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Food and Film, an Oscar Celebration: Gandhi and Tandoori Chicken

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The Oscar's, or Academy Awards, have become an international yearly tradition for film fans the world over. Millions of people look forward to the one day of the year when a gold plated little naked bald man takes over the media universe. Whether you love or hate the choices of the academy members, the fact-of-the-matter is, the Oscar's are a cause for celebration -- and what better way to celebrate than with food! This year we'll celebrate with some great food from the films which have taken home the Oscar for Best Picture.

Gandhi (Best Picture, 1982): First of all, if you have never seen this epic film you should run to a video store, log-on to Netflix or stop by Redbox and get it. It is simply a beautiful piece of filmmaking and gives new meaning to the term "cinematic art." The cast is superb, the acting incredible and the cinematography, at times, literally breathtaking. And of course the subject of the film, Gandhi, was a man that if we all studied and learned about today, might actually make this world a little better place to live.

One of the most famous dishes to ever come out of India is Tandoori Chicken. In most cases you can never have actual Tandoori Chicken outside of India as there is a special oven, called a Tandoori Oven, which this chicken is prepared in. An actual Tandoori oven is a clay oven that can withstand unreal degrees of heat. As a matter-of-fact, the way the Tandoori Chicken is prepared in these oven is that it is slapped against the oven until it is cooked, that is how hot these ovens get!

When in India, I found it amazing to watch how actual Tandoori Chicken was prepared. When I was asked if I wanted to prepare one, to be honest, I was slightly scared. I had to put my hand in an oven which was, almost literally, hotter than hell! Indian Chef's are simply magical people. They are always smiling, always laughing and, lucky for me, always putting food in front of you.

This recipe for Tandoori Chicken is in no way authentic. It is adapted for the American kitchen but one thing that is authentic is the food coloring in the recipe. In India they color the chicken with natural coloring (not food color as American's know it). When I showed my adaptation to a few Indian Chef's, they grinned and then nodded their seal of approval.

Ingredients needed to make Tandoori Chicken (serves 4):

  • 1 chicken, cut into serving pieces
  • 1 cup plain yogurt
  • 1 Tbs. tandoori masala (available in the spice section of many supermarkets)
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. garam masala (available in the spice section of many supermarkets)
  • 4 drops red food coloring

Steps:

  1. With a sharp paring knife, make various slashes into each piece of chicken.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the remaining ingredients.
  3. Place the chicken in a non-metallic shallow baking dish. Pour the yogurt mixture over the chicken and then turn the chicken to coat.
  4. Cover the dish and chill 4 hours.
  5. Pre-heat your oven to 375 degrees.
  6. Remove the chicken from the yogurt mixture and place on a baking pan.
  7. Place the chicken in the oven and cook 45 minutes.
  8. Remove from the oven and let cool about 10 minutes before serving.

The internationally bestselling cookbook from Chef Larry Edwards, "Edwardian Cooking: 80 Recipes Inspired by Downton Abbey's Elegant Meals," is now in it's third printing and available worldwide in both hard cover and e-book versions. The paperback version will be released March 4, 2014.

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