Although chicken cooked in a tandoor oven is a common Indian dish, many preparations taste somewhat bland or dry. The Tandoori chicken we cook is juicy and full of flavor.
A VERY COMPLICATED RECIPE
I have had Tandoori Chicken several times at Indian eateries. Almost certainly, we’ve all had this dish before. Tandoori Chicken seems to constantly be on the menu, either as a standby or as a made-to-order item, but it’s not always very excellent.
For all the work that seemed to go into making them, I’ve had versions that were dry, looked like red food coloring was the major ingredient, and tasted boring. There are hidden treasures, like flavorful, well-cooked Tandoori Chicken, but they’re rare.
If you look at Tandoori Chicken, you’ll see that it’s a dish with a low percentage of hits. To be honest, I don’t know if most Indian restaurants utilize a clay tandoor oven or a regular oven, but I do know that we don’t have one!
We are not Indian cuisine specialists (although we do aspire to be), so I needed a workaround.
Once upon a summertime, I felt the urge to grill some Tandoori Chicken. Not sure why I never thought to use a regular oven instead, but I never did. The first batch I made was using chicken breasts, which turned out to be quite dry and not at all appetizing. However, that didn’t deter me, and I continued to experiment with other approaches and recipes, giving them a shot once every summer on average.
My summertime success with a recipe! Even though it wasn’t “genuine,” the tandoori chicken tasted great and satiated our hunger. Even though it’s missing the trademark atomic red-food-coloring look, my three harshest critics agreed that it tasted great.
Here’s hoping everyone had a good time. Without further ado, we plunged into the food once the last photo was taken.
- 85g plain of Greek yogurt
- 2 tablespoons of minced garlic
- 2 tablespoons of grated fresh ginger
- 2 tablespoons of freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon of paprika
- 1 tablespoon of freshly ground cumin seed or powder
- 2½ teaspoons of salt
- 2 teaspoons of oil
- 2 teaspoons of ground Indian red pepper
- 2 teaspoons of ground coriander seeds
- 1½ teaspoons of garam masala
- 1 teaspoon of ground cloves
- ¾ teaspoon of turmeric
- ¼ teaspoon of black pepper
Rest of the dish:
- 6 chicken leg quarters; drumsticks and thighs
- 1 cucumber; sliced
- 1 medium red onion; sliced
- Cilantro or parsley for garnish
- 585g of dry basmati rice
- 6 cloves
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 1 cup of frozen peas
- 3 tablespoons of oil
- 3 teaspoons of cumin seeds
- 2 teaspoons of salt
- To make the marinade, just put all ingredients in a basin and stir until uniform.
- Slit the chicken with a sharp knife so the marinade can penetrate the meat. A total of three cuts in each drumstick and four or five in each thigh should do the trick.
- To get that extra crispy skin, which is often removed while making Tandoori Chicken, I kept it on (obviously). Although it’s ultimately up to you, know that chicken with the skin on it tends to cause more flare-ups on the grill. Extra taste is worth the extra effort required to keep an eye on the chicken on the grill and turn the pieces over more frequently.
- Prepare a big serving dish for the chicken. Evenly coat the chicken with the marinade and refrigerate for at least 12 hours but no more than 2 days. It would have been OK to marinade the chicken for even longer than the 16 hours we did.
- In the same way that you should never grill a cold steak, you should remove the chicken from the fridge three to four hours before cooking it on the grill so that it can come to room temperature. This is crucial because the chicken’s marinade will burn if the chicken is left on the grill for too long while its internal temperature is still too low.
- You can prepare your jeera rice, an Indian staple, now. We’ve measured out enough rice to go with the chicken, but feel free to make as much or as little as you like. To prepare rice, wash it completely and then pour it into your cooking pot. Leave covered in water for 20 minutes.
- During this time, bring your oil, butter, or ghee to the temperature in a pot. After it has melted, stir in the spices (cumin, cloves, and cinnamon). Let the oil absorb the flavor of the spices for a couple of minutes. The rice should be soaked for the appropriate amount of time, drained well, and then mixed with the seasonings. After briefly sautéing for 2 minutes, the rice should be cooked in a rice cooker. Pour the water and salt into the rice cooker and turn it on. If you don’t have a rice cooker, follow our steps for making excellent rice on the stove.
- It’s time to start frying the chicken. Cover your grill and heat it to 500 degrees before you uncover it.
- Remove any extra marinade from the chicken and cook over high heat. Cover the grill while cooking, but don’t walk away; too much smoke means the chicken is getting too charred.
- It’s important to keep the grill cover down and turn the chicken as often as necessary to prevent burning and ensure an even cooking process. Time-wise, we spent 45 minutes on the chicken, and that included frequent turning and repositioning.
- If you want to know if the chicken is done, you can pierce it and look at the juices that come out, or you can use an instant-read thermometer to check the temperature near the bone. Chicken is safest when cooked to 165 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Add the frozen peas to the rice during the last 2 to 3 minutes of cooking time and toss well to combine. Having the rice reheated is a must. Traditionally, chicken is served over a bed of rice accompanied by fresh cucumber, red onion, and cilantro slices.