to being a blogger and mum (but not a mummy blogger), she worked as an accountant doing other people’s budgets, books and tax.