I am a big fan of Tandoori chicken. It’s definitely one of my all time favorites! It’s right up next to butter chicken. That’s spoken like a true Punjabi! And I have searched in vain for a restaurant here that serves good Tandoori chicken but have been extremely disappointed. Inspite of the large North Indian population here, I’m yet to find a place that makes tandoori chicken like they make back home in India. This recipe however, makes perhaps the best oven made tandoori chicken you will find in the city. I’m not very modest about my cooking!
Tandoori chicken is said to have originated in erstwhile Punjab, prior to the partition of India and Pakistan. Tandoors go back to way longer though. I remember reading a book (The Twentieth Wife, which by the way is one of my favourites) about Jehangir the Mughal emperor and Noor Jahan. And the book mentioned that tandoors were used to cook food at the Imperial court in Delhi for the emperor. Huh, I am a foodie because I remembered that from the book! So the art or science (whatever you call it) of cooking in a tandoor probably came to India with the Mughals.
History aside, I like the dish because it’s not as rich as most other Indian food. And it has so much flavour! I haven’t met anybody who could resist a plate of this absolutely delicious chicken, orange and crispy – charred on the outside, tender and succulent on the inside. Can you resist this?
I am drooling already but here’s the recipe for you:
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 30 minutes
- Chicken breasts (Boneless and skinless) – 2 (Each cut in 3 pieces)
- Chicken legs (Boneless and skinless) – 4
For the Marinade:
- Lemon juice – Juice of about 1/2 a lemon
- Salt – 2 teaspoons
- Cayenne pepper – 1 teaspoon
- Ginger paste – 2 teaspoons
- Garlic paste – 2 teaspoons
- Yoghurt – 3 tablespoons
- Oil – 2 tablespoons
- Masala mix – 2 teaspoons (For a milder version add half the mix and save half for later)
- Nutmeg – 1/2 teaspoon
- Roasted cumin powder – 1/2 tablespoon
- Red food color (optional) – A tad bit! (I used the liquid one that I usually use to color cake icing)
- Amchur (Dried mango powder) – 1 teaspoon
For the masala mix:
- Cloves – 1 teaspoon
- Black cardamom – 1
- Green cardamom – 1 teaspoon
- Coriander seeds – 1 teaspoon
- Dried red chillies – 2
- Mace – 1/2 teaspoon
- Black peppercorn – 1 teaspoon
- Carom seeds – 1/2 teaspoon
- Cinnamon – 1/2 teaspoon
- Bay leaves – 1.5
- Make slashes / cuts on the chicken pieces so the marinade can penetrate.
- Heat a large pan, add ingredients of the masala mix to the pan and dry roast them for 3 – 4 minutes on low heat. Grind the contents to form a powder.
- In a large bowl, combine the ingredients of the marinade, red food coloring and masala mix and rub liberally over the chicken. Let it stand for 3 hours in the fridge
- Preheat the oven on broiler set at high for 5 minutes.
- Place chicken in the middle rack and let cook for 10 minutes.
- After 10 minutes remove tray and flip the chicken pieces on to the other side and place tray on top rack for 7 minutes.
- Remove tray and flip chicken pieces. Place tray in the oven on top rack for another 8 minutes. Make sure chicken is cooked through.
- Remove the tray and make sure chicken is cooked through.
I used about 700 grams of chicken for the recipe. You could substitute the masala mix with pre made garam masala powder. Although the flavour may not be the same. If you’re not a fan of food coloring use a teaspoon of turmeric instead.
Voilà! Squeeze the juice of a quarter of a lemon, slice up some onions and enjoy your freshly made, hot and delicious tandoori chicken with naan or as is!