How many of you all remember walking past a restaurant and smelling all the amazing flavors, especially of a tandoori chicken? Well, I know that it is something that is very hard to forget. Even thinking about it makes you crave for it, right?!
These strong and smoky flavors are sure to do wonders on your taste buds. Even a hater of this tandoori chicken is sure to fall in love with once they taste it. I can bet you on the same.
My husband is not a lover of these tandoori items. Nevertheless, this tandoori chicken has become his all-time favorite and the most demanded meal in our home, in recent times. So, what makes him or most of the people fall in love with it immediately. I mean, WHAT NOT!
The spiciness, the smoky flavors, the taste and especially the soft and juicy chicken… oh man! It is one hell of a combination! So, what are the factors leading to its specialty? Right from the cut of the chicken to the marinade, everything plays a key role.
Generally, the whole leg of a chicken is used, meaning from the thigh to the leg. This is the most juiciest part of the chicken because of its higher fat content. If you are freaking about the fat content, do not worry at all. You can still enjoy having tandoori chicken with breast meat too!
Obviously, the cooking time changes for the breast cut of the meat. To enhance the juiciness of the chicken, we marinate it twice. Yes, you read that right! It is twice!
The first marinade is done to make the chicken pieces soft and tender. We use tenderizing agents like lemon juice. You can also use raw papaya paste in addition to make it even more tender. Anyways, the first marinade is quite simple and we marinate the chicken in the refrigerator for 2 hours.
After this, we marinate the chicken for the second time. This is the real tandoori chicken marinade with all the spices and especially curd. Here, we use hung curd, i.e. thick curd with no or less whey left. So, the reason why we use hung curd is that, this helps in the binding of all the spices along with the chicken. The more thick the marinade, the better it will stick to the chicken pieces.
The most important thing in marinating the chicken pieces is the time. It is a must that the chicken pieces marinate for a minimum of 8 hours, while marinating for the second time. So, the minimum recommended time for marinating is ten hours.
Although, marinating the chicken pieces for the second time, for about 24 hours will give very good results. Believe me when I say that, because I have experimented on its taste while marinating for 24 hours and 8 hours. The longer you marinate, the better are the flavors of the chicken.
You can use greek yogurt in place of hung curd or you can also hang some plain yogurt in a muslin cloth for a few hours so that most of the whey is discarded. You can also squeeze the cud in the muslin cloth to discard the water but be very careful and gentle while doing so.
Tandoori chicken gets its smoky flavors from cooking it in a tandoori oven. You can also impart the smoky flavors by the dhungar method where smoke from dropping some ghee or oil to a heated piece of black coal infuses with the marinated chicken pieces.
This is a simple recipe, only thing is that it takes time meaning that the marinating time is more but the time you spend in preparing the marinade is hardly 15 minutes put together. Also, it is a healthy recipe. It does not require much of oil use unlike other recipes especially while grilling it or cooking it in a tandoori oven.
Have this delicious tandoori chicken as an appetizer or pair it up with some roti, naan or even zafrani pulao for a scrumptious meal. Enjoy having it with your entire family. Stay safe; stay healthy! Happy cooking and eating! While you are here also checkout my other non-veg appetizers along with my Chicken Tikka Biryani – an amalgamation of smoky chicken tikkas and biryani.
Has meal planning been a little bit difficult during this lockdown? Look through my No Veggies, 21-Day Lockdown Series for ideas on what to cook during this lockdown.
- 4 whole chicken leg pieces (with thighs)
For the first marinade
- 3 tsp red chili powder
- 2 tbsp ginger-garlic-green chili paste
- 2 tbsp lemon juice
- salt, as required
For the second marinade
- 80 grams hung curd
- 1 tsp ginger-garlic-green chili paste
- 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
- 2 tsp kashmiri chili powder
- 1/2 tsp black pepper powder
- 1 tsp coriander powder
- 1 tsp cumin powder
- 1 tsp garam masala
- 2 tsp tandoori masala powder
- 1/4 tsp black salt
- 1 tsp smoked paprika powder
- 2 tsp crushed kasuri methi
- salt, as required
- 4 tbsp mustard oil
- Clean the chicken pieces and make gashes on them as shown.
- In a bowl, take all the ingredients required for the first marinade.
- Mix everything to form a paste.
- Massage the chicken pieces with the marinade. Cover it and let it marinate in the refrigerator for 1.5 to 2 hours.
- Take all the ingredients required for the second marinade in another bowl.
- Mix everything well to form a smooth paste.
- Coat all the chicken pieces with the second marinade. Cover it and let it marinate in the refrigerator for 8 hours.
- If you are using the stove top, then heat a tawa with a 2 tbsp of oil. Shake off the excess marinade, cover and cook the chicken pieces on both sides for 5 minutes each. Later grill it on a wire rack by placing the cooked chicken pieces on it and keeping it directly on flame for about 10 minutes, flipping in between.
- Serve it with some green chutney and some zafrani pulao.
- Make sure to marinate the chicken for the first time for atleast 2 hours and for the second time – atleast 8 hours.
- Apply the marinade into the gashes made in the chicken as well.
- Shake off the excess marinade from the chicken before cooking or grilling.
- If you are using an oven, then grill it on both sides at 180°C for 20 minutes flipping in between. Brush the chicken with some oil or butter while grilling.
- Instead of grilling it in a wire mesh as instructed earlier, you can also grill it in an oven for 10 minutes on both sides after half-cooking the chicken on the tawa.
- Adjust spice powders according to your taste.
- While adding salt in the second marinade, keep in mind that you have already added some salt in the first marinade.
- If you do not have smoked paprika, then skip it.
- Use mustard oil for the authentic taste. Replace it with any other oil if you do not have mustard oil.
- You can use red food color also for the brighter hue.