Food by Friends: Cookaloca

Wednesday, July 29, 2009 37 comments

Cookaloca's Grilled Chicken Tikka

Question: What happens when a Chinese-Indonesian foodie/ world traveller/ publishing house founder who has, at various times, found herself at home in the United States, Belgium, Spain and now the Netherlands, decides to share her travel and culinary experiences with the rest of us?

Answer: Cookaloca is born.

This extraordinary blog is the brainchild of Sari Tjio, who writes about food, culture and travel in between ushering academic and literary manuscripts to publication through [Papiroz.], the publishing house she established in Rijswijk, The Netherlands. Since her first post in late 2007, Sari has offered an intriguing mix of vivid travelogue, splendid photography, tantalizing recipes and astute commentaries on food issues that range from assessing her personal practice of local and seasonal eating to the way her definition of 'home' continues to evolve as the food she cooks and consumes is influenced by her many journeys.

Deliciously reflecting these experiences are the recipes that Sari shares, which span cultures from the Americas to Europe to Asia. While I've salivated over many of them, one in particular prompted such an immediate craving that I resolved to make it soon after it was posted: Chicken Tikka.

Grilled Chicken Tikka with Steamed Rice

In her original post featuring the recipe, Sari expressed concern that her rendition of this traditional tandoori fare would not be regarded as 'authentic' by some. While that may be so, I consider it a wonderful reflection of the adaptive and global nature of food - that an Indonesian epicure can interpret a classic Indian dish to suit a surprising obsession among the Dutch with summer barbecue grilling! Authentic or not, there is no denying that Sari's Chicken Tikka is simply delectable.

While I could certainly list many of Cookaloca's amazing recipes and fascinating posts here - Indonesian cakes baked on heated sand, anyone? - a visit to Sari's blog is an experience you shouldn't miss. Head over there right now and be sure to have your bags packed or your stove fired up: after just one post, you may just find yourself with an urge to start a gastronomic travel adventure of your own!

Cookaloca Chicken Tikka on the Grill
Except for reducing this recipe by half, I closely adhered to Sari's original recipe, which called for deboned chicken thighs to be marinated in Greek yogurt spiced with garlic, ginger, garam masala, turmeric (curcuma), paprika, chili powder and lemon juice. I did, however, liberally add more of the spices for the simple reason that I love their flavors! Cooked either on a stovetop grill pan or over a flame, the chicken was incredibly succulent and flavorful - a fantastic alternative to your run-of-the-mill barbecue sauce.

. . . And Time to Say Thank You to Other Generous Friends

By now, many of you know that I am an incorrigible procrastinator - so much so that I should really consider changing my blog name to Tardy Noodle. I've been in particularly fine form recently as I have put off acknowledging properly and publicly the sweet friends who have shared their blog awards with me in the past months. As poor as my time management skills are, my gratitude and appreciation for their thoughtfulness are abundant and sincere.

I hope you'll visit these blogs and see for yourself why they deserve all recognition!

Top, from left: Friend, One Lovely Blog, Premio Meme
Bottom, from left: Premiul de creativitate, SuperDuper Chef, Kreativ Blogger

The Friend award comes from Rebecca at Chow and Chatter, a British transplant and registered dietician who cooks up delicious American, English, Indian and other international fare for her family in their Winston-Salem, NC home. Visit her blog for great recipes, the latest news in nutrition and other features, such as guides on shopping in her favorite Indian store and other ethnic markets.

Miranda of My Food and Life Encounters is the mother of two adorable little girls and her dedication to cooking tasty, healthy and fun food for them comes through in her wonderful recipes. Her joy in blogging is equally obvious - read her post on becoming more adventurous in the kitchen, then try out her Fish Tacos with Green Tomato Salsa. Thank you, Miranda, for sharing your first blog award, One Lovely Blog!

It was rather fitting when Ricardo of Rico: Tried and Tested Recipes shared his double awards - SuperDuper Chef and Premiul de Creativitate - in a post featuring a scrumptious Almond-Filled Sponge Cake he made for his twins' 16th birthday in May (my birth-month, too!) Whether it's a vegetable dish, a seafood pasta or a lamb fillet, Rico promises that his many original recipes are wholesome food that he serves his own family - truly tried and tested!

"I'm into food and I like to travel a lot." So says the appropriately named Taste Traveller of The Good Sandwich, who extended her Premio Meme to me and six other bloggers. I had previously received this meme and wrote about my 7 personality traits, but couldn't come up with another seven worthy enough to mention. So be sure to read Taste's very honest self-assessment and then check out her Bulgogi Burgers with Sweet Potato and Zucchini Fries. Given the name of her blog, how could you possibly resist?

Speaking of not being able to resist, imagine yourself seated in a lovely little restaurant for dinner with 14 of your closest friends and the food starts parading in - all thirty-five (35!) courses. Could you resist taking a bite from each plate? How long would you last? Find out how Australian blogger Trina, a.k.a. Forager of Foraging Otaku, fared with all this fare in her post, Gluttony Redefined at Perama. Then, explore her blog further, with its spectacular food photography and great restaurant reviews, to see why she deserved the Kreativ Blogger award.

