Tandoori Chicken — Grilled or Broiled

Tandoori Chicken — Grilled or Broiled


A lot of classic take-out foods are really
ill-suited to the home kitchen. But Indian-American restaurant-style tandoori chicken is not one
of them. It’s so easy, so good, and you can do it out on the grill or inside under the
broiler. I’ma show you both ways. First thing to consider is your spice mixture
— your “masala” in Hindi. You could absolutely buy a pre-made garam masala mixture and then
combine it with the key ingredient, which is Kashmiri chili powder. Kashmiri chilis
give you this beautiful red color without overwhelming you with heat. I got that at
my local Indo-Pak grocery. If there’s one in Macon, Georgia, there’s probably one in
your town. If you can’t get this, you could swap in a
combination of cayenne pepper for heat and paprika for color. But I’ma use the real stuff,
and rather than using prepackaged garam masala, I am going to toast and grind whole spices.
Not only does that really taste better, in a way it’s more convenient, because I don’t
make Indian food everyday, and whole spices basically last forever. If I buy a pre-ground
masala it’s gonna taste like sawdust by the time I use it again. So into a pan I’ma throw a tablespoon of cumin
seeds and a tablespoon of coriander seeds — that’s the foundation; a few black peppercorns
— you could just grind in some pepper, that’d be fine; four black cardamom pods — you
could use green ones but the black ones are stronger; a teaspoon of fenugreek seeds — you
could totally skip that; maybe half a cinnamon stick — scissors are probably the easiest
way to break that in half. And that’s all, and now I’m gonna toast those on medium-high
heat. Now, if you’re thinking, “What, is this some
white guy doing a dumbed down version of North Indian cuisine?” — let me tell you, much
respect, but that is exactly what is happening right here. And I think it could be even dumber.
I think you can get away with just the three Cs — cumin, coriander and cardomom. To a
palate like mine, I think that’s enough to make something taste like Indian food. A lot
of Indian cooks toast the spices one by one, so that each can get the specific time it
needs, but that is not a thing that I am going to do. When they smell really fragrant and I can
see some tiny wisps of smoke coming off them, I’ll take them off the heat and dump them
into the coffee grinder that I use for spices. Give them a good blast. You’ll probably need
to reach in there and dislodge some of the big pieces that aren’t getting ground up.
This is why these things are built to only spin when the lid is on. And there you go
— I say a simplified homemade masala is better than a more elaborate store-bought
one. Speaking of simple, I think it makes your
life a lot easier to just do this with one cut of chicken. Today I’m using legs — only
legs. I think dark meat tastes way better and it’s much more forgiving. You can’t “overcook”
it — it just gets better, in my opinion. 5 bucks for all of these, and I don’t have
to do any home butchery. Well, the one thing that I will do is score them — a few deep
cuts, down to the bone. That’ll help them cook way faster and you’ll get more delicious
surface area. You could absolutely use a mixture of different chicken parts if you want, but
this way they’re all gonna be done at basically the same time. That is my biggest stainless steel bowl they’re
going into. Don’t use anything that’ll react with acid, like non-anodized aluminum. Most
people would mix the spices and the marinade up into a paste and then put the paste onto
the chicken. But with these kinds of things, I much prefer
to just put the ingredients directly on the meat, one by one. Salt first. And this way
I don’t have to rely on somebody else’s math — I can just use my eyes to judge how much
salt these need. Then the masala — same deal, just eyeballing it, looking for a heavy
dusting everywhere, but not too much. You go overboard and you’ll get a noticeably powdery,
pasty texture on the finished product. I’ll save the rest of my spices there for … something. Here’s that gorgeous Kashmiri chili powder,
again, just eyeballing it, that’s enough to result in mild to moderate heat, for Western
tongues, at least. Now, one cheat I always do when I’m gonna
make a lot of Indian food is bottled ginger-garlic paste, from the Indo-Pak. Peel and grate your
own ginger and garlic if you want, but this just saves so much effort, and I cannot taste
the difference in a heavily-cooked dish like this. Just a couple of spoonfuls — again,
too much could give you a gross texture. I’m just gonna do the juice of one lemon.
Some people might do more lemon, proportionately, but an acid this strong will chemically cook
your meat if given enough time, which makes for this horrible mushy texture. I don’t want
to have to cook this in two hours precisely, or whatever. I want to throw this in the fridge
and be able to cook it whenever I want to in the next 24 hours or so. We’re gonna squeeze
lemon over it in the end, anyway. Lastly, yogurt. Full-fat Greek yogurt is probably
the closest thing I can get to the curd that Indian cooks would use. It’s nice and thick,
not too wet. And legit, I’m only using half a cup for like five pounds of meat and bone
here. If you use more than that, you’re just gonna waste it, because you have to knock
off the excess before you cook it. I prefer to simply have no excess at all — just
a thick paste all around. Now you can see the color in there. After
cooking, that would be kind of a pale, rusty orange. If you want that candy-apple red tandoori
chicken, you know what you gotta do … am I gonna do it, am I gonna do it? I’m totally
gonna do it. This is absolutely what they’re doing down at your favorite strip mall Indian-American
joint. I have no regrets. Cover up that bowl — yes, I’ve ordered some
silicone bowl covers. And honestly, you could cook that right away, but the flavor does
get a little more intense is you let it sit for a few hours. I wouldn’t marinate it more
than a day, it’ll get kinda mushy. Yes, a tandoor is a clay oven, not a grill,
but a charcoal grill really is the best substitute. It gets you that same intense heat, and the
same smokey flavor. A few paper towels for kindling go onto the bottom grate, spray them
with some grease to turn them into an oil wick. Chimney starter goes on top, light the
