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Tandoori Chicken

This image courtesy of Brave New Pictures and Gregg Lowe

Like samosas, tandoori chicken has become a symbol for Indian food in the United States. Most Americans know this dish just as a sizzling plate of bright red, grilled chicken. Traditionally, tandoori chicken is marinated in a spicy yogurt sauce and cooked in a tandoor oven with temperatures that range from 500°F / 260°C to 900°F / 480°C. But I’ve got good news: It can also be made at home, on the grill, with the right spice combination. The only difference is in the color, which, I’m afraid, usually comes from the use of red food dye. Cook without it, and you’ll have a much healthier dish that’s just as delicious.

NotesTOOLS: You’ll need a food processor, a large mixing bowl, a whisk, a fork, and a grill.

VEGANIZE IT! Replace the chicken with 2 (14-ounce / 400-g) containers of cubed, extra-firm organic tofu, tempeh. or seitan. Instead of dairy yogurt, use soy or coconut yogurt. Cook for 25 minutes, turning once to ensure even cooking.

8 servings

Cooking Methodgrilling

CostModerate

Total Timea day or more

OccasionCasual Dinner Party, Family Get-together

Recipe Coursemain course

Dietary Considerationegg-free, peanut free, soy free, tree nut free

Equipmentgrill

Mealdinner

Taste and Texturecreamy, spiced

Ingredients

  • 1 cup / 100 g ginger, peeled and coarsely chopped
  • 1 cup / 140 g peeled garlic cloves
  • 1½ cups / 350 mL plain, unsweetened yogurt
  • 3 tablespoons / 20 g Tandoori Masala 
  • 2 tablespoons salt
  • 1 tablespoon red chile powder or cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon Garam Masala, plus more for sprinkling
  • 4 pounds skinless whole bone-in chicken, cut into 8-10 pieces (including cutting each breast in ½), or 2 pounds / 910 g boneless chicken
  • ½ lemon, for squeezing
  • Thinly sliced onion, for garnish
  • Chopped fresh cilantro, for garnish
  • Brown or white basmati rice, Roti, or Naan, for serving

Instructions

  1. In the bowl of a food processor, grind the ginger and garlic into a smooth, watery paste.

  2. Transfer the paste into a large mixing bowl. Add the yogurt, Tandoori Masala, salt, red chile powder, and Garam Masala and whisk until fully combined.

  3. Prepare the chicken by poking holes in it with a fork to help it absorb the yogurt marinade. Carefully add the pieces of chicken and gently stir until all the pieces are evenly coated. Cover and refrigerate for 6 hours to overnight.

  4. Preheat the grill to medium-high (350°F /180°C to 400°F /200°C), making sure the grill has been well oiled or sprayed with a nonstick cooking or grilling spray.

  5. Place the marinated pieces of chicken on the grill and cook, turning once to ensure even cooking, for up to 1 hour, until cooked through and the chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165°F /74°C. Your cooking time may differ, depending on your grill and how well done you prefer the chicken to be. We prefer it well done, Remove from the grill and transfer to a serving platter.

  6. Squeeze the ½ lemon over the cooked chicken. Sprinkle with some of the Garam Masala. Garnish with the onion and cilantro and serve hot over the brown or white basmati rice or with the Roti or Naan.

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