Finally, I still giggle over the funniest award I've seen yet - The Bra Award, courtesy of Chef E of Food~Wine~Fun, whom many of you already know for her way of combining a love of cooking with community service, such as teaching culinary classes for underprivileged kids. Check out the posts on her recent visit to Texas, where she got together with old friends and cooked - or baked, in this case - my personal favorite, White Chocolate Macadamia Nut Cookies!

Chef E/Elizabeth shared this award with six bloggers, including me, Rico and Sam at My Carolina Kitchen, who then turned around and shared it with me again! Sam writes and cooks from her home in Western North Carolina but she also travels extensively. I've enjoyed her stories of time spent in France's Provence region as well her tales of island life on Abaco in the Bahamas (the subject of her memoir-in-progress). I may not be able to hop on a plane to retrace her journeys but I can walk into the kitchen and recreate her recipes. Try Asparagus Goldenrod, which is now the only way Mr. Noodle will eat this vegetable!

My sincerest thanks go to these generous friends for sharing their awards. In keeping with my past practice, I would like to invite everyone to share in these awards and encourage you to visit the aforementioned blogs as well as the sites on my adjacent blogroll. I have no doubt that you'll enjoy reading them as much as I do!


  • s. stockwell said...

    Your posts are so rich!! so power packed with just the right combination of exotic information, foodie gossip and with this one... righteous recognition...just so well done. We do a chicken Tikka of our own and will try this one...just wish we had an authentic oven?? best to you, s

  • Chef E said...

    *lots of giggles* I forgot about that award, as I also had never seen it when it was passed to me...humor and admiration's are found in the most unlikely forms sometimes, and you are so deserving of such attention with your wonderful writing, passion for food, and life!!

    I love chicken tikka, and now feel the craving to make it for hubby and I...yours looks yummy!

  • Manggy said...

    I certainly don't demand for all recipes to be authentic-- we only really need one definitely authentic recipe for reference/preservation, but the rest is in our hands :) This looks fantastic. Thanks for introducing us to the site!

    WV: foodert. Ha ha ha.

  • Jenn said...

    Love it x10. Ironically, I've been craving some sort of masala lately and I do have some chicken in the freezer. I think you've just given me a lightbulb moment.

  • Phyllis said...

    This is the 2nd chicken tikka recipe I've printed out today! (and I also learned two new words for turmeric - curcuma & haldi)
    Congrats on all your well deserved awards, TN!

  • sari tjio said...

    Hi Paola
    I just woke up here in NL and found this message from you. Wow, I am really deeply honored to be featured in in your wonderful blog (I am really a great fan!). Thank you! I did blush a little, reading all those wonderful words about me. Hope you enjoyed the chicken tikka and the blog!

  • Sam Hoffer / My Carolina Kitchen said...

    Congratulations on your well deserved awards. You love food and you also are one of the best writers around and it shows on your blog.

    Thanks for the nice things you've said about me and my two blogs. I'm glad Mr. Noodle is still enjoying the asparagus.

    I couldn't help myself - I had to pass that bra award to you, even though Chef E had given it to you too because I enjoyed your French Friday series you did with Joie de Vivre.

    Now after reading this I'm craving chicken. I can't wait to click over and see the Cookaloca's blog.

  • Miranda said...

    Thank you so much for the wonderful words. I truly enjoy blogging, especially since you meet so many amazing people.

    Thank you for the fantastic recipe too!!!

  • Anonymous said...

    The grilled chicken tikka looks fantastic! Will check this blog out, thanks! Congrats on your well-deserved awards!

  • Sippity Sup said...

    This blog sounds so down your alley. I have seen you lurking at other blogs that combine food, travel and great writing. Thanks for the intro to this one. GREG

  • Lori said...

    I am seriously drooling over that chicken. You just can't get that charbroiled goodness around here and oh how I miss it. The beef just can't compare to grill chicken for me. :)

    Thanks so much for sharing the blog. I will definitely have to check it out! Congrats on all your awards! You deserve each and every one!

  • Tangled Noodle said...

    Thank you all for your comments and I hope you'll enjoy visiting these blogs!

    Stockwell - Oh, thank you for such kind words! One of the reasons that I disappear from the comments of my friend-blogs for such long periods of time is that I try to read all posts. There are so many of you who deserve such recognition so I'm happy to do my part! As for a tandoor oven, it'll go right beside the authentic brick pizza oven! 8-D

    Rebecca - Thank you for sharing! The chicken tikka turned out so well; when it gets too cold to grill, I'll move it indoors to a stovetop grill pan so that we can continue to enjoy it.

    KennyT - You're welcome and thank you! I hope you'll find some great new blogs to read.

    Waakeupcall - [LOL] I do it all the time - foodblog reading on an empty stomach is sweet torture!

    Chef E - Thank you so much! Everytime I see this award, I have such a good little laugh, and it's so true! 8-D I highly recommend this tikka recipe - so easy and tasty!

    Elra - Since grilling season here is shorter than in other places, we try to grill as often as possible. I'll have to see if this recipe works as well when it's on the stovetop!

