Garam Masala Pulled Chicken Tacos with Cucumber Raita

Garam Masala Pulled Chicken Tacos with Cucumber Raita // Queen Smithereen.
I know what you’re thinking. Sure, you might be wondering what exactly garam masala is. You could also be contemplating the record-skipping concept of Indian flavors in taco form. If you are me at this time last year, then I have two things to tell you: 1) that 5 inches of hair you just lobbed off is going to be back in, like, a week, and you will decide you will never again try to change it and that’s okay, and 2) YES, future you has a slow cooker that you will use to make really delicious pulled chicken. If, however, you-dear reader-are you, in our current space and time, and you are reading this, then I know that these things, though mildly important, are not what has crossed your mind.

Instead, you are reading my words and awaiting confirmation that your eyes do not deceive you. Friends, you are correct–I have purchased a new tablecloth.
Garam Masala Pulled Chicken Tacos with Cucumber Raita // Queen Smithereen.
If there is one thing I have learned over the last few years of running this website, it is this: being a food blogger can be a bit like those awkward teenage years. The ones where you thought wearing really long, thin scarves (and, ahem, knee length dresses over flared pants, and heartagram earrings, and ohgoddon’tremindmeaboutthewhitecroppedleatherjacket) was the height of fashionable. Unfortunately, my affair with all of those things I’ve listed that I’d rather forget will forever be haunted by the poltergeist that is the giant box of family photos at my mother’s.

What I mean to say is, there are some things we make and we post that we learn from. What I mean to say is, when you do something, your ability to do it continually refines itself, and it’s really neat and also slightly embarrassing the things you endorsed way back when.
Garam Masala Pulled Chicken Tacos with Cucumber Raita // Queen Smithereen.

We don’t always get to be aware of our own individual evolution. Looking back at what I started, the Kelsey who wrote back then was just dipping her toes into something she could very well stop doing at any time. Photographing recipes seemed futile, because I felt my recipe should speak for itself*. I remember looking at popular websites and objectively noticing all the little touches-the supporting elements to the main event-that made it seem appetizing. The concept made sense to me, but its realization seemed out of reach.

Fast forward: the Kelsey who writes to you currently has collected a nonsensical number of aprons and knick knacks; a stack of weird plates, dishes, and platters that takes up half of her kitchen cupboard; and any number of fabrics for decorating. Let’s be real: nearly four years ago, my mouth was too full and my hands were too busy shoveling food there and my eyes were too occupied making sure all my food was making it to my mouth, and I just did not see that coming.

I realized, as I was mixing aromatic, earthy Indian spices to scent my slow cooker pulled chicken, that it really just comes down to what speaks to you. We dedicate our efforts to the things we like, and sometimes, that dedication pays off; we improve. Somewhere between the warming and cooling flavors and the velvety and crisp textures of this dish, it occurred to me that my ability to develop recipes, as well as my ability to cook, to present, and to photograph, have all changed because it mattered to me.

Which is why I spend money (read: six dollars) on new tablecloths, and also maybe why I put Indian food on a tortilla.

P.S. IT TASTED GREAT!

One Year: Arugula with Roasted (Fruit and) Vegetables
Two Years: Trottole with Olive Pistou
Three Years: Pimenton Roasted Oven Fries

Garam Masala Pulled Chicken Tacos with Cucumber Raita
Makes 10-12 tacos
NOTE: You will need a slow-cooker for this recipe.

Pulled Chicken:
2 boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 red bell pepper, diced
1/2 cup red onion, diced
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tbsp garam masala
2 tsp paprika
1 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp ground coriander
1/4 tsp ground cayenne
1/4 tsp ground cardamom
pinch of chili flakes, plus more for serving
1 inch fresh ginger, peeled and grated
2 cups vegetable stock

Cucumber Raita:
1 1/2 cups plain greek yogurt
1/2 cup cucumber, diced
2 scallions, light green and white parts only, thinly sliced
1 clove garlic, minced (optional)
zest of one lime
juice of one lime
sea salt, to taste
paprika, to serve

To serve: masa tortillas, diced tomatoes, grated jack cheese, chili flakes, lime wedges, cilantro, avocado slices

Chicken:
Combine chicken breasts, bell pepper, onion, spices, ginger, and vegetable stock in slow cooker. Set heat to low and allow to cook for 2 hours and thirty minutes. Once cooked, use two forks to gently pull apart and shred the meat. Season to taste with chili flakes and sea salt. To store, transfer to an airtight container (with juices) and refrigerate. Chicken will last up to three days.

Raita:
In a small bowl, whisk together yogurt, cucumber, scallions, garlic (optional), lime zest and juice, and sea salt. Sprinkle with paprika before serving.

To serve: In a small saucepan, warm tortillas on low heat. Use a slotted spoon to distribute chicken evenly in the middle of the tortilla. Dollop with raita. Sprinkle with any other assortment of toppings listed. Serve.

*I have since started retaking old photographs to better represent my recipes. While some websites that receive worldwide fame and attention look back almost condescendingly on old posts as “where we came from,” I diverge; not only am I not famous, but I think of myself as an ambassador to my own brand. This is to say, if I believe I can do better, I will sincerely try.

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  1. Slow-Cooker Peruvian Cilantro Chicken Soup – Queen Smithereen.

    […] The last time I ate this, it was cold outside sometimes, but not always. The trees loomed like large, criss crossing labyrinths, intentionally marking the foreign city that surrounded. I remember pulling a chair up to to my window, the thing that separated me from those trees. On it, I set up a cutting board, my grandmother’s crystal, and a scarf I received several years ago to photograph this granola. This is how I capture what I cook sometimes: in weird positions, on unexpected surfaces, without anyone else’s knowledge. The thing a lot of people don’t know about food blogging is, it can be a learned art. I’m still learning. I’m always learning. The dishes you see aren’t always hot. The ice cream may have purposely melted in the space nearby. The recipe was probably plated when it wasn’t mealtime because sometimes, the lighting is superior at 10:30 in the morning. […]

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