Tandoori Chicken

Clay ovens or Tandoor were used in India by local people from time immemorial to prepare breads. These cylindrical shaped ovens were set into the earth and fired with wood or charcoal. They could reach temperatures of about 900 degree Fahrenheit and could retain this temperature for long time. Tandoori chicken started its glorious journey when a chef at a local restaurant in Peshawar, Moti Mahal, tried to cook chicken in this oven, where the heat generated by charcoal or wood, burning within the tandoor exposes the food to both live fire, radiant heat cooking and hot-air convection cooking.

The result was tender juicy meat with a smoked crispy outside that seals in all the juice. This together with the exotic flavors of the Indian spices, made this dish the ambassador of Indian cuisine all over the world.

Moti Mahal soon gained popularity and was adored by main of the great Indian leaders like Jawaharlal Nehru who was so impressed by the innovative dishes like tandoori chicken and its derivatives like Butter Chicken, Chicken Tikka etc that he hosted many of his state banquets at the restaurant.

The restaurant still enjoys the reputation of being the founder of many such signature Indian dishes and has branched out all over the world spreading authentic Indian cuisine across the globe. Try out Moti Mahal for some authentic Indian food.

My recipe for Tandoori chicken.

Serves 4.

Chicken whole legs or thighs, cleaned and skinned - 1kg

Fresh Ginger - 3 Tbsp
Fresh Garlic - 3 Tbsp
Pepper corns - 2 Tbsp
Yogurt - 1 cup
Tomatoes - 2No.s
Red food color (optional)

Make slashes along the fleshy part of the meat. Rub in some red chilli powder, turmeric powder, lemon juice and salt and keep aside while you prepare the rest of the marinade.

Grind together ginger, garlic and pepper corns in yogurt. Place in a bowl. Grind tomatoes and add to the bowl. Add tomato paste, kashmiri red chilli powder, turmeric powder, tandoori masala, garam masala, lemon juice and mix well. Coat each of the chicken pieces with this marinade and refrigerate overnight. 4 hours before grilling, add oil to the marinated chicken. Grill on both sides until done.

You can also make it in the conventional oven. Pre-heat oven to 450 degree Fahrenheit. Place the pieces of chicken on a baking tray and cook it for around 25 - 30 minutes until done.