Hi friends! Chicken tandoori is one popular dish that we think of ordering when we are at any South Asian restaurant. This dish is made by marinating the chicken in yogurt and spices than roasting in a clay oven or grilled. Any part of the chicken can be used. The whole chicken can be roasted, thighs, legs, breast, etc. The sister dish to tandoori chicken is chicken tikka. The spice blend with yogurt is the same just boneless pieces of chicken are used. All types of chicken tandoori and chicken tikka recipes begin with a yogurt, citrus, spice blends. So, this recipe can also be called chicken tikka, there is no big difference. Yogurt is an important ingredient in this marinade. It adds flavor, moisture and really helps tenderize the meat especially if you let it marinade for long. The yogurt also forms a soft layer of flavor around the meat. I did something a little different with this dish which adds so much more flavor. Usually spices, ginger, garlic and yogurt are mixed and added to chicken. But I decided to sauté the ginger, garlic and spices than added them to the yogurt. This brings out a different level of aroma and flavor. When spices are added to heated oil the flavors are released much more efficiently in the dish. Now to talk about that bright orange/reddish color of chicken tandoori that we all see. Some of that color will come from paprika, chili powder, turmeric and food coloring. It will depend on the brand of chili powder you have. Different brands of chili powder will give off a different variation of red. The red powder food color that I have used in the recipe is from an international grocery store. I have not found this type of food color at an American grocery store. But the food color is optional it will not add any flavor. So don’t feel like you need to go out and find the food color. The paprika, chili powder will give you some nice color. You can certainly grill the chicken, but I am cooking on stovetop. This dish is a great meal prep option since it’s best if marinated overnight. It’s usually served with rice, naan or roti. To help with the heat a mint/yogurt chutney can be served with it. I hope you try this recipe and let me know how it came out.
EASY CHICKEN TANDOORI
- 2 lbs chicken tenders, cubed
- 6 garlic cloves, finely minced or grated
- 1 in ginger piece, finely minced or grated
- 2 tsp cumin powder
- 2 tsp coriander powder
- 1 tsp garam masala
- 1 tsp salt (adjust as needed)
- 1/8 tsp turmeric powder
- 1 tsp chili powder (adjust to taste)
- 1 tsp paprika (not hot)
- 1 lemon
- 1/2 cup full fat regular yogurt (not flavored)
- 2-3 tbsp neutral oil to sauté ginger/garlic/spices ( I used veg oil)
- 3-4 tbsp more oil to cook chicken in
- food color (optional)
- Heat oil in small pan. Add ginger & garlic. Sauté for about 10 sec. If you have grated the ginger/garlic make sure it doesn't burn since it's so fine.
- Add all the powder spices. Sauté for 10-15 seconds. Again make sure heat is on med-low and don't let spices burn. If they are sticking to bottom of pan add a little bit more oil. It will like a paste. Let it cool.
- Once spice mixture is cooled add yogurt and mix well. In a medium bowl add yogurt/spice mixture to cubed chicken. Juice of 1 lemon. Add food color if you have any. Mix well. Cover and let it marinate overnight or few hours in refrigerator.
- Once you are ready to cook chicken. Set chicken on counter and let it come to room temp. Cooking cold meat/poultry can make it tough.
- I used a med. sized deep frying pan to cook the chicken.
- On med-high heat add oil 3-tbsp. Add chicken pieces to pan in a single layer. Cook 2-3 min. on each side. You wanna make sure the heat is med-high because there will be liquid from the yogurt. We want the liquid to be evaporated quickly so the chicken can get a good sear on it.