The auspicious days Navratri Puja or Durga Puja are about to begin from Wednesday and the thought of abstaining from non-vegetarian food for these eight days is hard hitting for my hubby and daughter!! The anticipation of not being able to eat their favourite food (chicken/ fish) propels them into an overdrive of non-veg consumption. So the few days before and after Navratri Puja are ‘feast’ (read non-veg. food) days at our home J which means that I have to keep dishing out food that is different so as to provide them with a variety. Now, why the feast days before and after Navratri Puja – before, because they will not be eating non veg food for the next eight days and after, because they had not eaten non veg food for the past eight days!! J


This time however, with my hubby travelling abroad for work , leaves just my daughter and me. Since I am not a very avid fan of non-veg food, I find it sheer wastage of my energy and time in preparing masala/gravy chicken or fish for just two people. Actually I am somewhat lazy and try to look for shortcutsnow that does not mean that I compromise on taste or flavours. It’s just that preparing chicken gravy dish for just two looks like too much work – chopping, grating, frying and searing which takes time…not worth!

Chicken breasts were lying in the freezer to be transformed into chilli chicken but I had changed my plans and decided to make tikka. Actually when my husband travels, I experiment and try out different dishes and forms of cooking. If the experiments are successful, I introduce them to my hubby, the failures remain a closely guarded secret!! J
I had been carrying this impression that making tikkas or kebabs at home must be cumbersome or requires special cooking skills but this time around when I decided to try them at home, all my misconceptions when poof!!

I have a fondness for saffron. I love its flavours and the subtlety that it lends to the dishes. So the addition of saffron in the chicken tikka was obvious! The subtle hint of saffron along with the ground spices resulted in exquisite flavours that playfully teased the palette. These tikkas will never fail to impress your guests. I served these tikkas with Bakarkhani or Baqerkhani.
So experience the royal flavours of the Mughal cuisine. J

You can experiment with the amount of ingredients that you want to add to the marination. Here is my ratio:

350 grams Chicken Breasts (cubed approx. in 1 inch pieces)
2 tbsp hung curd (I hung the curd for approximately an hour & a half)
½ inch cinnamon stick
1 black cardamom seeds (I used only half the amount of its seeds)
2 green cardamom seeds
5 cloves
2-3 green chillies
½ tsp garlic paste
½ tsp ginger paste
8-10 white pepper corns
A pinch of saffron
2 tsp milk
Salt to taste
9-10 skewers
For Marination:

Soak saffron in warm milk for 15 to 20 minutes.
In the meantime, dry roast the cinnamon stick, black cardamom seeds, green cardamom seeds, pepper corns and cloves. Pound them to a powder (not very fine).
In a mortar and pestle grind the green chillies to a paste. (Using a pinch of coarse salt will help)
Mix all the ingredients together and your marinade is ready.
Ensure that you pat dry the chicken cubes.
Transfer the chicken in a bowl
Add the marinade to the chicken cubes and mix it well so that all pieces are well coated.
Cover the bowl with a cling film and put it in the refrigerator.
Leave the chicken to marinate over-night. (I marinated for almost 18 hours and the result was moist and tender chicken tikkas)

For Grilling:
I grilled these tikkas in my non-stick grill pan. Using a non-stick pan helped me keep the amount of oil to minimal.
Soak the skewers in water for at least half an hour before you intend to serve them.
Now take the skewers and start skewering the chicken pieces on them. I leave a little space in between the chicken pieces; else they stick together and do not get cooked well. (Perhaps the reason could be pan grilling)
Keep the skewers ready and then heat the pan (medium hot).
You can use an oil spray or pour a little oil using a spoon in a linear fashion across the grill pan.
Place the skewers over the oiled pan and grill them on medium low heat.
It will take approximately 45 seconds to a minute for one side to get cooked.
Then turn around and cook the other side the same way.

Serve them hot as a starter or as a main course with Bakarkhani!! Bon appétit!!


Serves 3-4


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