Whole or boneless pieces of chicken marinated in yoghurt and spices are cooked in the tandoor. Fire up your Tandoor about 30-40 minutes in advance of being ready to cook the chicken.
Main ingredients (enough for 4):
1kg skinless chicken thigh fillets or 1.5 kg whole chicken pieces
2 teaspoons coriander seeds
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 onion, roughly chopped
3 cloves fresh garlic crushed
5cm piece fresh ginger peeled and roughly chopped
250ml natural yoghurt greek style
grated rind of 1 lemon
3 tablespoons lemon juice
2 teaspoons white vinegar
1 teaspoon Sweet Paprika
2 teaspoons garam masala
1/2 teaspoon tandoori food colour*
lemon wedges to serve (optional)
1-2 medium potatoes to act as heat shields during cooking
* The tandoori colouring agent gives this dish its vibrant orange/red colour. It can be obtained from most good asian spice sellers. If you can not obtain tandoori colouring agent, you can substitute it with beetroot powder (this provides more of a red colour). The colouring agent adds little if no taste and leaving it out will not change the excellent flavour of the dish.
Place a frying pan over low heat and dry-roast the coriander seeds until aromatic. Remove and dry roast the cumin seeds. Grind the roasted seeds to a fine powder using a spice grinder or mortar and pestle. In a food processor, blend freshly ground spice and the remaining ingredients (except the chicken) to form a smooth paste. Season with salt to taste. Marinate the chicken in the spicy yoghurt mix for at least 3 hours, or overnight if you can - this will add more depth of flavour. If you are using whole chicken pieces, put 2 or 3 cuts across each piece down to the bone with a sharp knife to help the marinade get in. Turn the chicken occasionally in the marinade to ensure that all sides are well covered.
Slide the chicken along the skewers leaving a gap at the top and bottom (see “using Tandoor skewers” page). Try leave a small gap between each pice of chicken. Cut the potato into pieces and slide a piece on each skewer so that it sits just under the last piece of chicken to act as a heat shield when cooking in the Tandoor (see “using Tandoor skewers” page). As you get more skilled, you may wish to skip using the potato. Then place the skewers in the Tandoor and close the lid to be adjacent the skewers Cooking time of the chicken will vary depending on the temperature of the Tandoor. As a guide only, cook boneless chicken pieces for about 10-15 minutes, and whole chickens pieces for about 15-20 minutes in the Tandoor at a medium to hot temperature - about 240oC. Take the skewers out of the Tandoor rest the meat for about 10 minutes - lean the skewers against something or drill some holes in a heavy block of wood and stand the skewers upright with the tips positioned in the holes. You can rest the meat for longer if desired and this can help you plan you dinner party. You may wish to cover the chicken with some foil during the resting period to stop pesky flies form having a tandoori dinner! When you are just about ready to eat, baste the chick with cooking oil or ghee and place it back in the tandoor (making sure it is still nice and hot) for about 5 minutes to finish of the cooking process and promote a nice bit of charing.
If you want to cook naan bread to accompany the tandoori chicken, keep the Tandoor up to temperature so that it is ready to use just before your serve.
The resulting chicken is a dry style dish, but very tasty - so serve with something to counter the dryness, for example a riata. You can also make a nice sauce to pour over the cooked tandoori chicken from the spiced yoghurt mixture used to marinade the chicken. Just make a bit extra of the marinade and simmer about 2/3 cup of it with 1/4 cup of condensed tomato soup. Pour a little of the warm sauce over the chicken to serve.
Rice and freshly cooked garlic naan are also great with tandoori chicken. You can easily cook 6-7 naans in a few minutes just before you sit down to eat!
Tandoori whole chicken pieces cooking in the Tandoor
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