Tandoori Chicken Thighs

Tandoori Chicken

My interest in Indian food started around 1976. With hindsight, I spent too many late nights pigging myself on onion bhajis, chicken tikka and kulfi in The Rajah on Highcross Street! Between then and now, I've spent more hours than I care to think about trying to recreate those restaurant dishes.

I bought my first lot of spices from the health food shop at the bottom of Charles St in Leicester; they cost a fortune. Many things were virtually impossible to get unless you went to one of the Indian owned shops on the Narborough Road. However, it paid to know the Indian word for the thing you wanted; if younger family members weren't about, the older ones often didn't speak English. As the shops weren't large, I couldn't manoeuvre around them in my wheelchair so it wasn't exactly easy!

It's easy to forget that the days of chilies, root ginger and garlic being readily available hadn't yet come. And, as for coriander leaf? Even the Indian shop only had it on one day a week and if you weren't there by lunchtime, you stood no chance of getting any. In fact, if you'd have asked most people they wouldn't have known what it was - things have changed but I'm still not a fan!

Over the years I've played with various Tandoori recipes. I've settled on a recipe that's a combination of Madhur Jaffrey's and Pat Chapman's.

Tandoori Chicken

To me it's important have two marinades. The first, of just lemon juice and salt, is crucial for good flavour. It's what makes it stand out from shop bought products. The second one, of yogurt and spices, can be varied depending on how you feel - more garlic, more ginger or chili, stronger spicing, or even adding a couple of pinches of mango powder for a more bitter edge - the choice is yours.

Tandoori Chicken Thighs

1 - 2lbs chicken thighs

1 teasp salt
1 lemon

¼ pint plain yogurt
3 garlic cloves, peeled and finely grated
1 thumb sized piece of root ginger, peeled and finely grated
1 chopped chili (optional)
1½ teasp ground coriander
1½ teasp ground paprika
1 teasp ground cumin
1 teasp ground ginger
¼ teasp garam masala
¼ - 1 teasp chili powder (optional)

Skin the chicken thighs and then slash the flesh avoiding cutting through to the bone. Sprinkle the chicken with the salt and squeeze the juice from the lemon over them. Cover and put in the fridge for a minimum of an hour, up to two's fine.

Mix all the other ingredients together and rub them into the chicken - it's real messy! Cover it tightly and put it back in the fridge overnight or for up to a couple of days.

Pre-heat your oven to it's highest temperature. Set a grill rack over a roasting tin (I line the tin with a silicone baking sheet to make cleaning easier). Put the chicken on the rack removing any excess marinade as you do so. Leave gaps between the pieces and cook them for 15 minutes before turning them over and cooking them for another 10 - 15 minutes or until cooked through.

Serve with wedges of lemon, and a sauce made of yogurt and mint with a pinch of roasted and ground cumin.

Tandoori Chicken

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