Tandoori chicken is probably the first Indian dish that most English kids try, as it's quite mild yet still packed with fragrant flavour. It was definitely the dish I would cook for my American friends as a gentle introduction to my favourite kind of food. If I'm honest, it was also a bit of a test for potential suitors, as if they couldn't appreciate basic Indian, I knew they just weren't for me.It's a very simple dish to make, taking very little effort or expertise but producing a gorgeous result, which can be served simply with rice and some raitas or as part of a larger feast.
When made with skinless chicken wings or small drumsticks this recipe makes a fantastic party finger food.
Usually, when I'm making a curry, I like to make my own blend of spices tailored to suit the main ingredients or my mood but in this case, I use a pre-made blend which is available at most good grocery stores or online. This produces the tandoori flavour I loved as a child and is something I can never quite replicate by myself, so why fuss?
I heard an Indian chef once say "If Tandoori Chicken is a fine car, then limes are the key to start the engine"
Before that I always served mine with lemon, but since trying with lime, I never do it any other way.
Serves 2, takes 24 hours, including marinading time. 30 minutes actual working time.
2 each skinless free-range chicken thighs, wings(optional) and drumsticks
1 cup natural yoghurt
2 tbsp tandoori masala (I use Rajah brand)
3 cloves garlic, crushed
2 cm ginger root, finely grated
2 tbsp mustard oil (optional)
salt to taste
Mix together all of the ingredients except the chicken in a medium-sized bowl.
Cut deep slits into the flesh of the thighs and drumsticks about 1cm (1/2") apart to allow the marinade to penetrate well. Add to the yoghurt marinade and mix really well, being sure to get the masalas well into all the nooks and crannies. Cover the bowl with cling film and pop n the fridge overnight. You can even get this marinating a couple of days before you plan to cook it, the longer the better.
Remove the chicken from the fridge at least one hour before you plan to cook it so that it cooks quickly.
Turn your grill/broiler on as high as it will go and put a grill pan with a wire rack under the grill high enough that when the chicken is on top it's only an inch or so from the heat.
Once the grill and pan are searing hot, quickly put the chicken pieces on the rack and slip it back under the broiler, cooking for 5-7 minutes before turning over and finishing the second side for another 5 minutes. You want the meat to be cooked all the way through and for the edges to begin to blacken slightly.
Serve immediately with basmati rice, poppadums, raitas and wedges of lime.