The secret to good tasting tandoori chicken lies not only in the marinade and the length of time the chicken is marinated, but also the technique of cooking it.
Of course the tandoori chicken is at its best when cooked in the tandoor which is a clay oven. Since we cannot bake in the tandoor at home we could barbecue or grill it and also bake it in the oven. Barbecued chicken is better in flavour than the oven baked or grilled chicken and is closer to the tandoor baked.
Soaking the chicken in brine for up to six hours and marinating in the tandoori masala for up to 4 hours before cooking, enhances the flavour and taste to a great extent.
Recently I used a different technique to grill the tandoori chicken in the oven. I preheated the oven to 350 degrees fahrenheit on convection roast. Then I skewered the chicken pieces on a rotisserie insert and placed it on a baking tray. This way the chicken pieces did not touch the pan so they roasted just as they would have inside a tandoor (clay oven). They were done in 45 minutes. The cooking time may differ with different ovens so you should keep an eye on it. I had to baste them with oil 2 times when they were roasting.
Then I smoked them with a piece of burning charcoal which I put in a tin foil cup, dropped a blob of ghee on it and placed it in between the chicken pieces in the baking tray, covered it with aluminium foil and placed it in the hot oven for 5 more minutes. The chicken absorbed the smoky flavour and when we ate them they tasted like they came out of a tandoor…. sooo delicious!!
Here’s the recipe!
3 Chicken legs (6 pieces)
2 tbs Hung sour yoghurt
1 tbs tandoori masala
1 tsp Kashmiri red chilly powder
1/2 tsp Turmeric powder
1 tbs ginger garlic paste
1/2 tsp cumin powder
1/2 tsp garam masala powder
Juice of 1/2 a lemon
1tbs vegetable oil
Salt to taste
1. Clean, wash, drain and towel dry the chicken legs each cut into 2 pieces (thigh and drumstick). Make slits in the chicken pieces then rub with salt and lemon juice and set aside for 10 -15 minutes.
2. Mix together all the spices and the hung yoghurt in a bowl, add the vegetable oil and the required amount of salt to make the tandoori marinade.
3. Massage the chicken with this marinade and leave for up to 4 hours.
4. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees fahrenheit and bake for 40 – 45 minutes. I lined the cookie sheet with aluminium foil and placed the chicken pieces on it. This way it is easier to keep the cookie sheet clean.
5. Remove from the oven when the chicken is well done – should be moist and juicy inside and brown and crispy outside. You could even barbecue.
6. Preheat the oven to 350ºF. on convection roast. Skewer the chicken pieces on a rotisserie insert and place it on a baking tray so that the chicken pieces do not touch the base of the baking tray. Let them roast for at least 45 minutes. Please note that the cooking time may differ with different ovens so after 30 minutes, do keep an eye on it til it is just done. While they are roasting keep basting with oil 2 or 3 times or as when needed.
7. Then to smoke the chicken, make a tin foil cup which can hold a piece ofI smoked them with a piece of burning charcoal with ghee smeared on it, wrapped them in aluminium foil and placed them in the hot oven for 5 more minutes. The chicken absorbed the smoky flavour and when we ate them they tasted like they came out of a tandoor………….sooo delicious!!
6. Serve hot on a bed of onion rings and lemon wedges sprinkled with chaat masala. Enjoy with Naan and dal or rice.
*The pictures above show tandoori chicken made at two different times with different baking techniques.
1. It is really important to use a very good quality tandoori masala. I prefer the Desi brand of spices and their tandoori masala is very good. If that is not available then I use the Kissan brand. Otherwise I make my own.
2. Using hung yoghurt in the marinade and marinating for up to 4 hours results in a better tasting and more flavourful chicken.
3. The tandoori masala has salt in it so you should be careful when you add salt. Rub just the right amount of salt the chicken needs and not anymore to the masala.
4. Grind the ginger garlic without adding water so that it is a thick paste and is not runny.