Tandoori Chicken… tastes just like what you get at an Indian restaurant!

This recipe was A-MAZ-ING!!  I’ve been looking for a tandoori recipe, and have tried a few, but this comes closest to what you get at an Indian restaurant.  Now I just wish I had a tandoor oven.  But the grill or oven is totally suffice for this recipe.  I am in love with this recipe, and cannot wait for leftovers tomorrow.  Yum.

Tandoori Chicken (slightly adapted from Simply Recipes)

2 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 teaspoon cayenne
1 tablespoon garam masala
1 tablespoon sweet (not hot) paprika
1 cup non-fat, plain Greek yogurt
2.5 tablespoons lemon juice
4 minced garlic cloves
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, minced
1 teaspoon salt
4 whole chicken legs (drumsticks and thighs), or its equivalent, skinless, bone-in

Heat the oil in a small pan over medium heat, then cook the coriander, cumin, turmeric, cayenne, garam masala and paprika, stirring often, until fragrant (approximately 2-3 minutes). Let cool completely.

Whisk in the cooled spice-oil mixture into the yogurt, then mix in the lemon juice, garlic, salt and ginger.

Cut deep slashes (to the bone) in 3-4 places on the leg/thigh pieces. Just make 2-3 cuts if you are using separate drumsticks and thighs. Coat the chicken in the marinade, cover and chill for at least six hours.

Prepare your grill so that one side is quite hot over direct heat, the other side cooler, not over direct heat. If using charcoal, leave one side of the grill without coals, so you have a hot side and a cooler side. If you are using a gas grill, just turn on one-half of the burners. Use tongs to wipe the grill grates with a paper towel soaked in vegetable oil. Take the chicken out of the marinade and shake off the excess. You want the chicken coated, but not gloppy. Put the chicken pieces on the hot side of the grill and cover. Cook 2-3 minutes before checking.

Turn the chicken so it is brown (even a little bit charred) on all sides, then move it to the cool side of the grill. Cover and cook for at least 20 minutes, up to 40 minutes (or longer) depending on the size of the chicken and the temperature of the grill. The chicken is done when its juices run clear.

Conversely, you can also cook this in your oven.  Preheat the oven to 550 degrees F.  Line a baking sheet with foil.  Place chicken onto baking sheet, and put into the oven.  Bake for about 15 minutes.  Turn on the broiler, and cook for an additional 2 to 3 minutes to char the chicken a little bit more.

Let it rest for at least 5 minutes before serving.  Serve with lemon wedges, and grilled sliced onions.

Makes 4-6 servings.

Holla!… It’s Chicken Tikka Masala! But you can call me Tikka Masala.

Chicken tikka masala apparently is the most popular dish in British restaurants, and is referred to as Britain’s true national dish.  Interestingly, there is no standardized recipe for chicken tikka masala; then again, there really does not exist standard ways to cook kung pao chicken or chow mein.  But there are common ingredients that can be found such as chicken, and a tomato and coriander sauce.

This was the first dish that I ever tried during my first encounter with Indian food.  And OMG, it was to die for, especially when it was eaten with basmati rice and naan.  Mmmmm, naan.  It was like a party in my mouth.  I ordered Indian take out with chicken tikka masala, rice, and naan two times a week for a straight two months because it was so good.  And also because I have a slight obsessive personality.  I don’t remember venturing out of my comfort zone until I was out having dinner with a friend and tried their chicken korma dish.  And then my chicken korma addiction started thereafter.

Chicken Tikka

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon tumeric
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts, trimmed of fat and cut into large cubes
2 cups plain yogurt
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon lime juice
2 garlic cloves, minced (about 2 teaspoons)
2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
3 tablespoons cilantro, chopped

Masala Sauce

2 tablespoons vegetable oil or ghee
1 medium onion, diced fine (about 1 1/4 cups)
2 medium garlic cloves, minced (about 2 teaspoons)
2 teaspoons fresh ginger, grated
1 fresh serrano chile, ribs and seeds removed, flesh minced (leave ribs and seeds for a spicier dish)
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 tablespoon garam masala
1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
2 teaspoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon table salt
2/3 cup fat-free half and half (or heavy cream)
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves, for garnish

For the chicken:
Combine garlic, ginger, cumin, coriander, cayenne, salt, tumeric, lemon juice, and yogurt in small bowl. Mix well. Place chicken in bowl and mix. Cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for four to six hours.

For the sauce:
Heat oil in large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add onion and cook, stirring frequently, until light golden, 8 to 10 minutes. Add garlic, ginger, chile, tomato paste, and garam masala; cook, stirring frequently, until fragrant, about 3 minutes. Add crushed tomatoes, sugar, and salt; bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in cream and return to simmer. Remove pan from heat and cover to keep warm.

While the sauce simmers, adjust the oven rack to the upper-middle position (about 6 inches from heating element) and heat broiler. Using tongs, arrange the chicken on the foil-lined rimmed baking sheet or broiler pan, and place on wire rack. Discard excess yogurt mixture. Broil chicken until thickest parts register 160 degrees on instant-read thermometer and exterior is lightly charred in spots, 10 to 18 minutes, flipping chicken halfway through cooking. Alternatively, you can also skewer the chicken breasts and cook them on the grill, which is I plan to do as the weather warms up :)

Let the chicken rest for about 5 minutes, and then stir into warm sauce (do not simmer chicken in sauce). Stir in cilantro if using, adjust seasoning with salt, and serve.

Makes 2 servings.

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