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Tandoori Chicken

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Dating back to the times of Mughal Empire, tandoori chicken is a hot favorite with those who love the spicy delicacies of Indian food. People prefer tandoori chicken either as a snack, or as a side dish with other traditional Indian cuisine. Tandoori chicken can also be served as an appetizer.


Cooking poultry with the skin on, helps to retain moisture and flavor. Chicken without the skin, when baked or grilled depletes the moisture content and makes for a hard texture. Here - the traditional Tandoori Chicken depends on the Yogurt/Masala mixture to tenderize as well as provide a degree of moisture at the time of cooking. It is all a matter of proportion - especially when it comes to Cooking. People from the Indian sub-continent devise various means to spice their meat. We provide below the traditional, authentic Tandoori Chicken recipes along with some variations.


Tandoori chicken

A skinless chicken piece that is cooked in a tandoor (tall, cylindrical brick or clay oven) is referred to as tandoori chicken. Marinated chicken pieces are cooked over smoky, intense heat of charcoal fire, mostly at temperatures 480 degrees Fahrenheit. The tandoor oven is lit well prior to cooking so as to reach and maintain favorable cooking temperature.

You can install a tandoor at home or cook on a traditional grill or even opt for the modern day tandoors that use electricity or gas in place of charcoal. Bearing slight resemblance to barbecuing, tandoori chicken is aptly referred as traditional Indian barbecued chicken. The time taken in preparing tandoori chicken can be drastically cut down, if the tandoori masala is ready.

If so, all that you need to do is rub or add to the skinless chicken the ready-made (shop-bought) tandoori masala mix or the masala prepared with little effort at home. Allow the mixture to marinate for at least two hours before starting the process of cooking. The marinated pieces are finally grilled, roasted or baked in oven.


Authentic Red Tandoori Chicken

Cooking chicken the tandoori way, efficiently curtails loss of vitamins and proteins of the food. The tandoor oven retains all the juices and taste of the ingredients and you get to sumptuously feast on the perfect aromatic flavor full of nutritive values. It is difficult for any food lover to resist the tantalizing aroma of tandoori chicken. The secret of the appealing looks of tandoori chicken lies in the ingredients of the tandoori paste. The reddish-orange tint is the result of using annatto seed or food colors that extend this genuine color to tandoori chicken.


Tandoori Chicken marinade

The marinade for tandoori chicken is a heady mix of various spices in a yogurt base. The red Kashmiri chili powder lends it the characteristic red hue. We have suggested the minimum quantity of chili powder here. You can add more - if it suits your palate. It would be 'normal' for purists to add one teaspoon for every pound of chicken for a mildly hot recipe. Kashmiri chili powder is not as hot as other varieties of Chili. Turmeric powder is used too. Other spices that go into the tandoori chicken marinade are cumin powder, garam masala powder, coriander powder, kasuri methi and chaat masala. Ginger and garlic paste is also added to the marinade. Squeeze the juice of a lime for added zest. The masala powders needed for the tandoori chicken marinade are either ground fresh or store bought. This marinade works well for other tandoori varieties such as chicken tikka masala, butter chicken and tandoori paneer tikka.


Tandoori chicken recipe


Ginger root 2 inches piece, peeled and grated
Garlic 4 peeled and minced
Kashmiri Red Chili Powder, 1 tsp
Cumin seeds 1 tsp grounded
Cardamom 1/4 tsp
Cloves 1/4 tsp grounded
Cayenne pepper 1/2 tsp
Salt 1/4 tsp
Plain yogurt 1 cup
Chicken pieces 4 lbs
Vegetable oil or cooking oil 4 tsp
Paprika powder 1 tsp (for color)
Turmeric 1/2 tsp

Remove skin of chicken, wash, drain and keep aside. Prick each chicken piece a few times with a fork (to infuse marinade). Mix grated ginger, garlic, cumin seed, cayenne pepper, cardamom, cloves and yogurt. Transfer chicken pieces to a foil-lined baking pan. Pour over the yogurt mixture. Use your hands to coat the meat completely. Place in an airtight container. Leave for minimum 2 hours or overnight or longer in the refrigerator. Remove from fridge 30 minutes before cooking. Heat oven to 240 C or 475 F.

Line a baking tray with aluminum foil. Dribble oil over the chicken in the pan. Sprinkle turmeric. Place baking pan in the oven. Cook for one hour until the pieces turn brown and dry. Turn the pieces halfway though cooking. Drain off excess oil to avoid soggy output. Wait till the meat comes off the chicken. Serve hot with slices of cucumber, red onion and lemon.


In the absence of an oven, tandoori chicken can be cooked in a pan. Heat the pan, add ghee and wait for it to melt completely. Add the marinated chicken pieces and cook till it turns wholly brown. Reduce heat and cover the pan. After 20-30 minutes, the chicken pieces are ready to be served.

How to make Tandoori Chicken

If you want to make tandoori chicken at home sans a tandoor, you can use your oven. Marinate the chicken pieces in the chicken masala paste. Refrigerate for about 4 hours. Place them on a baking tray lined with foil. Bake it for about half an hour. Turn the chicken pieces and bake for another 15 minutes. You can serve tandoori chicken with lemon wedges, salad and rice or naan.

To make simple tandoori chicken at home, you can try this recipe too. Make the tandoori chicken marinade by blending yogurt, garam masala, ginger and garlic, salt, green chilly and sliced onions. You can add a few drops of red food color for that characteristic red color. Pour your marinade into a freezer bag and drop the chicken pieces into it. Ensure that all pieces are well coated with the marinade, even between slits. Tie the bag and refrigerate it till you need to use the chicken.


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