As a lover of Indian food, I searched and experimented for a long time before finally coming up with this recipe for genuine Indian restaurant-style tandoori chicken that you can make in your own home oven. This recipe was just voted best tandoori chicken in San Francisco by our "completely unbiased" review panel (consisting of several friends who have haunted San Francisco's Indian restaurants with us for the last few years!) Seriously, if you like Tandoori chicken, you are going to love this one -- and it's easy, on top of that... The quantities below make enough marinade for 4 generous servings -- we usually make a package each of 6 drumsticks and 6 thighs, but it would work equally well for a breast and leg quarter each for 4, as well.
For the marinade
- 1 cup plain yogurt (either whole or skim-milk)
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon allspice
- 1 teaspoon fresh coarse ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1 tablespoon finely minced garlic
- 1 tablespoon thai chili paste with garlic (optional, but recommended!)
- 12 pieces chicken (6 pc drumsticks and 6 pc. boneless or bone-in thighs, 4 breast halves and 4 leg quarters, etc)
- 3 slices of raw onions, separated into rings, for a garnish
- 1⁄2 lemon, cut into slices, for garnish
- In a small mixing bowl, stir together the yogurt and lemon juice. Add the spices, minced garlic, and chili paste, and whisk until you have a smooth, thick marinade.
- Put 6 pieces of the chicken in each of two zip-lock bags, and add 1/2 the marinade to each bag. Zip closed and knead the bags until the chicken is well-coated with marinade. Open bags slightly, squeeze out most of the air, and zip closed again. Refrigerate 12-24 hours. If serving this for dinner, I usually make the marinade and start the chicken soaking the evening before.
- Turn the bags and knead the marinating chicken once or twice while it's in the refrigerator.
- When you are ready to cook, take the chicken out of the refrigerator, line a large roasting pan with foil, lay a rack over the pan so air can circulate under the roasting chicken, and pre-heat your oven to 425. If you have a convection bake or convection roast cycle, use that.
- Place the chicken pieces on the rack so they are not touching. Empty what is left of the marinade into a bowl or measuring cup and touch up any "empty" spots on the chicken pieces with the marinade.
- Once the oven is hot, put the pan with the chicken in the oven, and leave the door closed (no peeking!). Turn the chicken pieces once after 30 minutes of cooking time, then roast for another 10 to 15 minutes, or until slightly charred on the second side, but no more than 15 minutes for legs and thighs. If you are cooking breasts, poke one with a skewer to make sure the juices run clear.
- NOW TURN THE OVEN OFF, and let the chicken rest in the closed oven for 20-30 minutes more (not critical, but NO PEEKING!).
- Remove the chicken to a warm platter, garnish with the onion rings and a few squeezes of lemon, and enjoy!
- See if you don't agree this is as good as any "authentic" Tandoori chicken you've ever tried!