Tandoori Chicken on the Grill
I am a flexitarian like NYT’s Minimalist, Mark Bittman. I love meat, but I don’t need gigantic portion sizes to be satisfied. I want food that is both nutritious and delicious and that does not take forever to cook, and does not use ultra expensive or hard to find ingredients. Since I cook for the week on the weekend it also has to reheat well. This chicken is my fall back both for dinners during the week and entertaining. It is easy to make and delicious and you can use the leftovers in everything from tacos to soup.
Tandoori chicken is an extremely popular restaurant dish in India, the chicken is marinated in a yogurt marinade and cooked in a large clay oven called a tandoor, hence the name. As far as I know people usually don’t have tandoors at home in India. Grilling is a good alternative to baking in a tandoor.
I buy one of those gigantic trays of skin on and bone-in thighs. You can substitute breast meat if you insist but thighs are tastier and won’t dry out . They are also cheaper. You will have to plan in advance though, since this chicken is best when left to marinate overnight. You do need spices for this dish, lots of them. That is not a problem for me since my pantry is well equipped with spices. This recipe is for 1 tray of chicken thighs, about 5 pounds of chicken.
For the marinade
1 tbsp grated ginger
1tbsp garlic chopped
2 tsp cayenne
2 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp turmeric
4 tsp kosher salt
Juice of 2 limes
1/2 cup yogurt* ( I use non-fat yogurt but you can use full fat if you like)
drops of red food coloring (optional)
Skin the chicken thighs and make gashes on both sides using a knife. Juice the two limes and add the kosher salt. Put the lime and salt mixture in the gashes. This will help tenderize the chicken. Set aside for about half an hour.
Grind the ginger and garlic in the blender to make a paste. In a glass bowl add together the ginger garlic paste and all the dry spices, mix well. Now pour the marinade over the chicken thighs, make sure it reaches well into the gashes you made earlier. Now cover and set aside in the fridge for at least six hours, preferably overnight.
When the weather is nice, the best way to cook the chicken is on a grill, takes about 15 minutes on each side. When it is raining or too cold to grill, you can cook the chicken in the oven, however it will not be as juicy or delicious as the one cooked on the grill. Use either a charcoal or a gas grill. Grill for 10 to 15 minutes on both sides or until juices run clear. Serve with a lime wedge. I usually serve this chicken with naan and yogurt raita.
* You may have to make a trip to your local Indian grocery store if your supermarket’s ethnic aisle does not carry tandoori chicken masala or spice mix, you can also order it online. There are a number of recipes to make your own tandoori chicken masala but I haven’t found one that is as good as the boxed spice mixes mentioned above. You can store the unused masala in a cool place in your pantry. The above marinade can also be used with shrimp or to make boneless shish kebabs with chicken or chicken tikka.