Indian Appetizerindian tandoori chicken

Chicken Marinated In Yogurt
Tandoori Murg
(Serves 8)

Tandoori chicken is a rich coral color. The dish gets its name from the tandoor, an earthenware oven used in its cooking. You can buy tandors in speciality kitchen shops, but this recipe uses a plain-old kitchen oven.

Chicken and Rub
3 lb. chicken legs and thighs (separated)*
2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
1/2 tsp. red chili powder
1 tsp. cumin powder
Seeds of 2 green cardamoms (ground)
1/2 tsp. garam masala (see sidebar)
2 cloves garlic (crushed or minced)

1 1/4 C plain yogurt
1/4 C lemon juice
1/2 C melted butter

Rub: prick chicken with a fork. With a sharp knife, make several gashes all over each piece to help chicken absorb rub and marinade. Using a food processor, make initial rub by combining salt, pepper, chili powder, cardamoms, garam masala, and garlic. Smear spices over chicken pieces and let sit for 1 hour. 

Marinate: Combine yogurt with lemon juice and coat chicken. Cover and let marinate in the refrigerator at least 6 hours; overnight is even better. Pour melted butter over chicken.

Cook: preheat oven to 400. Leave chicken uncovered and cook 15 minutes till tender. During cooking, turn frequently to attain a deep, rich color.

* Use larger chicken pieces and serve tandoori as a main course. Some cooks even leave the chicken whole, but pieces are easier to handle.

| See more Indian recipes |

Tips & Glossary

Many of the ingredients used for Indian cooking probably aren’t in your spice shelf. And you may find them only at specialty Indian stores. So to avoid frustration, make a list of the items you need before trying out the recipes.

Watch out for those chilies! Unless you love the real hot stuff, reduce the amount of chili called for in the recipe.

Asafoetida: a powdered spice related to the fennel family.

Basmati Rice: literally “Queen of fragrance." This rice, cultivated in India, is known for its delicate flavor and fragrance.

Besan: also known as “gram flour,” made of ground chana dal, like chickpeas, only smaller and lighter in color.

Cardamom: related to the ginger family. Pods (green, brown, or black) are the best way to store cardamom. But high-quality ground is also available. A rule of thumb: 10 pods = 1 1/2 tsp. ground.

Chili: any small hot pepper, as opposed to larger, milder bell peppers; widely used in Indian cuisine.

Coriander: aka cilantro, Chinese, or Mexican parsley. Both fresh leaves and dried ground seeds are used in Indian, Asian and Mexican cuisines.

Cumin: an aromatic, kin to parsley and carrot plant; an important ingredient in chili powder. Used especially in Indian curries. It has an earthy, peppery flavor.

Curry: a generic term for a soups and stews flavored with variety of spices—most often cumin, coriander, and tumeric, but others as well. You can make curry powder or buy it commercially.

Garam Masala: literally, “hot spice,” usually a mixture of cinnamon, cumin, cloves, nutmeg, and green cardamom seed or black cardamom pods. McCormick makes it; even Cooks Illustrated rated it highly.

Ghee: clarified butter. Melt 1 lb. unsalted butter over low heat for 20 minutes (careful not to burn), remove from heat and skim away solids. Strain through cheesecloth into a separate container and keep…forever. It doesn’t need to be refrigerated. If you buy commercial ghee, make sure it comes from real butter, not hydrogenated oils.

Saffron: stigma from the crocus family; it’s the most expensive spice in the world. Buy saffron threads; before using them, steep in a little hot water for 10 minutes to release flavor.


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