A tandoor is a North Indian clay oven that is about three feet high, usually buried in the ground up to the neck. Live coals are placed in the bottom, and skewers with meat and poultry are angled at a suitable distance from the heat to cook them. It’s the Indian version of a barbecue.
Yield: Serves 8
16 skinless bone-in chicken thighs, or thighs and drumsticks (about 5 lbs/2.5 kg)
1 cup (250 ml) plain nonfat yogurt
Juice of 2 lemons
1 tbsp (15 ml) minced peeled ginger root
1 tbsp (15 ml) minced garlic
2 tsp (10 ml) coriander powder
2 tsp (10 ml) cumin powder
2 tsp (10 ml) garam masala
1 tsp (5 ml) cayenne pepper
1½ tsp (7 ml) salt or to taste
Few drops red food coloring (optional)
Juice of 2 limes or additional lemons
1 onion, cut into rings, for garnish
Lemon wedges, for garnish
Preheat oven to 375°F (190°C)
Equipment: Shallow baking pan, lined with foil
1. Rinse chicken and pat dry. Cut long diagonal slits against the grain, almost to the bone.
2. In a shallow bowl, mix together yogurt, lemon juice, ginger, garlic, coriander, cumin, garam masala, cayenne pepper and salt. Add red food coloring, if using. Add chicken, turning to coat and making sure marinade goes into all slits. Cover and marinate in refrigerator for about 2 hours or for up to 12 hours.
3. Remove chicken from marinade and place in prepared shallow baking pan. Discard any remaining marinade. Bake in preheated oven until juices run clear when chicken is pierced, about 45 minutes.
4. Transfer pieces onto heated platter and squeeze lime juice on top while still warm. Discard accumulated juices. Garnish with sliced onion rings and lemon wedges.
Tandoori chicken is best cooked on a charcoal grill. Buy split chickens or leg quarters if using this method. Grease barbecue grill and preheat to medium-high. Place chicken on grill and cook, covered, for 20 minutes. Turn and cook until juices run clear when chicken is pierced, 20 to 25 minutes.
Ginger and garlic can be minced in a blender, grated on a ginger grater or purchased already prepared in jars.