towels on fire and then fill her all the way up with natural chunk charcoal — it burns
hotter than briquettes. Wait 10 minutes until it becomes a glowing tower of doom, and dump
it out. Then put on a pretty heavy layer of fresh charcoal on top. We need to start with
a lot of fuel up front to get this chicken cooked all the way through. Top grate goes
on. I’ll wait five minutes for the new charcoal to ignite and for the heat to burn off the
sludge from my previous grilling. Clean that off with the wire brush. Then I’ma use Chef John’s grill greasing technique
— pull it off with tongs and the spray it. If you did this over the fire, you’d get some
scary pyrotechnics. Chicken goes on, and there’s no excess to painstakingly scrape off, lest
it drip onto the coals and cause a flare up. As soon as you get it all down, cover them
up. My bottom vents are wide open, giving plenty
of air to the coals. My top vents are half closed. I think that gets you the perfect
amount of airflow and therefore heat. Wide open would be too hot. You keep this covered to keep the heat from
getting out of hand, and also to bake the inside of the chicken, not just blast the
outside, though after five minutes, side one is pretty blasted. I’m no grill master — my
fires are always a little uneven, so I’ll juggle around some pieces at this stage if
some seem to be getting way more heat than others. Get every piece flipped, and then
I just cover it up and forget about it. That’s it. Side two will get nice and charred over
the next few minutes, and as the coals naturally die down, the heat will reduce, and these
can just slow cook in there. I go inside and prep my vegetables. I want
whole rings of onion, so I’ve gotta peel this white onion whole. Easier if you just sacrifice
the outer-most edible layer. I’ll cut it up into big, thick slices and
just push the rings out. A big green bell pepper, I want rings to match, so I’ll cut
off the top, reach in and dig out the seeds, and then lay her on her side and cut big rings.
That’s enough veg for two or three people, easy. I wonder how our chicken is doing. It’s been
20 minutes since we flipped and covered it, so let’s go down and look. Looking beautiful.
Again, I might move some pieces around if they seem to be getting more heat than others.
Some people might baste these with some ghee or something at this point, but dark meat
is fatty, it’s basically self-basting. You might wonder if this is still even cooking,
but look, plenty of smoke coming out of that grill. Nice, slow cooking. If we were cooking
white meat, we’d need to be really careful about not drying it out. But dark meat almost
never dries out. It just goes soft and sticky and delicious. It’s bullet-proof, as the professional
cooks say. I gave it 15 more minutes, so that’s maybe
40 minutes of total cooking time. Since you scored them, you can basically see they’re
done just by looking at them. I see clean bone, clear juices, but you can take their
temperature. The deepest part of this one leg that’s way bigger than the others is reading
170 F, which I would consider the minimum you want to hit with dark meat, which means
the rest of these are probably awesome. I’m just pulling them out onto a tray. And
hey, worst case scenario if your fire dies too quickly is you just throw this tray in
the oven to let your chicken finish up. Inside we go. And yeah, ideally we’d grill our vegetables,
but our fire isn’t nearly hot enough at this point and I don’t feel like building another
one, so pan goes on my biggest burner, set all the way on high heat. This is a great
job for a cast iron pan. When it’s really hot, a little neutral oil goes in, it should
be smoking, and real quick, put in your veg. A little salt, then don’t move it for a sec.
That’s how you’ll get some nice browned edges while keeping the interior of the pieces virtually
raw. See? Just one or two little tosses, and I really want this to stay crispy, so I’ll
take them out before they seem done. They’ll soften some more as they sit. Alrighty, veg on a plate, chicken on the veg,
and wedge of lemon, squeeze plenty of that over, and holy crap that is amazing. So many
times when you try to recreate restaurant classics at home, you are disappointed. But
that does not taste like a passable substitution. That tastes like the real thing, and it is
way-easy to make. I see no reason to make rice or naan or roti with it. That is a totally
satisfying protein and veg meal, the likes of which many of us should be eating more
frequently. OK, say you live in an apartment, you don’t
have a grill, or what Brits would call a barbecue. You can totally do this under the broiler
— what Brits would call a grill. You just need a sheet pan with a rack. I’m demonstrating
with a half batch, but I obviously had room for more. There it goes, very top shelf, right
under the broiler, as hot as I can get it. 10 minutes later, it looks like this. Great
char. Flip them around, and do the second side. You really do almost get that intense,
tandoor-level of heat if you can get the chicken right next to the element. Another 10 minutes
later, everything is browned. I’ll turn the broiler off, and just set the oven to bake,
350 F, anything moderate. As you can see, the chicken was basically cooked this point,
but I really prefer to “overcook” dark meat, to get it soft and sticky. So back in it goes
to bake on the middle rack. Oh, and if the stuff dripping onto the tray is burning and
threatening to set off your smoke detector, you can just pour a little water in there
under the rack. I baked that low and slow for 15 more minutes, and out it comes. Those are great. It’s actually easier to control
the heat in the oven, so the color is even prettier. The only thing they lack is the
smokey flavor you get from a grill or a charcoal-fueled tandoor. There is, I’m told, a popular Indian
technique that involves igniting a single coal on your stovetop and then putting it
into a dish full of ghee to fill your oven with smoke, but I’m pretty sure my lawyer
would advise me to not advocate that. Ok, back over here to my grilled batch. You
might be wondering, “Why did he make five pounds of chicken legs — is he feeding an
army?” No, I just think when you make tandoori chicken, you might as well make a lot of extra,
so that later you can make Britain’s national dish, a great classic from the great city
of Glasgow, which we shall prepare half a fortnight hence.

