First: The reddish orange colour of Tandoori chicken is due to tandoori colouring that is frequently used to give tandoori chicken a more appetising appearance. The tandoori colouring does not affect the flavour of the tandoori chicken.
Second: For the spice mixture to seep inside the chicken meat and flavour the chicken joint on the insides. Mix the marinade ingredients in a zip-lock plastic bag. Seal and shake until the ingredients are well mixed. Make deep incisions in the chicken joint. Rub in the marinade properly into the chicken pieces. Zip-lock the bag, remove all the excess air so the pieces are in contact with the marinade. Place the bag in a bowl and refrigerate from four to twenty four hours.
Third: Remove the excess marinade from the chicken by shaking it just before skewering it and placing it in the tandoor or the oven. This will prevent the excess marinade clinging on to the chicken from getting charred while cooking.
Fourth: While cooking, baste the chicken with butter or cooked mustard oil and the remaining marinade from time to time. This will keep the chicken moist on the inside.
Fifth: To test if the tandoori chicken is done, insert a fork into the thickest part of the chicken thigh. It should go in with ease and the juices should run clear. Do not check before twelve minutes, inserting the fork several times in the chicken will make the chicken tough and dry.
Tandoori Chicken – Serves 4
Chicken (Murga) 1, cut into four joints: 2 leg and 2 Breast pieces
Ginger (Adrak) 1 inch piece, grind into a thick paste
Garlic (Lehsun) 5 cloves, grind into a thick paste
Lemon (nimboo) 1, juice
Salt (Namak) to taste
Hung Curd (or Chakka) ¼ cup, hang yogurt in a muslin cloth for an hour, to get rid of the excess moisture.
Red Chilli Paste (lal Mirch) 1 Teaspoon, soak dried or fresh red chilli in some oil and then grind into a fine paste.
Mustard Oil (Sarson Ka Tel) 2 tablespoons + for basting during cooking (cooked i.e. heat it until it smoke rises up from the surface)
Garam Masala powder ½ teaspoon
Roasted Cumin powder (Bhuna Jeera powder) ¼ teaspoon
Tomato 1, grind into a fine paste (Optional)
Take the chicken joints and make deep incisions with a sharp knife across the chicken joints for the marinade to seep inside the pieces.
In a bowl, mix some lemon juice, salt, half the ginger-garlic paste. Rub in this mixture properly into the chicken joints so that the inside on the pieces are fully flavoured. Let the chicken marinate in this mixture for a half hour.
In a bowl, mix the hung curd, the remaining ginger-garlic paste, red chilli paste, mustard oil, garam masala powder, roasted cumin powder and mix well to prepare the 2nd marinade.
To make the dish look more appetising, you can cut up one tomato, grind it into a paste and add to the marinade. I tried this, one tomato will not dominate the flavour of the spices, it helps in giving a nice reddish colour. This step is optional since it only affect colour of the cooked chicken.
Allow the chicken to marinate in this mixture for three to four hours or overnight. The longer the chicken marinates, the more the flavours of the marinade will seep in. For better results, use freshly ground garam masala powder in the marinade.
Skewer the chicken pieces and cook it in a moderately hot tandoor or in a pre-heated oven at 200 Degree Celsius for twelve to fifteen minutes, depending on the size of the joints.
While cooking, baste the chicken with butter or cooked mustard oil and the remaining marinade from time to time. This will keep the chicken moist on the inside.
To check whether the chicken is fully cooked on the inside, insert a fork into the thickest part of the chicken thigh. It should go in with ease and the juices should run clear. However, the meat and juices nearest the bones might still be a little pink even though the chicken is cooked thoroughly.
When fully cooked, serve hot with onion rings and lime wedges.
Note: Chaat Masala may be added in the 2nd marinade along with the other spice mixtures.