Clucking Good Tandoori Chicken

Curry Critics Convention

“Okay behta, it’s settled we’ll all be round in a few week’s time”, agreed my aunt.

I smiled the smile of a fool who had just realised his folly as I put the phone down. I had just invited twenty members of my extended family to our pad for lunch, uncles, aunts and cousins, all of which are tremendous cooks. I grew up on their wonderful creations, taking for granted the beauty of the food I had happily demolished for the past few decades. As far back as I can remember I had feasted on Auntie Lorena’s biryani, Uncle Lawrie’s korma, his older brother Albert’s kebabs and the youngest, Uncle Stan’s patties. Memories of sweet and sour chutneys, piping hot chapattis, gut busting parathas and lip licking halva had been seared into my foodie recall.

How on earth could I deliver a menu that would satisfy their finely tuned palates? My mind wandered to a Sopranos style family gathering, where food be central and debated hotly. Maschler, Gill and Coren are a bunch of pussycats compared to these curry critics.


Tandoori chicken

Searching my memory for past accolades and appreciation for previous culinary adventures I settled on a grill menu, featuring a classic favourite, once referred to by a friend as #!?*ing good tandoori chicken, in between stuffing ripped pieces of rose coloured chargrilled meat into his mouth. For the purposes of decency, we’ll refer to the recipe as Clucking Good Tandoori Chicken.

A moment of madness possessed me and I committed my Uncle Albert’s rendition of Seekh Kebabs to the menu. Aloo Tikki to start and a leg of lamb with Ottoman influence all accompanied by a cartload of Eurasian salad and cinnamon couscous. Hours of preparation, moments of trepidation and a couple of abstract dreams later, the weekend in question arrived. Family descended, grey clouds drifted over, the air cooled and my palms released enough moisture to irrigate the lawn.

Lunch was served in a succession of stages, aloo tikki first with tamarind chutney, nods of appreciation and gentle murmurs of warm recognition, not a bad start. Next up was the tandoori chicken, fingers tumbled through the mountain of red pink marinated fowl thighs, jaws chewed, teeth tore and silence drew up a chair and sat comfortably for a few minutes. Eyes looked up, I stood patiently and verdicts were given, “Achar, very good behta”, “yes, first class...but could be spicier” followed another,“is there anymore?”, “yeh, I’ll have some more and some chutney”....My shoulders relaxed, my palms reversed the tide and I got on with the lamb, no time to let praise rob me of my form.

So here it is the Clucking Good Tandoori Chicken recipe a crowd pleaser every time. You can watch it here or follow it below

Serves up to 20 as a side or starter  

  • 1 kg chicken thighs or fillets (cut into skewer pieces)
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 300g natural yoghurt low fat (if you like)
  • 2 inches fresh ginger, blitzed into paste
  • 3 fat garlic cloves, blitzed into paste
  • 1/3 tsp cardamom powder
  • 4 tsp paprika
  • 2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • ½ tsp chilli powder
  • ½ tsp turmeric powder
  • ½ tsp red food colouring (optional)
  • 2 tsp cumin seeds, roughly ground
  • 2 tsp fennel seeds, roughly ground
  • Olive oil
  • Salt to taste, pepper to dust

Slash the skinless chicken (if using fillets cut into skewer sized pieces), marinade in lemon, oil, and salt and refrigerate for at least 1 hour. In the meantime create the tandoori marinade. Blitz the garlic in a blender with a little water to create a paste, do the same with the ginger, combine with the fork whipped yoghurt. Throw in all the other spices and mix well including the red food colouring, the marinade should take on the palour of a prize winning rose. I sometimes add in half a sliced onion if it’s knocking around and needs using up. Add the chilled chicken to the mix and thoroughly work it over as if performing a Turkish massage making sure all the sauce is well and truly into the chicken. Cover and refrigerate for a couple of hours (or ideally overnight).

If using fillet pieces skewer the chicken onto pre-soaked bamboo sticks. Cook under a hot grill for 20-25 minutes until the juices run clear when prodded. If cooking over coals, in a tandoor or pizza oven it will take a similar amount of time, again prod the fattest piece with a fork and see if the juices run clear.

Serve with a cool cucumber, mint and yoghurt raitha or leave it naked with a few lemon wedges for comfort.

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Clucking hell! This looks absolutely delicious, I can’t decide if I want this or the Prawn Tang more. Looks like I’ll have to make both!

By Jessica S on August 23, 2011

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Let me help you with that choice, I’ll cook you some Clucking Good Tandoori Chicken and you can tell our gaggle whether it’s worth trying or not.

By Urban Rajah on August 23, 2011

needing some inspiration for dinner last night i decided to give the tandoori chicken a go! it was delicious - fab results for very little effort! my kind of cooking!

By carolyn shaw on August 28, 2011

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Great to hear and hope the clan were satiated…if you fancy something even simpler check out Daisy’s Dish…a handful of ingredients and handful of minutes are all that’s required.

By Urban Rajah on August 28, 2011

Amazing! so tasty! lots of great flavours! never need to get a takeaway again!!!

By Amy Shepheard on September 26, 2011

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That’s my aim…getting you to cook food that’s so scrummy you’ll be giving the local take-away a run for its money.

By Urban Rajah on September 27, 2011

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