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Wednesday, 9 January 2013

Tandoori Chicken 

I never thought I'd actually say this, but its official. I am suffering post holiday blues. Aditi started school again this week, and for a change, I get to relax a bit at home, but suddenly the house is quieter and lonelier and the blues are really settling in. Its been hard to do anything, including scraping myself out of bed in the mornings, when all I want to do is gag the cat and snuggle down into my duvet. 

So what do I do to combat this?

Well, for starters, I watch a lot of funny cat videos (ha, bet you weren't expecting that :)) And then I cook food that reminds me of the warm tropical breezes of India and my home. This tandoori chicken dish is a Indian classic, and rightly so. Chicken drumsticks are marinated in warm, fragrant spices and yogurt that tenderises them, and then grilled in a tandoor to make a mouthwatering appetizer, or if you're anything like me, a whole meal. Oh, and by the way, did you know that India is one of the countries that has a very high consumption of chicken drumsticks? So much so, that the breasts are exported, while the drumsticks are sold domestically. That was a funny piece of info I came across during my endless quest for useless knowledge :)

A tandoor, or an outdoor clay oven is traditionally used to make tandoori chicken, along with other delicacies like naan or tandoori roti. A distinct lack of one of those means that I have had to improvise to get that charred, tandoori flavour. If this was summertime, these drumsticks would go straight on to a barbeque on the deck, but again, the masses of snow on said deck made that an impossibility as well. So I ended up making these in a very hot oven in my trusty Microstoven baking dish, probably one of the best pieces of baking equipment I own (PS - this is not a sponsored post, I bought this dish on sale from Sears last year, and I've just been really impressed with how well it works for recipes like this one) Using this baking dish actually gave me the charred taste without the hassle of having to scrub it after. 

Tandoori chicken is an Indian classic for a reason. No Indian celebration is complete without mounds of these tasty, delicately spiced, grilled chicken pieces, nestled in cucumber and tomato slices, sprinkled over with cilantro and with lemon or lime slices beside them to squeeze over. Traditionally tandoori chicken is served with a yogurt raita and a mint/ chutney, which adds another level of freshness and flavour to this simple, elegant dish. I like to keep it simple and serve it with just plain yogurt that I season with a little salt, pepper, cayenne and a squeeze of lemon juice. But you can easily go all out on the dips as well, and most Indian households certainly do. 

I ate a lot of tandoori chicken when I was at university. Almost every little shack on campus served this dish, and it was a popular choice at parties and get-togethers. Ocasionally we would even be lucky enough to get some in our residence dining halls, and those were the days the food halls were pretty packed. But pretty much every Indian roadside dhaba and posh restaurant does these treats, and its truly a unifying dish for North and South Indians, and of course, any Indian restaurant worth their salt will do this dish out here in Canada as well :) Much like butter chicken is, in a way, I suppose.


Tandoori Chicken 

I like using my homemade tandoori masala spice mix and garam masala for this dish and I really like the fragrance of my spice blends, but there is absolutely no reason why you can't use shop bought. A note of caution though, store bought tandoori masalas almost always have salt in them, so you'll need to adjust the salt in this recipe. But if you do have the time and inclination, make your own spice mixes, because the difference is really something else. 

I also don't use red food colouring in my chicken, as I really feel that it doesn't need it at all. If you want the chicken pieces to be a bit redder, then I suggest adding some unsmoked paprika to the marinade which adds the colour without spice.

Recipe:  
(Printable Recipe

4 - 6 chicken drumsticks, ideally skin on
1 - 2 tablespoons unscented oil    

Marinade:  

½ cup plain yogurt
4 tablespoons tandoori masala (try my homemade tandoori masala spice mix

1 teaspoon Kashmiri chilli powder (optional)
1 tablespoon unscented oil 
1 clove of garlic, crushed
½ inch piece of ginger, grated 
1 teaspoon garam masala (homemade is delicious
Juice of ½ lemon
Salt to taste

To serve: 

Lemon slices
Yogurt Raita (plain yogurt, chopped cucumber, chopped cilantro and salt to taste) or Mint Chutney 

Method: 

Whisk together all the ingredients for the marinade, adding the chilli powder, if using. Rub into the chicken pieces and marinate for at least 4 hours, or ideally overnight, in the refrigerator. You can also place the pieces in a ziplock bag and freeze for future use, thaw before cooking. 

When ready to make the tandoori chicken, preheat oven to 450 F.

Take out marinated chicken, and bring to room temperature. 

Brush a heavy baking tray with about 1 - 2 tablespoons oil, then arrange the drumsticks in a single layer. Bake for about 20 - 25 minutes, depending on the size of your drumsticks, turning once or twice, or until cooked through. 

