Grilling up a chicken tikka pita taco
Small bites packed with big flavour
As an executive chef for the Fairmont group of hotels, Chef Mridul Bhatt has cooked elegant cuisine around the world, finally landing in 2017 at Edmonton's Fairmont Hotel Macdonald.
The spark that ignited his passion for food came from something that many young boys can relate to — a desire to be like his dad.
"He always loved baking and experimenting in the kitchen and I always wanted to be just like him," said Bhatt, adding that his dad was the main cook in the family, something he always admired.
Though he appreciated his dad's skills and creativity in the kitchen, it was another trait that finally pushed the chef into giving cooking a try.
"He always had such a calm demeanour and was a genuinely happy man, which I felt came from his hobby of cooking."
Those qualities were in contrast to the rambunctious behaviour he displayed in his youth, and the younger Bhatt decided that cooking might bring out those qualities in himself.
Obviously it worked, as the chef methodically goes about his business with a quiet confidence that many chefs would love to achieve.
As for cooking at home, Bhatt loves the sense of freedom that comes from being inspired by how he is feeling on any particular day.
"With home cooking, you are simply creating along the way and the excitement comes from not knowing exactly what your finished product will be. An artist starts each art piece with the same canvas, colours, and tools, yet each time, they end up with a beautiful piece of art unique to the previous one."
This comes through in the recipe he prepared for us — chicken tikka pita tacos. This recipe draws inspiration from Indian and Greek cuisine, and has been one of Bhatt's favourites for years.
The key is to use fresh spices and let the chicken marinate at least four hours or, for even better results, overnight. The avocado crema adds a pleasant tanginess against the flavourful grilled chicken.
For Bhatt, this dish embodies everything home cooking should be: Simple enough for any skill level, delicious and comforting enough to satisfy any hunger, it allows you to add some creative flair of your own.
Chicken tikka pita tacos
Chicken tikka (makes 3 tacos)
- 250 grams boneless chicken leg
- 2 tablespoons Greek yogurt
- 30 millilitres vegetable oil
- 2 teaspoons red chili powder
- ½ teaspoon minced garlic
- ½ teaspoon cumin powder
- 1/3 teaspoon fenugreek powder
- 5 millilitres lemon juice
- salt, to taste
- 3 small pita bread
- 5 grams pickled red onions
- 1 tablespoon avocado cream
- 1 teaspoon feta cheese
Mix all the ingredients of chicken tikka in a mixing bowl. Using a whisk form a smooth paste.
Combine chicken with the marinade and allow it to sit in refrigerator for at least four hours.
Cook the chicken tikka over barbecue at moderate temperature for five to six minutes, or bake it in the oven at 390 degree for seven minutes.
Warm pita over the grill and assemble pita taco. Top with avocado cream, pickled onions, cilantro and cooked chicken tikka.