    Manggy - That's a great point about preserving one truly authentic recipe but being more flexible otherwise. Everyone seems to have a different idea of what's authentic about a single dish, so who gets to be right? I hope you'll enjoy visiting Cookaloca - Sari's culture posts are so insightful!

    Jenn - Yay for lightbulb moments! I think this chicken tikka recipe really does it - I had the same reaction as you. The moment I saw it, the light came on and I wanted to make it ASAP!

    Phyllis - Oooh! I'll have to ask you for the link to the other recipe. I had to look up curcuma and when the definition came up, my response was, "I have that!" - so excited! I didn't know about the other word, haldi, but that's good to know! Thank you so much!!

    Sari Tjio - It was such a pleasure to do this. I wish I could have written even more but I wanted to say just enough to encourage everyone to see for themselves how fantastic your blog is.

    We certainly did enjoy the chicken! My husband was doubtful when he first saw the chicken in the marinade but the yogurt just cooked so perfectly and kept the meat so moist. I will definitely be making this on a regular basis. Thank you so much for all your wonderful creativity and insight! I look forward to continue reading your blog!!

    HoneyB - Thank you!! I'm sure you'll enjoy this as much as we did!

    Mediterranean Kiwi - Thank you so much! After all the sticky and sweet barbecue sauces, this was such a refreshing change of flavor.

  • Tangled Noodle said...

    (Replies, cont'd)

    Sam - Thank you for your kind words! Coming from such a wonderful and accomplished writer as you, your comment means so much to me! When Mr. Noodle read that statement, he said, "That is so true!" I think I may have to pick up some asparagus this weekend now . . .!

    Enjoy Sari's blog - she's also a fantastic writer.

    Miranda - You are so sweet! When I first started, I didn't know what to expect but it's been such a pleasure to meet other like-minded bloggers like you!

    Kat - Enjoy Sari's blog: I'm still working my way through her archives!

    5 Star Foodie - Thank you so much and I know that you'll find Sari's site to be engrossing!

    Helen - Tardy Noodle really would be more appropriate but I'm still too Tangled to change it now! 8-P Hope you'll have fun visiting these sites.

    Bob - No one said it was easy being a food blog fan! I'm in the same boat so I figure I might as well have company!

    Jackie - Thank you though the credit for grilling goes to Mr. Noodle! As for the rice, I used to just plop the food right on top before taking photos; I started adding spices and nuts to give it more color but then discovered it tasted great, too!

    Duo Dishes - I will convey your compliments to the family griller, Mr. Noodle! 8-)

    Sophie - Thank you so much! This chicken tikka was so easy and tasted so very good.

    Greg - I do gravitate toward food culture blogs but there are so many great ones out there; I've definitely been lurking more than commenting right now! 8-) I hope you'll enjoy Sari's site: it has such great depth of writing.

    Lori - We tend to grill way more beef and pork than chicken but that may change with this recipe! Thank you so much and I hope you'll have fun at Sari's blog!

  • Forager said...

    Yum! the chicken tikka looks delicious! And I know what you mean about procrastinating! I have a backlog of 20+ posts to write. I think I'm just going to give up on some of them.

    Thanks for the kind words about my blog. I love reading yours - it's so varied, interesting and well written. You truly deserved that Kreativ Award! But I'd like to read the 7 interesting things about you! I think that's the most insightful thing about this particular award :)

  • Phyllis said...

    me again! sorry I didn't mention this in my first comment. I printed out the recipe from Heavenly Housewife's blog for chicken tikka masala:

  • Reeni said...

    Congrats on your awards, they are well-deserved! Chicken Tikka sounds delicious! I've never made it at home. Definitely have to give it a try.

  • Tangled Noodle said...

    Hope you've all enjoyed Sari's site and recipe!

    Forager - I'm falling further behind with everything. I'm going to take a break and just reset the dial. 8-) Every word about your blog is true. I've enjoyed sharing your food forays vicariously!

    Phyllis - Thanks for the link! When you mentioned, I immediately had a hankering, sight unseen. 8-)

    Reeni - Thank you! Definitely try this out - it was easier than expected and so delicious on the grill!

    Yarntangler - By all means, please snag the award! I truly mean it when I say that I want to share it with everyone. It's too good to stay stuck here!

    Pigpigscorner - The charred bits are always the tastiest parts!

    Lisa - Sari deserves so much more attention. I see that you've been commenting on her site long before I came across it - I'm slowly making my way through her archives. 8-)

  • Tangled Noodle said...

    Bergamot - Thank you! I normally make plain steamed rice rather than pilaus/pilafs but have started to dress them up a bit more with nuts, herbs and spices (this one has cilantro and paprika in addition to the almonds). It does add a little more interest to both presentation and flavor!

  • Tangled Noodle said...

    Okay, this is a super-late reply to your comments but I really appreciate them!

    Spud - Seriously! There are so many great food blogs out there; I don't know how we'll keep up but do it we must! 8-)

    Spryte - Thanks! Sari deserves all the credit for the recipe and the husband gets kudos for the perfect char lines. 8-)


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