Tandoori chicken

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One of the many pleasures of eating out for us is taking the opportunity to peruse copies of the immigrant community street press that may otherwise not come our way.

Far more often than not this means reading one or more of the many of the variety of rags that issue forth from the Indian community.

What an idiosyncratic treat they are … charmingly quirky use of English, heaps of Bollywood news and interviews, sport, politics, astrology, adverts seeking marriage partners and, of course, food stuff, recipes, ads for restaurants and producers that may be the next pot of gold.

It was while reading a copy of Indian Times – I forget exactly which Indian estebalishment was involved – that I came across this recipe for tandoori chicken.

I’d never thought of attempting this dish at home before, though we do eat it sometimes.

Bennie and I enjoy the affordable tandoori chook available from Classic Curry in Sunshine, for instance.

Though much like a lot of other people, I’m guessing, we wonder about the health aspects of that lurid colouring.

But why not give it a crack at home?

For starters, the skin-off chicken used has to be at least a little bit more righteous than the deep-fried and barbecue chicken of Filipino, Malaysian and Japanese derivation we often enjoy.

As well, I was beyond doubt that cooking this would fill our home with the most amazing aromas.

Instead of a whole chook, I used three marylands cut into leg and thigh pieces.

I pan-toasted the appropriate spices, though I didn’t get so gung ho as to do them separately.

I omitted the chilli powder, which no doubt accounts for the mild tan colouring.

Indeed, this ended up looking unlike any restaurant tandoori chook I’ve ever seen.

But I didn’t let that worry me – I was far more interested in the taste.

To that end, it tasted very fine – and Bennie dug it, too.

I used a single teaspoon of salt instead of the two stipulated in the Indian Times recipe.

Finally, I chose to not brush the pieces with oil before putting them in the oven, figuring the marinade and chicken fat combined would ensure a moist and juicy result.

INGREDIENTS

1 chicken cut into bits, or equivalent in chicken pieces, skin off.

1/2 cup plain yogurt

juice of 1 lemon

1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh garlic

1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger

1 tablespoon cumin seeds

1 teaspoon coriander seeds

1/2 teaspoon green cardamom pods

1/4 teaspoon whole cloves

1/2 teaspoon black peppercorns

1 teaspoon salt

METHOD

1. Heat fry pan over low medium-heat. When hot, throw in cumin and coriander seeds and cardamom pods. Stir/shake frequently until the spices are tanned – but be careful not to burn them.

2. Throw roasted spices in mortar and pestle.

3. Crack open cardamom pods, return seeds to vessel and discard the pods.

4. Add peppercorns and cloves.

5. Hand grind spices until a fine powder is formed.

6. Throw in grated ginger and chopped garlic, and pound/grind with spices until a dryish paste is formed.

7. Add paste to a large bowl, add yogurt, lemon juice and salt, and mix until well blended.

8. Add chicken pieces to yogurt blend and ensure all the chook is well coated.

9. Cover and place in refrigerator for at least eight hours or overnight.

10. Pre-heat oven to 220-230C.

11. Shake off excess marinade from chicken pieces and place on a rack placed over a baking tray with a tin foil lining.

12. Cook, turning once, for about half an hour or until cooked.

13. Eat, enjoy.

We had our tandoori chicken in the simple style in which it is most often served in restaurants – with tomato and cucumber slices.

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