Tandoori Chicken is a very popular Indian roasted chicken dish that is marinated in yoghurt and lots of different spices. A very hot and spicy chicken dish but versions outside India had been toned down to be more palatable. Original version uses a lot of turmeric and ground chillies to achieve that distinctive red orange colour but due to Westernization and mellowing down of flavours food colouring is now used. Like naan, this dish is also cooked in a tandoor (clay oven) in very hot temperatures which reaches 480C it is where it got its name as well.
The origin of this dish is attributed to Kundan Lal Gujral who ran a restaurant called Moti Mahal in the 1920’s in Peshawar (now in Pakistan). But when Pakistan separated from India Gujral moved his restaurant in Delhi and it is where the tandoori chicken got famous. He cooks this chicken in a tandoor clay oven and this kept his patrons interested because during those times tandoors are only meant for naan’s. The style and recipe became really popular even Jawaharlal Nehru the first Prime Minister of India made it a regular dish served on official banquets where foreign dignitaries are invited.
A real classic Indian dish which is enjoyed best using the classic style which is super-hot and spicy. Was lucky to try some before in Malaysia where they don’t tone down the spices and sticked to the original recipe that defines a real tandoori chicken. I also saw some sold here in New Zealand and tried them, it tastes so much different as it is mellowed down and adjusted for the Kiwi palate. I suggest you try the hot and spicy one but if it’s too much for you start consuming them in small amounts until you get used to it.
- 8-10 pcs chicken legs, scored
- 6 tbsp ghee
- 1 cup plain yogurt
- juice from 2 lemons
- 6 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tbsp minced ginger
- 1 tbsp paprika
- 1 tbsp turmeric
- 1 tbsp ground cumin
- 1 tsp ground coriander
- 2 tsp cayenne, adjust this one to your liking
- ½ tsp ground cardamom
- ½ tsp ground cloves
- freshly ground black pepper
- 1 tbsp annatto powder, optional (this naturally gives it a bright red orange colour)
- In a bowl mix together all marinade ingredients.
- Place chicken pieces on a bowl then pour marinade over it, rub apply the marinade generously specially the scored areas. Cover the bowl and let it marinate for at least 8 hours.
- Remove chicken from the fridge hours before cooking, it needs to be in room temperature before grilling. Carefully place chicken together with lumps of marinade in a wire rack placed on top of a dripping pan.
- Set your oven to grill (fan forced will be better) then grill on the top most level at 230C for 15 minutes. Remove the chicken from the oven, turn it to the other side then baste generously with ghee, place back in the oven and grill for 15 more minutes.