Tandoori chicken is a popular dish originating in India and easily recognizable from its distinctive red color. The color comes from the chili powder (kashmiri or hot red chili powder) or the cayenne which gives it the flavor and the name. Some versions of tandoori chicken use saffron, resulting in a more orange color. A tandoor (clay) oven was traditionally used to bake the chicken slowly, but some versions today can be grilled on an indoor or outdoor barbecue. Yogurt is used to marinate the chicken overnight, and helps tenderize the meat and give it a tangy taste.
This recipe has been adapted for western tastes – if you prefer more spice, add another 1/4 teaspoon of dried chili powder. It makes six servings, and should be accompanied by Basmati rice or naan, and a light cucumber or dark green salad.
5 to 6 pounds of chicken breast, cut up
1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
3 teaspoons of table salt
1 cup homemade or organic yogurt
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
2 teaspoons coriander seeds
1 1 inch piece of fresh ginger root, peeled
2 cloves of garlic, or 2 teaspoons of diced garlic in oil
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1/4 teaspoon of dark red chili powder OR kashmiri chili powder
Use a food processor to mix lemon juice, yogurt, and the spices. Place the chicken pieces in a single layer in a glass pyrex dish. Pour the yogurt marinade over the chicken pieces and cover with saran wrap. Marinade overnight,turning the chicken once to ensure it is coated on all sides.
The chicken can be roasted in a greased roasting pan (the same one you use for Sunday roasts or turkeys), covered, at 375 for about 1 hour or until the chicken is browned and crisp. If you prefer, tandoori chicken can be grilled on your outdoor barbeque, so if you are planning to do this keep your chicken pieces large so they can be handled easily.
Garnish the cooked tandoori chicken with fresh lemon wedges and fresh coriander leaves.