100 thoughts on “Tandoori Chicken — Grilled or Broiled

  1. Q) Why do your chicken legs contain broth?
    A) Because they're super cheap. Processors of very inexpensive meat in the U.S. inflate the weight of their product with water, I think usually via a weak brine solution. It doesn't really make a difference in a long-cooked dish like this. Yes we also have normal meat in the U.S.

    Q) Why do you sound different?
    A) I'm getting over a cold. Wait until you have small children in school — you will be sick more often than not.

    Q) Did you butcher all the Indian words?
    A) No, I pronounced them with an American accent, because I have an American accent. It would be weird if I tried to affect someone else's accent.

    Q) Why do you pronounce cumin "KOO-min"?
    A) I have no idea, but lots of people pronounce it that way. Maybe it's how my parents said it. Every dictionary I've tried mentions this as a common pronunciation, which means I am hardly alone: https://www.dictionary.com/browse/cumin?s=t

    Q) Why didn't you put ghee in the marinade?
    A) I think there's plenty of fat in the chicken pieces and the yogurt. If I was doing white meat pieces, I think ghee (or oil) would be important, but I doubt it would make much of a difference with dark meat.

    Q) Why did you need red food coloring to get the same color my Indian grandma gets without it?
    A) Probably because your grandma uses way more chili powder, because your family, like probably most South Asians, exhibits chronic capsaicin desensitization. Those of us who don't eat super-spicy food all the time are far more sensitive to the burn, says science. This will be the topic of Monday's video.

    Q) Why do you keep translating stuff for Brits?
    A) Because the U.K. and other Commonwealth countries represent my second-biggest audience demographic after the U.S., because they are often demonstrably confused by U.S. kitchen terms, and because I do have an affinity for British culture, owing to my travels, my interest in history, and my voracious consumption of old BBC and Channel 4 cookery programs.

  2. You made this better than food channel. They usually butcher the recipe so much it isn't even a tandoori chicken recipe. They don't even use chilly powder but use paprika and some pepper powder. I don't know why I am so salty about it (probably because I am of Indian origin).

  3. You probably should’ve went the Alton Brown route for the Veggies, I.e. After taking the chicken off, put your skillet directly on the coals for about 5-10 minutes, prepped your veggies inside, and cooked them on the hot skillet outside.

