Chicken Tikka Pita

I didn’t discover the delicious mingling of flavors in the foods of India in the U.S. or even in India itself. It was during a trip to London that I encountered this wonderfully complex cuisine.

One local I met suggested to me that the dish Chicken Tikka should be declared the national dish of England, and this yogurt-spice marinated chicken was available at curry houses, pubs and even sandwich shops throughout England. Chicken Tikka was layered with lettuce, tomatoes and mayonnaise on baguette rolls at several sandwich counters I visited there.

The dish is a great way to introduce children to the flavors of Indian cuisine, and this is a favorite of my son and daughter. The traditional dish calls for marinating cubes of chicken breast meat, but I opt to marinate boneless, skinless chicken breast halves instead. I grill the chicken on my Viking-top or outdoor grill and serve on homemade naan bread or store-bought pitas. While the children like their Chicken Tikka Pita plain, I usually whip up a quick Cucumber-Jalapeno Raita to garnish the adults’ pitas.

  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
  • 1 cup plain yogurt
  • 1 2-inch piece ginger root, peeled and grated
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic, about 1 large clove
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 tablespoon ground coriander seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 4 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, about the juice of 2 small lemons
  • 4 whole wheat or regular pitas
  • Cucumber-Jalapeno Raita (see below), optional
Combine yogurt, grated ginger, garlic, seasonings and lemon juice in a zip-top plastic bag. Squeeze to combine. Add chicken, seal and marinate, refrigerated, overnight.

Preheat grill on high for 5 minutes. Reduce heat to medium and add the chicken. Grill approximately 7 minutes per side, until internal temperature reaches 160 degrees when checked with an instant-read thermometer.

Place on pitas and garnish with the Cucumber-Jalapeno Raita, if desired.

Cucumber-Jalapeno Raita

  • 1 cup plain yogurt
  • 1/2 hot house cucumber, diced
  • 3 green onions, chopped
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste

Combine all ingredients in a small bowl. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Makes 1 1/2 cups of Raita.