If you’ve never made Indian food before, Tandoori Chicken is a great place to start, it’s a simple marinade with fairly easy to find spices, and it’s a really good chicken recipe for the BBQ. Served with a Mint Cucumber Raita, Turmeric Jasmine rice, and a flatbread Naan, cooked directly over the coals, this is a pretty impressive dish to cook on the grill.
My friend Benson and his wife Anugy are from India, he and I have lunch together every day at work. His wife is an amazing cook and he brings his lunch to work every day. His lunch is always the most amazing assortment of authentic homemade Indian cuisine. She spoils him with this food, and on a daily basis, I’m pretty jealous. I credit Anugy’s cooking for me wanting to be a better cook of Indian food, this Tandoori Chicken recipe is my best attempt I’ve made so far and probably the best Tandoori Chickens I’ve ever eaten. Although, I’ve never had Anugy’s Tandoori Chicken!
Tandoori Chicken is traditionally cooked in a Tandoor oven, which is a cylindrical wood-fired clay or metal grill that can get up to temps of 900F. The food, such as kebabs and Tandoori Chicken are suspended in the chimney portion of the oven to roast at high temperatures giving them a wonderful smoky flavor. A flatbread called Naan is pressed against the side of the chimney, the bread becomes blistered, smoky and charred cooking in a matter of minutes.
Unfortunately, the bad news is I don’t have a tandoor oven, I wish I did. The good news, however, is that both Tandoori Chicken and Naan can be cooked directly on a grill with excellent results!
Although some restaurants add red food coloring to give it sort of a neon red color. Traditionally the intense fiery red color comes from the Kashmiri red chili powder in the marinade. I choose not to use food coloring in mine, just a personal preference, I think the color should come from the spices and be as authentic as possible.
Traditionally, I believe Tandoori Chicken should be skinless chicken that is still on the bone. For drumsticks and thighs, I leave the chicken on the bone, for breasts I like to cook it more like a kebab.
Here is my Tandoori Chicken Recipe:
- 4 Chicken Breasts, Cut into thirds
- 1 Cup Plain Yogurt
- 2 Tablespoons Garlic Paste, microplane or food processor
- 2 Tablespoons Ginger Paste, microplane or food processor
- 1 Teaspoon Garam Masala
- 1 Teaspoon Chaat Masala
- 1 Tablespoon Kashmiri Red Chili Powder
- 1 Teaspoon Salt
- 1 Lemon, Juice
-Remove the skin from the breasts, cut into thirds, 2-inch by 2-inch pieces
-Combine the lemon juice, salt, and Kashmiri red chili powder and pour over the chicken, toss well to coat the chicken thoroughly, let sit for 30 minutes
-Combine the remaining marinade ingredients and pour onto the chicken, toss well to coat the chicken thoroughly, let marinate at least 3 hours or overnight
-Light the charcoal at least 30 minutes before you want to cook, all the charcoal should be white, with a low flame.
-Do not cook the chicken directly over the coals, you want to cook them just off to one side of the actual flames. So, pile the charcoal on one side of the grill, leaving the other side empty
-Place the chicken on the grill off to the side away from direct flames.
-Cover the grill and let cook for 4-5 minutes
-Turn the chicken and continue to cook until an internal temperature reaches 165F