Very few people the world over have not heard of tandoori chicken. The iconic status of this North Indian dish means it is on the menu of every Indian restaurant. Tandoori comes from the way it is cooked... in a tandoor or clay oven. The chicken is marinated for a few hours in a mix of spices and yogurt before it is threaded onto skewers and cooked in the tandoor.
Though many people use food coloring to get the almost trademark orange hue for their tandoori chicken, traditionally the chicken gets its color from the use of turmeric powder and powdered Kashmiri red chilies. These red chilies are known to have 'more bark than bite' as they lend a fiery red color but are not as hot as their color suggests! All the lovely spices, the tang of the yogurt and the smokey smell from the tandoor results in a delicious dish that you can almost never just eat one piece of!
The nicest thing about tandoori chicken though, is that it's really easy to make. Once you've got the basic recipe for tandoori masala, prepare and store it so you can cook this tandoori chicken recipe anytime the craving strikes.
- 2 1/2 lbs. chicken (pieces of your choice with skin removed)
- 6 tbsp. tandoori masala
- 1 cup yogurt
- 1 tsp. garlic paste
- Salt (to taste)
- 1 cup vegetable oil (or canola/sunflower cooking oil)
- Garnish: 1 tbsp. chaat masala (available at most Indian grocers)
- Garnish: onion rings
Make shallow diagonal slashes in the chicken pieces and keep aside.
Mix the tandoori masala with the yogurt, 2 tbsp. cooking oil, garlic paste and salt to taste to make a smooth paste.
Smear this paste all over the chicken pieces, ensuring you rub it well into the slashes you made earlier and that the pieces are well coated.
Put all the pieces and marinade into a deep bowl and cover. Refrigerate and allow to marinate for 12 to 18 hours.
Preheat your grill to medium. Put the chicken on it and quickly sear (sealing in juices) on both sides. Now allow to brown on both sides, brushing cooking oil on as necessary.
Once browned, reduce heat and cover the grill. Cook till the chicken is tender. Do not overcook or the chicken will dry out.
When done, place chicken on a plate or platter and sprinkle chaat masala, garnish with lime juice, lime wedges and onion rings. Serve piping hot.
Additional Option: Bake the Tandoori Chicken
Preheat your oven to 350 F / 180 C.
While the oven is heating, line a baking tray with foil and spray the foil with cooking spray or smear with cooking oil. Lay the pieces on this foil and drizzle lightly with cooking oil.
Bake for approximately 15 minutes and then turn pieces and bake for another 10 minutes. Test chicken to see if cooked.