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Greg's Chicken Tanduri
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Indian “Tanduri” cooking (usually spelt “tandoori”) is now well-known, though it hasn't always been that way: to do it right, you need a Tandur, a cylindrical ceramic oven heated by hot coals at the bottom. Until the mid-1960s, these ovens were a rarity in most Western countries.

There are plenty of recipes for tanduri murg (tanduri chicken); I don't make any special claims for this one, except that it's the recipe I use.

Ingredients

quantity   ingredient;   Step
170 g yoghurt 1
750 g Chicken pieces (see below)      2
Lemon juice 3
Salt 3
0.25 g Saffron powder 4
5 g cummin seed 5
10 g coriander seed 5
8 g garlic 6
18 g ginger 6
2 g red “tandoori” food colouring 6

Notes on the ingredients

Most recipes I've seen call for whole chickens or chicken pieces on the bone. This is possibly a good choice if you're using a real tandur, but who has one of those? Traditional cooking, even over a barbecue, is not as hot, and with the bone you run a real risk of having the meat next to the bone not being cooked, or the surface being charred or dried out.

Saffron is the most expensive foodstuff on earth; the quantity mentioned here will make up a significant part of the cost of the meal. You can omit it, or use turmeric, but the results won't be the same.

Preparation

  1. Whip the yogurt in a blender to break up the structure, then place in a sieve with a sheet of kitchen paper to dry it out. Clear liquid should—slowly—drip out of the paper. This can take an hour or two.

  2. Chop the chicken into serving-sized pieces (breasts into about 6 pieces per side, deboned thighs into 3). If you're serving the pieces with bones, chop the breasts as small as you can and chop the thighs at the joint.

  3. Place the meat in a ceramic or glass pot, not metal, and sprinkle liberally with salt and pour lemon juice over it. Both the salt and the lemon will extract juice from the the chicken, so it won't be as sour or as salty as you would expect. Leave for half an hour or so.

  4. Discard the liquid that has collected and sprinkle with the saffron, then mix in. Leave while performing the following step.

  5. Place the cummin seed and coriander seed in a dry pan and warm until lightly toasted. Place the pan on a wet sponge to cool down, then grind in a spice grinder. Pour over the meat mixture and mix roughly.

  6. Chop the garlic and ginger coarsely. Place in a blender with the dried yoghurt and blend until uniform. Add food colouring to get the colour you want. Add to the meat and spice mixture and mix carefully. Put in the fridge for 24 hours or so.

  7. How do you cook it? There are many ways: the traditional one is on a spit in a tandur. You can do the same thing in a hot barbecue, or you can lay them on the grill in a barbecue, or you can do them under the grill in an oven. Not surprisingly, the spit method seems to be the best.

Serve with raw onions, raita and naan.


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