Tandoori Chicken

This tandoori chicken recipe a really simple but yummy chicken dish for when you fancy a curry but can’t really be bothered to make a paste and a sauce and so on and so forth. It’s what you might call a ‘dry curry’ in that it doesn’t have lashings of sauce to go with it, but it’s lighter as a result. Because it is on the drier side, I like to serve it up with some flavourful rice, such as our nutty lemon rice, as well as flatbreads or yoghurt-free wholemeal flatbreads if you’re feeling a bit healthier and maybe even a yoghurt dip just to make it into a tasty meal. It would also be great as part of a barbecue. It’s delicious cold.

If you don’t have very much time to prepare it, you don’t need to bother with the spice toasting and grinding. I think it adds a fresher flavour,  but it’s still tasty if you use pre-ground spices. You can make up the marinade ahead of time and leave the chicken marinating for a day or so if needed. Make your cooking fit around you.

Tandoori isn’t a flavour but rather a style of cooking, and unless you have a tandoor (a type of pot-like, exceedingly hot oven used in Indian cookery) you’re going to have to substitute another source of very hot, intense heat, either by turning your oven as high as it gets, or using a barbecue. There are a number of recipes which suggest using a very hot grill, but I’m not convinced that’s a safe way of cooking chicken with the bone in, so I just used the oven.

If you want this to look more like ‘traditional’ tandoori chicken, with a deep red colour, you’ll need to add some food colouring (or use a ready made tandoori paste) but didn’t do that as it wouldn’t add anything to the flavour and I’d rather eat food that’s the colour it’s supposed to be (unless we’re talking novelty cakes that is!).

Tandoori Chicken

Tandoori Chicken

Ingredients

  • 3-4 garlic gloves
  • Thumb sized piece of fresh ginger
  • 10 cardamom pods (or ground)
  • 2 tsp cumin seeds (or ground)
  • 2 tsp coriander seeds (or ground)
  • 1 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp cloves (or ground)
  • Grating of nutmeg (or 1/4 tsp ground)
  • 2 tsp hot chilli powder
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • Good pinch salt
  • 5 tbsp (or around 150g) or low fat (or full fat) yoghurt
  • 2 tsp lemon juice
  • Chicken thighs, thighs and drumsticks or bone in chicken pieces with the skin on

Instructions

  1. Toast the whole spices, if you're using them, in a small frying pan over a low heat, tossing frequently. Keep an eye on them so they don't burn.
  2. Bash and then remove the seeds from the cardamom pods. Now tip the toasted spices into a pestle and mortar.
  3. Grind them up as finely as you can manage and tip them into a nice big bowl.
  4. Add the other spices and the salt.
  5. Grate the ginger and garlic and add to the bowl and then mix together. Now add the yoghurt and lemon juice and mix everything together.
  6. Add the chicken to the marinade and cover. Allow to marinate for at least an hour or overnight in the fridge if you would prefer.
  7. Take out of the fridge at least half an hour before you cook it - longer if it's winter and it's cold in your kitchen. Ideally it should be at room temperature when it goes in the oven.
  8. Turn the oven up to its highest temperature with the fan on (for us that's 240c). Just be very careful when going in and out of the oven. Once it's nice and hot, put the chicken on a good nonstick tray and slide it into the oven on the top shelf.
  9. It should take around 25 to 30 minutes to cook through with crispy skin. Don't panic if it's blackened when it comes out of the oven - it just adds to the authenticity.
  10. Enjoy with rice and bread and maybe a nice yoghurt dip and some mango chutney, as well as some fresh lemon slices on the side.
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