Making the best authentic Indian Chicken Tandoori at home involves marinating the chicken in a flavorful mix of spices and yogurt and then cooking it at high heat to replicate the effect of a traditional tandoor oven. Here’s a detailed guide:
- Chicken pieces (legs, breasts, or a whole chicken cut into pieces)
- Plain yogurt (about 1 cup)
- Lemon juice (2 tablespoons)
- Ginger-garlic paste (2 tablespoons)
- Tandoori masala powder (2-3 tablespoons, available at Indian stores)
- Red chili powder (to taste)
- Turmeric powder (1 teaspoon)
- Garam masala (1 teaspoon)
- Cumin powder (1 teaspoon)
- Coriander powder (1 teaspoon)
- Salt (to taste)
- Oil or melted butter (for basting)
- Red food coloring (optional, for the traditional color)
- Fresh cilantro and slices of lemon for garnish
Preparing the Chicken
- Clean and Prepare: Clean the chicken and make deep cuts in the flesh so the marinade can penetrate.
- First Marinade: Mix lemon juice, salt, and red chili powder. Rub this mixture all over the chicken and let it sit for about 20 minutes. This helps to tenderize the chicken and infuse it with basic flavors.
Preparing the Marinade
- Mix Marinade Ingredients: In a large bowl, combine yogurt, ginger-garlic paste, tandoori masala, turmeric powder, garam masala, cumin powder, coriander powder, and red food coloring if using. Mix well to form a smooth paste.
- Marinate the Chicken: Apply this marinade thoroughly over the chicken, ensuring it goes into the cuts and under the skin. Marinate for at least 3 hours, preferably overnight, in the refrigerator. The longer it marinates, the more flavorful it will be.
Cooking the Chicken
- Prepare for Cooking: Preheat your oven to the highest temperature, around 450°F (230°C), or use a grill. If using an oven, line a baking tray with aluminum foil and place a rack over it to collect drippings.
- Cook the Chicken: Place the chicken pieces on the rack. Make sure they are not touching each other for even cooking. Cook in the preheated oven or grill. If using an oven, cook for about 20-30 minutes on one side, then turn the pieces over and cook for another 15-20 minutes.
- Basting: Halfway through cooking, baste the chicken with oil or melted butter. This keeps it moist and adds richness.
- Check for Doneness: The chicken is done when its juices run clear, and the inside is no longer pink. You can also use a meat thermometer to check if the internal temperature has reached 165°F (75°C).
- Char for Authenticity: For a more authentic tandoori experience, you can char the chicken slightly using a kitchen torch or by placing it under a hot grill for a few minutes.
- Garnish and Serve: Once cooked, let the chicken rest for a few minutes. Garnish with fresh cilantro and lemon slices. Serve with naan or rice and sides like mint chutney or raita (yogurt dip).
- Marination Time: The key to flavorful tandoori chicken is the marination time. Overnight marination gives the best results.
- Yogurt: Use thick yogurt for the marinade to stick well to the chicken.
- Traditional Tandoor: If you have access to a tandoor, use it for an authentic flavor.
- No Red Food Coloring: To avoid artificial colors, you can use paprika or beetroot powder for a natural red color.
Enjoy your homemade Chicken Tandoori with its rich, smoky, and tangy flavors, a true delight for the taste buds!