Tandoori Chicken simply means oven chicken. The name indicates the origins of the dish. It is chicken cooked in a traditional tandoor – a cylindrical clay wood or charcoal burning oven. The tandoor can reach very high temperatures, but tandoori chicken can be cooked to perfection in a slow pre-heated oven.
Tandoori chicken is one of Northern India’s classic dishes. The results are always mouth-watering and your guests will never be disappointed.
1 large chicken
1 tub of Plain yoghurt
1 table spoon of garlic powder (or 3 to 4 cloves garlic – minced)
2 table spoons of coriander
a pinch (1/4 teaspoon) of turmeric
1 table spoon of mustard seed or mustard powder
1/2 to 1 teaspoon of chilli powder
1 table spoon of ground ginger
1 tablespoon of ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon of ground cardamom
3 to 4 table spoons of paprika (for a good red colour)
The juice of 2 lemons
Freshly ground black pepper
Olive oil to baste
There are a number of ready mixed Tandoori chicken mixtures on the market. If the ingredients resemble those above then try it out. But the best is generally to make your own mixture.
Rice is optional, as tandoori chicken is generally served with a traditional bread called a papad. This is quite a thick and fluffy bread.
Basmati Rice is ideal, but plain white rice cooked with a little turmeric will also do.
A fresh garden salad
A cucumber salad may be served with very thinly sliced cucumber with a little lightly spiced plain yoghurt. To spice use a little garam masalla.
If you are using fresh ingredients then make sure that these are finely crushed. Mix the spices together and roast them for a minute on a low heat. Roasting the spices brings out the flavour.
Place the spices in a bowl and mix thoroughly with the yoghurt.
The chicken may be kept whole or cut into quarters. Skin the chicken. Make a number of diagonal incisions into the breast and legs of the chicken. Take the mixture and rub it into the chicken making sure that the chicken is completely saturated. Make sure that the marinade has been rubbed into the incisions. Place the chicken in the fridge and leave to marinade for the next 24 hours turning several times. If you do not have enough time then two hours is the minimum.
Place the chicken into a roasting dish and place in a pre-heated oven at about 150 degrees centigrade. Allow to cook for about two hours or until the chicken is dry and looks a deep red. Remove the chicken from the oven and squeeze two lemons over the chicken to provide a glaze. Replace the chicken back into the oven and cook for another ten minutes.
Garnish with the parsley and lemon wedges. Serve with the rice, the papads and the salads.
Once you have tried this recipe, you can attempt a whole range of variations. Everything remains the same except for the cooking method. A rotisserie over a charcoal barbecue produces wonderful results with this recipe. Alternatively use chicken pieces and cook over a wood or charcoal barbeque. To make the most delicious kebabs, cut the chicken into cubes and put onto skewers before adding the marinade. The kebabs may be barbequed of grilled.
Whichever method you choose you can hardly go wrong!