Alternatively, barbeque for between 15 - 20 minutes, depending on the size of the drumsticks, until cooked through. 

Serve with lemon slices, yogurt raita or mint chutney.  

Tandoori Chicken

18 comments :

  1. That looks so delicious, Michelle! I'm the kind of person who can never say no to tandoori chicken, even if it's 5 in the morning :)

    But I've always used Shan's masala. I'll try your homemade masala next time so I can tell people I made everything from scratch ;)

    Thank you for sharing this recipe!

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    1. Thanks Nadia. Once you make your own masalas you'll be surprised at how fresh all the curries taste, its just another experience. I keep aside one day in, say, a few weeks to make all my masalas and the house smells divine afterwards :) I hope you enjoy this version.

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  2. Your name doesn't tell that you are an Indian, but your daughter's name does. So I assume that you are married to an Indian and spent a lot of time in India. The way you write is really impressive and I loved reading about the info you posted about tandoori chicken: truly, this is an Indian classic! Your chicken looks delish!!

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    1. Purabi, its the other way around actually, haha :) I was born and brought up in India, in a Catholic family from Mangalore, which is why the very Western name. I look very much Indian in person, though you can never tell from my name. My husband is Caucasian, and the reason we called our girl Aditi is because we wanted her to have a Indian name that would connect her with half of her heritage, especially since we knew that we probably wouldn't get back to India as often.

      Thank you so much for your lovely comments on my writing, its all my lovely readers and commenters that are so encouraging and keep me going. I hope you enjoy the recipe and please do let me know how you liked it!

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  3. Chin up, dear! Spring is on its way and with spicy food like these legs you'll be perked up before long! I am planting paperwhites this week so that I will have the scent of Spring in a couple weeks!

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    1. Thanks Susan... I can't wait for spring and summer! You can take the girl out of the tropics but you can't take the tropics out of the girl. We have a while to go before thinking of our garden, but husband is definitely getting excited :)

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  4. You may not be surprised to hear that I've eaten an awful lot of tandoori chicken over the years and yours is making me seriously hungry. I've never understood the desire to make it as red as possible and I've noticed that a lot of restaurants have abandoned the colouring these days. Drumsticks are definitely my favourite - very satisfying to eat and relatively cheap too. Around 30 years ago I used to think that chicken breast was the more refined and classy cut but when I said that to a Jamaican cook that I knew at the time he couldn't stop laughing and I realised that I just might be mistaken.

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    1. LOL, I am liking this Jamaican cook of yours!!

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  5. I do love Tandoori chicken - never made it though, because I thought it would be too complicated. Obviously it isn't! Thanks for the note on the food colouring. I didn't know this was how the colour was achieved. Good to know it's not necessary - have a few friends allergic to the red colouring
    PS... had an awful time trying to comment with my iPad. Tried 3x last night and gave up - the comment box kept freezing up on me half way through. Came back this morning on my laptop!

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    1. Sorry about the comment difficulties Melissa... I dunno how to fix it to be honest... I don't own any Apple items, though my husband has an iPhone, so will have to check it out through that.

      Yes, red colouring is purely optional in all Indian dishes, tbh, I don't even know why they add colouring when I think natural colours of Indian food are so stunning. Its pretty easy to make this chicken, so do let me know how you like it when you try it!

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  6. Your description of the chicken nestled in tomatoes and served with yogurt had my mouth watering.

    Winter always looks a bit bleak after Christmas, suddenly that snow isn't all festive. It's just cold and annoying. I totally know where you are coming from!

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    1. I know exactly what you mean Stephanie!! Nothing to look forward to, and even Valentine's seems a bit blah... I need warmth to power me on :)

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  7. Great recipe. Thanks a lot for sharing. I have to try this one... :) Thanks!

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  8. Mouthwatering!!! I always use Kissan Tandoori Masala to make Tandoori Chicken but feel like I'm cheating...don't feel like I really made it when I use those pre made spices. Definitely will have to give yours a try! Love the clicks too!

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    1. Thanks Asiya... yes, its a different taste with homemade masalas, but tbh, everyone had their own recipes too. I have certainly made this with premade mixes, but I love coming up with my own versions, so slightly addicted to spices, in a way :)

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  9. Amazing tandoori drumsticks especially for people who love spices and tandoor food.

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  10. I wanted to try this soon, I have friends from India and she invited me to visit their country. My plan now is when that time comes, I'll cook this tandoori spiced chicken drumsticks. Love spices, and I told them about it that I really love hot and spicy. Thanks for this resources and I'll copy this and keep the recipe.

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