Here in the bay area we have an amazing Indian food scene – and the best Indian restaurants feature tandoori. Named after the extremely hot ovens they use, called Tandoors – it’s about finding the right spice rub, and the right ingredients to infuse your food with the spices of Indian cuisine.
Traditional tandoors produce moist, smoky meat because the fierce heat allows protein molecules on the meat’s surface to cross-link and contract, trapping moisture inside. Juices fall on the coals along with rendered fat, creating smoke that flavors the food.
To try and duplicate some of that magic – this recipe calls for baking the chicken in a low-temperature oven until almost done, then gave it a quick broil to char the exterior. To get flavor into the meat, the recipe turned to a salt-spice rub made with garam masala, cumin, and chili powder bloomed in oil with ginger and garlic. and while it might feel counterintuitive? The key to this recipe is massaging the spice rub into chicken pieces to lock in juices and infuse flavor, then left them to sit.
Following a dunk in yogurt flavored with the same spice mix, the chicken is ready for the oven. The results? Juicy, lightly charred, well-seasoned meat with just the right degree of tenderness.
While both my hubby and I agree that it’s not “true tandoori” – it’s the absolute best method I’ve found to get us at least close. It’s a great dish to make when you want to impress friends with some food that LOOKS complicated – – but honestly – the whole process takes just a few minutes. For home cooking – this is a five star home run of a recipe. Enjoy!
Home Cooked ‘Serious Tandoori Chicken’
- 2tablespoonsvegetable oil
- 6mediumgarlic cloves, minced or pressed through garlic press (about 2 tablespoons)
- 2tablespoonsgrated fresh ginger
- 1tablespoongaram masala
- 2teaspoonsground cumin
- 2teaspoonschili powder
- 1cupplain whole-milk yogurt
- 4tablespoonsjuicefrom 2 limes, plus 1 lime, cut into wedges
- 2teaspoonstable salt
- 3poundsbone-in, skin-on chicken parts (breasts, thighs, and drumsticks, or a mix, with breasts cut in half), trimmed of excess fatand skin removed
1. Heat oil in small skillet over medium heat until shimmering. Add garlicand ginger and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add garam masala, cumin,and chili powder; continue to cook until fragrant, 30 to 60 seconds longer.Transfer half of garlic-spice mixture to medium bowl; stir in yogurt and 2tablespoons lime juice and set aside.
2. In large bowl, combine remaining garlic-spice mixture, remaining 2tablespoons lime juice, and salt. Using sharp knife, lightly score skinned side of each piece of chicken, making 2 or 3 shallow cuts about 1 inch apart and about 1/8 inch deep; transfer to bowl. Using hands, gently massage salt-spice mixture into chicken until all pieces are evenly coated; let stand at room temperature 30 minutes.
3. Adjust oven rack to upper-middle position (about 6 inches from heating element) and heat oven to 325 degrees. Pour yogurt mixture over chicken and toss until chicken is evenly coated with thick layer. Arrange chicken pieces, scored-side down, on wire rack set in foil-lined, rimmed baking sheet or broiler pan. Discard excess yogurt mixture. Bake chicken until instant-read thermometer inserted into thickest part of chicken registers 125 degrees for breasts and 130 for legs and thighs, 15 to 25 minutes. (Smaller pieces may cook faster than larger pieces. Transfer chicken pieces to plate as they reach correct temperature.)
4. After removing chicken from oven, turn oven to broil and heat 10 minutes.
Once broiler is heated, flip chicken pieces over and broil until chicken is
lightly charred in spots and instant-read thermometer inserted into thickest
part of chicken registers 165 degrees for breasts and 175 for legs and
thighs, 8 to 15 minutes. Transfer chicken to large plate, tent loosely with
foil, and rest 5 minutes. Serve with chutney or relish, passing lime wedges