Friday, January 22, 2010


The Food of Love kitchen is not known for its Indian cuisine. While DSO  and I have enjoyed the occasional meal in a local Indian restaurant, it isn't a cuisine that we hanker for. That said, I've seen some pretty terrific looking meals around the blogosphere based on Indian cuisine, so I thought I'd take one of our staples--chicken--and try making it tandoori-style. Ever the student, I did a quick search to learn more about this dish and to compare recipes.

I learned that Tandoori chicken has an interesting history. It begins in the 20's when India was united under British rule and a man named Kundan Lal Gujral opened a restaurant in Peshawer called Moti Mahal. Gujral, experimenting with new and interesting food preparations, decided to try cooking chicken in the tandoors--clay ovens--used by local villagers to cook bread. These earthenware ovens, fired with wood or charcoal, were bell-shaped and set into the earth. They could reach temperatures of about 900 degrees. Using young chickens, Gujral was able to cook them in the high-heat ovens so that the inside was just done and the outside crisped. The result would make him famous.

In 1947, the Punjab province of British India was partitioned with the Eastern portion joining Pakistan and Western India. Peshawer, with its Muslem majority, became part of Pakistan and Gujral found himself one among many Sikh and Hindu refugees fleeing the rioting and upheaval by heading west to India. He subsequently moved his restaurant to Daryaganj, Delhi. This move into the newly independent India would make Gujral's chicken an international phenomenon.

When the first Prime Minister of India, Jawaharlal Nehru, ate at Moti Mahal, he was so impressed by the crispy, tender dish that he made a point of planning many state banquets there. This relationship between Gujral's restaurant and leaders of India lasted through several generations of Prime Ministers.

A look at half a dozen recipes for Tandoori chicken turned up a rather diverse list of spices. A look in my spice drawer resulted in the recipe that follows. While you don't need a tandoor to make this dish, a grill, with its source of indirect heat, seems to be the preferred method. I will try it on a charcoal grill when the weather is a bit milder. It worked quite well with the combined stove-top grilling and oven finish.

2-3 servings (3 WW pts per thigh)
1 (6 ounce) container plain Greek yogurt
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
1-1/2 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons paprika
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground mace
6 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
olive oil spray

1.In a medium bowl, stir together yogurt, salt, pepper, cloves, and ginger. Mix in garlic, paprika, cumin, cinnamon, and coriander. Set aside.

2.Rinse chicken under cold water, and pat dry with paper towels. Use a sharp knife to make superficial slashes on both sides of chicken. This is so the marinade penetrates the meat. Place chicken in a large resealable plastic bag. Pour yogurt mixture over chicken, press air out of bag, and seal. Turn the bag over several times to distribute marinade. Place bag in a bowl, and refrigerate 8 hours, or overnight, turning bag occasionally.

3. Remove chicken from bag and discard marinade. Scrape off excess marinade.

4. Spray a nonstick  grill pan with olive oil spray. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cook thighs about 2 minutes on each side, until they have grill marks on them. Transfer to a baking dish and finish in a 350 degree oven for 15 minutes. Then, turn on the broiler and broil for 3-5 minutes to brown the top.
Both DSO and I agreed that this dish was a keeper. From the first wonderful aromas generated by the spice mixture to the moist, flavorful last bite, it was evident that the 8 hours of marinating in the spiced yogurt produced an exceptional flavor. Served with Jasmine rice and spicy long beans, it was only lacking a good loaf of Naan. Based on the success of this dish, I may venture more often into this cuisine.


  1. That is my favorite Indian dish! I usually eat it at a wonderful Indian restaurant close to my house. That looks wonderful.

  2. I want to eat that just so that I can taste the flavour that the Greek Yogurt brings to that dish.

  3. I'm not a huge Indian fan, but this sounds really good!

  4. Arlene... Wow! This dish looks spectacular and the history behind it is very interesting, too. I love to know the origin of things & people, because it helps to understand them better.

    I am definitely going to put this at the top of my "must-try" list. Many thanks...

  5. Looks great. Nanc and I are huge Indian fans!

  6. Hola Arlene,love ur tandoori and more so the little history around it....
    U know im v sorry now that i didn shoot pics of the tandoori fish we had for dinner with a curd salad....
    It went right from the grill to the dinner table and though it was a single pretty big fishy it was relished in no time(and we were jus 3 of us for dinner mind u....)
    I love tandoors and indian rotis and infact of late have been mastering(at a base level mind u)the art of phulkas-an indian roti w/o a drop of oil anywhere-they are amazing and i love rolling 'em out for dinner many times a week....
    HAve a fantastically brite weekend dear!!!

  7. I enjoyed the culinary history lesson. And your dish sounds very tasty indeed with all those wonderful spices.

  8. Not only does the picture look outstanding man cant wait to try this to taste this one!!! thanks

  9. Very impressive!!! Do you have any leftovers?

  10. Arlene, what a fascinating bit of history on the Tandoori Chicken. You've got me hooked Chica. I'm going to have to make it. Sounds delicious.

  11. Like you, we have not had much Indian food. I have seen so many great looking Indian dishes on the blogosphere with great reviews and I know I need to try one. I love the idea of a yogurt marinade and definitely think it would yield some tender chicken. Glad to hear it was a keeper, it sounds great and healthy too.

  12. Tandoori Chicken is my favorite chicken dish.

  13. I adore this dish and have only ventured into tandoori territory once - with mixed results. Definitely trying this. Too good to notdo.

  14. Beautiful! I am a sucker for any yogurt marinade.
    If you had invited me for dinner.. I would have brought the naan! :)

  15. Tandoori Chicken is a regular at my home....and although I make a slightly different recipe my MIL taught me....this looks very good too! Yummy! Great shot as well

  16. It looks wonderful I love tandori chicken and really Indian food. Hopefully after making this so successfully, you will try more. ;-)

  17. I'd be happy to add this to the CTB roundup if you want. I still haven't heard back from our guest judge/author, so I could squeak it in if you like. Just shoot me an email.


  18. So delectable! I've enjoyed reading each recipe between this and the roast pork...everything sounds so good!
    You found me in a very hungry mood even though it is late at night. I have been halving my dinner portions and a few hours later I'm famished.


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