It's time for another Weeknight Dinner for the Working Woman (or Man). I'm telling the hubster it's because eating at home is healthier and better but in reality, I'm saving our eating out allowance for this. Shhh. Note that these dinner leftovers make the perfect bagged lunch the next day and will save you from eating at mediocre lunch joints. See, at least once a week, a coworker will ask me if I want to go to a Chat Cafe type of restaurant. I say "type of restaurant" because you know your city has one. You may even be guilty of frequenting said restaurant. Cheesy orange painted walls plastered with Bollywood posters anyone? Said coworker strikes when I'm frantically typing the final sentences of my brief, calling a client, and unsuccessfully trying to download a PDF document on my computer. At that moment, I'll likely say yes to anything just to get the person out of my office. Oh, that reminds me. Coworker X, you can't have my new shoes. It ain't cool to ask when you know I'm vulnerable. Next thing I know, you'll be wanting a kidney (and yeah, even if I say yes, I mean no).
So, back to lunch. Inevitably, come noon, I find myself staring at said lunch joint's menu while being masqueraded by the latest Bollywood soundtrack pumped at 8000 decibels. Last time, I saw a samosa salad on the menu. Seriously, who does that? Where does the samosa end and the salad begin? Really people, you can't mix two clearly unrelated items together, call it fusion, and hope for the best. And along comes my indiscernable lunch posing as "Indian" food.
I confess, I don't make a lot of "Indian" food. First, because my family is from Pakistan and I'm not really sure where the line between Indian and Pakistani food is (I'm guessing somewhere around beef). Second, because my mom is an awesome cook and cooking her food (only not as well) makes me feel like a bit of a failure. Look, we all have our knock-yo'-socks-off dishes and unfortunately, most of mine aren't from the subcontinent.
So, therein lies the conundrum. I can either let some high school kid cook and feed me a sad version of my people's food or I can make it myself and eat it while wearing my pajamas and watching True Blood. I vote for the latter. Enter the Chicken Tikka Wrap. I confess, I'm not really creative enough to have come up with this on my own. I'm sure I saw it on the Chat Cafe menu at some point and in my normal take-on-the-world way, thought, "I can make this better." Plus, I have no idea how long the restaurant chicken's been sitting there and the meat to bread ratio is always off which bothers control freaks like myself.
You can also use the greens of your choice. I generally opt for spinach because of a childhood affinity for Popeye (and I don't mean the fried chicken, but that's delicious as well) but romaine and arugula work equally well. Iceberg, not so much. You think Popeye would have eaten iceberg? I think not.
Let's talk wraps. I prefer using frozen parathas which we stock in our freezer in preparation for the great paratha shortage of 2012. Plus, the paratha helps me feel cool and lets me pretend I'm eating a kati roll, the latest food craze to hit New York City (all the while watching True Blood from the comfort of my living room). On days when I'm too tired to feel fabulous and heat a paratha, I nuke a tortilla or pita in the microwave. It tastes equally good but I don't feel nearly as cool. I serve the wrap with a simple raita. While I'd like to pretend there is some elaborate recipe and deep cultural secret to a fabulous raita recipe, the truth is it is nothing more than yogurt mixed with whole cumin seeds, salt and pepper. Sometimes I add some finely chopped cilantro to the raita party for no other reason than because that's what my mom does.
You need to make the Chicken Tikka Wrap soon. You owe it to multiculturalism, diversity, and all those other feel good buzz words. But more importantly, you owe it to yourself, especially after the day you've had.
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 1/2 tsp. ground cumin
1 1/2 tsp. ground corriander
1 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1 1/2 tsp. onion powder
1 1/2 tsp. paprika
1/4 tsp. turmeric
1/4 tsp. garam masala
2-3 tbs. plain yogurt
Cut chicken into cubes, strips, triangles, or whatever shape strikes your fancy. Add yogurt and all of the spices and mix thoroughly. I prefer using a Greek or Arab yogurt because of the creamier consistency but really, you can use whichever yogurt you have on hand (unless it's strawberry. You can't use strawberry yogurt. It must be plain yogurt).
Marinate your chicken mixture in the refrigerator while you contemplate your TV show of choice. Heat 1-2 tablespoons of oil in a pan. Cook chicken. Aim for charred bits on your chicken because that's where you hit flavortown. Heat wrap of choice. Layer with greens and chicken. Cut the wrap on an angle because it looks cooler and really, who doesn't want to feel cool while eating?