Tandoori chicken

Tandoori chicken

By
From
Encyclopedia of Food and Cookery
Serves
3-4

A great and famous dish of northern India, named after the tandoor (clay oven) in which the spiced chicken is baked. Tandoori chicken came into India from across the North West Frontier and beyond, from the Turks and the descendants of Genghis Khan – a fascinating example of the way in which food interlocks with history.

When cooked in the traditional way, the chicken is threaded on a spit and baked in the tandoor over hot coals, but it can be cooked on an electric rotisserie or on a rack set in a roasting tin, and finished on the barbecue if you wish.

Ingredients

Quantity Ingredient
1.5kg whole chicken

Yoghurt masala

Quantity Ingredient
3-4 garlic cloves, chopped
2.5 cm piece fresh ginger, chopped
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
pinch nutmeg
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
185g plain yoghurt
1 tablespoon peanut oil
1 tablespoon tomato sauce
2 teaspoons lemon juice
2-3 drops red food colouring

Lemon spice sauce

Quantity Ingredient
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
1 tablespoon peanut oil
2 teaspoons lemon juice

To serve

Quantity Ingredient
onion, chopped into rings
radishes
red or green peppers
chillies
flat bread

Method

  1. Remove chicken skin but leave chicken whole. Cut 2 slits about 1 cm deep in thighs and breast.
  2. To make yoghurt masala, put all ingredients in a blender and purée, or grind garlic, ginger, cumin seeds, nutmeg and salt to a paste with a mortar and pestle or end of a rolling pin in a bowl, then mix in remaining ingredients. Spread half the masala over the chicken, rubbing in well, and refrigerate, covered, overnight.
  3. Next day, bring chicken to room temperature, then place on a rotisserie over a pan, or on a rack in a shallow roasting tin. Pour over remaining masala.
  4. Bake in a preheated hot oven (200°C) for 15 minutes, then reduce heat to moderate (180°C) and bake for 1 hour more, basting frequently with pan juices.
  5. To make lemon spice sauce, mix together ingredients.
  6. Remove chicken from the oven and cut into 6 pieces. Coat chicken pieces with any remaining masala and sprinkle with lemon spice sauce. Return to a hot oven (200°C) for 10–15 minutes, or grill under a preheated grill or over hot coals until dark reddish-brown and crisp.
  7. Serve chicken on a large heated platter, with onion rings, radishes, sliced green or red peppers and, for those who appreciate something hot, a few chillies. Pass a flat bread such as chapatis.
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