  4. Only I am shocked that all of this chicken costs only 5$ in my local supermarket I would pay 30€ which is like what 35$

  5. Green cardamom tastes absolutely nothing like black cardamom. I'm so weirdly sure of this that it makes me think maybe there is some genetic differences involved in the taste perceptions.

    I'm thinking of how super tasters tasting nearly all vegetables as horribly bitter, or many people tasting cliantro as soap…

    Or maybe what is called black cardamom in English labels on spices used in Chinese cook is different from the black cardamom used in Indian cooking?

  6. 4:40 In Kashmir and surrounding areas there's allegedly a flower that adds the red colour. That doesn't grow elsewhere and doesn't preserve well. So even Kashmiri I'm told resort to this when abroad…

  7. Yo… I subscribed simply cuz you a fool?? one of the few times I laughed thru a cooking tutorial like a vine compilation??

  8. people think they're getting a more "pure" product when they buy lump, but a lot of the time what you're getting is less than optimally charred charcoal made from chemically treated lumber. The uniformity, affordability, and transparent ingredients lists, make briquettes a superior fuel to lump charcoal. Last thing Adam, UPGRADE TO A 22" webber kettle please, your family with thank you.

  9. Great sensible ideas, Love your thought process. Also, I am no longer wondering why my last attempt was so disappointing. .

  10. even faster/easier, do what the indians do. get a jar of tandoori paste, rub the chicken with it liberally, and then put a few tbsp of plain yogurt (greek is fine too). leave it for 24 hours, 12 minimum. you can find tandoori paste at indian grocer or even at kroger/meijer/safeway/whatever. you still have to do ginger/garlic paste. most people buy ginger paste and add garlic paste for a bit more control. i use ginger paste for chinese cooking as well so thats what I do. ginger/garlic paste i tend not to use.

  11. As a strict Vegetarian
    You must not eat flesh of animals
    It's bad karma
    Our food has been twisted by invaders , mixing Masala with non veg it's blasphemy ? .
    Eat veggies it's healthy way
    Go vegan ?

  12. You are better off mixing the spices and lime into the yogurt because you can mix it thoroughly applying a uniform spice mix and takes less effort in rubbing the chicken pieces.. though some like rubbing their chicken thoroughly.

  13. This may be a stupid question (I am a newbie at cooking), but can I use the microwave oven to cook the Tandoori Chicken? Anyone with expertise on this matter please answer.

  14. Actually tandoori masala aka tandoori spice powder has around 20 spices not just these? also grinding fresh spice is best way to get flavour in Indian cooking

  15. does anyone know if you need to use a oven tray rack? I don't own one and just want to know if it's absolutely essential

  16. When mixing the marinade, wouldn't it be easier/faster to mix the spice and yogurt together first, then spread that over the chicken? What difference does applying the spice straight on to the meat first make?

  17. Question unrelated to cooking: knowing Macon county somewhat myself from having most my family around there, why do you live in Macon? It's not the most savory place to live in my mind

  18. The trick for smoke with ghee doesnt need to be in oven. You can do same in a bowl really. You can have a really small piece of coal, red on your stove top. Throw chicken in a bowl, put the coal piece in middle of the chicken , in a make shift piece of foil, pour a spoonful of butter or ghee. Keep it covered 5 minutes and you are all set.

  19. Hey, What the stove you're using? I'm looking for a new stove and that one seems amazing! Wishing if you could tell me it.

  20. "If you're thinking, what is this some white guy doing a dumb downed version of north-indian cuisine?"
    "lemme tell ya, much respect, but that is EXACTLY what this is."
    IM ROLLINGGG ??

  21. Thanks for mentioning Indian-American
    Whatever you guys eat there as Indian is just a knockoff
    Same with the burgers and other stereotypical ‘American’ food we get here

  22. I heard from Babish that you could roast the chicken on a rack with Lapsang tea under it to make it smokey. Has anyone tried it?

  23. Chicken-Cheese Tikka made with cheese triangles (not real cheese) sounds disgusting but is the bomb. An Indian chef made it for me years ago and I'm now an addict.

  24. If you don't want to use the food colour you could heat up some mustard oil(if you get it there) in a pan add in some kashmiri red chilli powder and let it be on the flame for 4-5 seconds and then add it to the chicken with the rest of the spices. This helps in giving the original deep red colour that the tandoori chicken has. Care should be taken so that the chilli powder doesn't burn

  25. Why don't you blend large batch of garlic and ginger and freeze them in an ice cube tray and use them whenever you want? Just heat up individual cubes and you're good to go.

  26. I’m Afghan and this looks really nice !! I can’t eat Pakistani/Indian food as it gives me a upset stomach lol the spices you used seems mild

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