The all day shift worker,Greek yoghurt

I honestly can’t remember the last time my fridge was yogurt-less.I never have enough yoghurt in my fridge to fulfil the cooks needs.
Over the last two months as I hunkered down,Greek yoghurt has been one of the hardest working ingredients in my fridge.It is the sort of staple that can bounce between sweet and savoury recipes without batting an eyelid.This all day shift worker provides me a service  24 hours a day ,seven days a week. 
This is the perfect example of where a migrant ingredient could work wonders in a British kitchen where Billy No Mates would have been too lazy to even be considered for the job.
The early morning shift covers a breakfast topping for my granola and fruit or when I´m in the fitness frame of mind,a smoothie.During the midday shift I can put it to good use in a potato salad or dressing for a porky pitta pocket or other sandwich filling.While the all day or overnight shift can be employed in any number of marinades.
In this fool-proof recipe for never-dry chicken breasts, Greek yogurt works double-duty—both as a marinade and a salad dressing.
I have always liked this recipe,not just for the aromatic spicing,but for its convenience.This is one of those recipes you end up blessing for the fact that it is better prepared in advance.The last minute activity involves nothing more than putting the dish in the oven chopping a bit of garnish and making a salad or cooking some rice.All you have to do really is make a marinade that is not so much hot as imbued with an earthy warmth.
The yogurt-based marinade gives it its mild temperature from ground coriander, turmeric and cumin, with a pinch of ground cayenne. The result is on the lower reaches of the heat scale, yet the smell from the oven as it is cooking, the spiced yogurt forming a light crust around the meat, always brings a smile to my face.
Frango Elaichi Jirey Mirey malai masala
(Chicken baked with peppercorns cardamom and other spices )
This is a Goan Speciality and a real tongue tingler. Jirey means cumin, Mirey means black peppercorns and Elaichi is Caradamom. Malai means cream and this is exactly how the meat turns out too, rich and creamy.

4 large,free range chicken breasts
250ml home made or good quality greek yoghurt

For the masala
the seeds of 6 green cardamom pods

1 teaspoon black peppercorns
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
2 heaped teaspoons coriander seeds
2 teaspoons water
2 teaspoons flor de sal
thumb-sized piece of ginger
3 garlic cloves
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
a cinnamon stick
large bunch of coriander and mint leaves
Put the whole peppercorns,the cardamom cuminand coriander seeds in apestle and mortar and grind them to a fine powder. The true goan tradition would have specified roasting the spices first, but I have taken a short cut at no expense to the finished dish.Put the water into a food processor, then add the salt, the peeled and choppped ginger, peeled garlic, the cayenne, vinegar and finally the ground spices. Blitz to a smoothish paste.
Put the yoghurt in a bowl large enough to take the chicken breasts and stir in the spice paste. Add the chicken breasts and make sure the masala covers it completely. Break the cinnamon stick in half and and add it to the masala. Cover with clingfilm and leave to marinade for a minimum of 2 hours, but ideally overnight.Set the oven to 220C / gas mark 9. Transfer the chicken and masala to a shallow oven proof dish. Bake for 30 minutes until the chicken is cooked through and the yoghurt has a golden dark brown crust. Scatter with
leaves and mix the rest of the leaves into an accompanying rice dish.
Try making your yoghurt work a double shift as I have done here.Having marinaded the chicken I employed more yoghurt to make a dressing for an Indian style cucumber salad on the side.Often, cucumbers get tossed with sour cream or créme fraîche or Greek yogurt as a dressing.Its a sort of embellished  raita.
Indian-style cucumber salad (pictured above)

1 long cucumber
1 medium red onion, diced
an assortment of mixed cherry tomatoes,some halved
handful fresh coriander leaves, chopped
1 red chilli, deseeded and diced
1 green chilli, deseeded and diced
2 limes, juiced
15ml (1 tbsp) vegetable oil
3 tbsp roasted peanuts, chopped

For the dressing 
One 100g pot greek yoghurt
¼ tsp chilli powder
¼ tsp ground cumin

Peel the cucumber, remove the seeds with a teaspoon, then cut into slices.
Put the cucumber slices into a bowl. Add the onion, tomatoes, coriander, red and green chillies, lime juice, vegetable oil and chopped peanuts. Toss together.Mix the cumin and chilli powder together in a bowl with the yoghurt
Spoon the yoghurt dressing over the top.Serve with pappadoms.


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