22 January 2011

Tandoori-ish Chicken

I was looking for a quick dinner but something tasty, healthy of course it being by my kick start to 2011 and the aim to shed a few kilos. I just wasn't quite sure what I wanted, you know when you just can't decide but you know you want lots of flavour? I had some chicken in the fridge and grilled chicken and salad just wasn't going to cut it.

I must have been watching or reading something Indian inspired as I had a sudden urge for a tandoori type concoction.  I say tandoori type as I wanted dinner quickly so no time for an overnight marinade and liberties definitely going to be taken with the spices as what was in the pantry would have to do.  However, the end result reminded me of when I first had chicken tandoori, so it must at the very least be evocative of the real McCoy. And it made for a quick supper of juicy chicken full of the flavour of fragrant spices with a great sharp tang from the yoghurt.

I fell in love with chicken tandoori many, many moons ago.  A school friend's Dad was Indian and my friend's Mum used to make this fiery flavoured, red hued, flavourful Indian chicken dish...it was love at first bite.  Did I just write that? Suffice to say the tandoori chicken was a hit with a 12 year old school girl who thought it was all terribly exotic.  This was the early 1980s in Scotland and even though both my parents are fantastic cooks things were a little simpler back then.  Pre Jamie, Nigella, Ina, Giada et al Delia was about the only cook on one of TVs 3 channels (no Sky TV, no cable), and she hadn't even got us all in to rocket (arugula) yet, heck we had never even heard of it!  Chicken tandoori just seemed such an exciting and exotic dish.

So here is my take on chicken tandoori, by no means authentic but the flavours do take me back to that first taste with the mix of spices and the sharpness of the yoghurt so it is most definitely within the realms of tandoori.  I have tried a somewhat similar concoction a couple of times before and think it is now tried and tested enough to share. However feel free to play around with the spices.  You could try cayenne or add a little turmeric, whatever takes your fancy.

Tandoori-ish Chicken

Serves 4

4 skinless, boneless chicken thighs (about 2 1/2 pounds)
Juice of 1 lemon 
Salt and pepper
1 cup plain yoghurt, I used Greek yoghurt for a little extra richness
1 tsp vegetable oil
1 small red onion, roughly chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 tbsp tomato paste
2 tsp coriander seeds, smashed in pestle and mortar, or you could use 1 tsp ground coriander
2 tsp ground cumin
Small pinch chilli flakes
1 tsp hot paprika, next time I think I will try some of the Kashmiri chilli powder I found hiding in the back of the pantry, more to add its vibrant red to the marinade rather than heat. It is one of the less fiery chilli powders.


Cut each of the chicken thighs in to large chunks.  Toss together with the lemon juice and some salt and pepper.  
In a bowl mix together the yoghurt, vegetable oil, onion, garlic, tomato paste, coriander seeds, cumin, chilli flakes and paprika.  Season with just pinch of salt and pepper.  Toss the chicken in the yoghurt mixture and let it marinate for 15 - 20 minutes.

Pre-heat the grill and line with foil - it will save on the washing up!  Place the chicken on the foil and grill until the chicken is slightly charred and cooked through, about 5 minutes each side.  When the chicken is cooked the juices will run clear.

Serve with a little brown rice or couscous and some salad for a spicy summer supper. This one really has become a little of a summer favourite as it really does liven up the chicken.  The cumin and coriander lend a lovely earth depth of flavour and then there is a little, but not too much, heat from the chilli flakes and paprika, and all balanced  by the clean sharp yoghurt.   So it may not be an authentic chicken tandoori but it will deliver a light supper full of Indian flavours.



  1. Funny that we crave flavour and spice this week, maybe it is the drop in a few degrees temp. I too made a curry with water melon this weekend and will post in a few days.

  2. Curry with water melon...I am intrigued!

  3. I think ish sums up Kiwi cooking. The coriander seed photo is awesome.


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