I love my father as the stars – he’s a bright shining example and a happy twinkling in my heart. -Adabella Radici
First, a little bio about Tandoori Chicken… which in my opinion should probably be named the national bird of India, due to its popularity! “Tandoori chicken is a popular Indian and Pakistani dish consisting of roasted chicken prepared with yogurt and spices. The name comes from the type of cylindrical clay oven, a tandoor, in which the dish is traditionally prepared.” -Wikipedia.
When you think back to a signature dish at home what is it? For me one of those dishes is my Dad’s Tandoori Chicken. In our house we had two head chefs growing up, my Mom & my Dad. My Dad is always in the kitchen experimenting with recipes, feeding us home grown vegetables and herbs, encouraging us to “play” with our food and relish each moment. Now don’t get me wrong, my mom cooks the day to day meals and many of those are my favorites too, but my Dad really does the experimenting around the kitchen.
Sometimes Many a times, it works out great and other times not so much… say when I need a recipe. You see, my Dad is a firm believer in “there are no recipes”, it all just comes from your heart (and a bit of tasting here and there). I literally have to follow him around the kitchen like a little girl (still do this :]) while he is concocting a dish so that I can jot down any and every ingredient he is using.
Several years ago when my Dad purchased a tandoor, my friends were shocked. Afterall, you really only used to see those in restaurants. My brother and I were so excited! For years we had relished Dad’s Tandoori chicken cooked on the grill or in the oven, but this was it, this would make it completely authentic! I can’t tell you how many people have tried this chicken and instantly fallen in love. The Husband looks forward to it every time we visit my parents in Florida, my mother in-law in India claims it’s the best Tandoori chicken she’s ever tasted, and my brother and I? Well, we are officially Tandoori Chicken snobs. Yeah, I’ll say it with no shame, nothing else compares to the fresh hot out of the tandoor, juicy, full of flavor Tandoori Chicken cooked by Dad.
Below are three ways to cook your tandoori chicken (on the grill or in the oven, in case you don’t have a tandoor) and a few helpful tips from my Dad. This recipe is dear to my heart especially because of the memories associated with the man who makes it best. This would be a great menu item for your Father’s Day BBQ, or any gathering.
Wishing all the Father’s out there a Happy Father’s Day Weekend, and a special wish for you Dad, my hero 🙂
Dad’s tandoori chicken tips:
– Add paprika rather then dye for that sultry red color
– When mixing the yogurt marinade, taste for salt adjustment, this is the perfect time since it hasn’t been mixed with the raw meat yet.
– Baste, baste, baste. This is crucial to ensuring your chicken comes out juicy, tender, and full of flavor.
- 1 chicken (3 to 3½ pounds), cut into 10-12 pieces/skin removed
- 1 cup whole milk yogurt
- 3 tablespoons lemon juice
- ½ tablespoon ginger paste
- ½ tablespoon garlic paste
- 1 teaspoon fresh coarse ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
- 3 teaspoons paprika (paprika has very little heat, this is for the red color)
- 2 teaspoons ground red chili powder (can use cayenne powder)
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 3 teaspoons olive oil
- 1¼ teaspoons ground coriander
- 2 teaspoons salt (adjust to your liking)
- 2 teaspoons dried fenugreek leaves
- Using a sharp knife, cut shallow incisions in the chicken pieces at about ½ -inch intervals. In a large bowl, combine the lemon juice, 1 teaspoon of salt, paprika, and turmeric. Add the chicken pieces and mix to coat. Let marinade for 20 minutes. In a separate bowl, combine the yogurt, olive oil, garlic, ginger, and remaining spices. Add yogurt mixture to the chicken and mix well. (Reserve ¼ cup of the yogurt mixture -this is what you will baste with later). Let marinate for atleast 3-4 hours (up to a day).
- On the grill: Grill the chicken over medium high heat, after 10-15 minutes baste generously with a pastry brush. Turn and cook, basting the other side 10 minutes later. After about 15 more minutes/or until chicken is just done cooking, baste once more lightly before removing from grill.
- In the oven: Preheat oven for 425 F. Line a large roasting pan with foil, lay a rack over the pan so air can circulate under the roasting chicken. Once the oven is hot, place the pan with the chicken in the oven. Turn the chicken pieces after 20 minutes of cooking and baste generously with a pastry brush. Roast for another 10-15 minutes, turn the pieces and baste again. Cook for an additional 7-10 minutes. Turn the oven off and let the chicken rest in the closed oven for 10-15 minutes more.
- In the tandoor: Household tandoors usually heat up to 400-550 F (depending on size). Commercial tandoors can heat up to 900 F. This method is if you are using a small-medium household tandoor oven. Thread the marinated chicken pieces onto metal tandoor skewers, leaving about 1 inch between each piece. Leave at least 6-7 inches between the tip and the last piece of chicken placed on the skewer. Lower the skewers, tip first, into the tandoor. The tips will rest on the coals in the bottom of the oven. Let the chicken cook for 10-15 minutes. Lift the skewers out and baste chicken generously with a pastry brush. Insert the skewers in the tandoor and let cook for additional 10-15 minutes. Remove and baste again and cook for an additional 7-10 minutes or until tender. Remove the skewers from the tandoor and let cool for 10 minutes before removing chicken.
- Garnish chicken with fresh lemons or limes, cilantro, and red onion slices. Serve with naan (Indian flatbread)