Saturday, March 24, 2012

Tandoori Chicken In A Grill

So as you all know by now I don't own a tandoor. I really like tandoori chicken. Do I have to resort to BBQ Tonight's take out menu??? if I want authentic tandoori chicken at home? The answer my friend is in your charcoal grill.

Years ago Cooks Illustrated explained how offset cooking in your grill can create a dry low and slow BBQ effect. One need not own a smoker to get smoked meat. How it works is you create a hot spot in your grill and put your meat around it. None of the meat should be placed directly over the coals.
I had a lot of chicken, and I worry about chicken I really wanted it cooked thoroughly and as authentically as possible. So I choose to keep my coals in the middle of my grill. I then placed the chicken legs as close to the heat as I could, I crowded it all in. I did have some of the ends of the legs poking a bit over the hot coals. When they got a bit charred on the end I wasn't worried.

Once all the chicken was on I shut the lid and walked off and prepared spiced cauliflower. After 15 minutes I came back and shifted a few pieces. I continued to rotate the chicken larger pieces closer to the heat moving smaller pieces away. I found I did not need to turn the chicken at all. So the yummy yogurt marinade clung to the chicken and created that nice dry coating with a tender juicey interior.

My recipe for the marinade is 2 fold due to me watching some swami of Indian cooking on YouTube. The night before I skinned the chicken and put the required 4 slashes in the meat.
Then I took:
4 Teaspoons of Garam Masala
1/2 teaspoon red hot chili powder
2 Tablespoons of ginger garlic paste
a few dashes of ground sea salt. And mixed all the chicken up in this marinade. Then I took 8 oz. of yogurt (Brown Cow) and placed it in a coffee filter lined sieve on a upturned bowl inside a bigger bowl. I suppose one could have just used Greek style yogurt. But I really like the taste of Brown Cow. Now the Cooking Swami said this step was essential if you wanted your marinade to really stick.

He was right the next morning I added  to the drained yogurt in a big bowl!
a 2 second pour of mustard oil
2 Tablespoons of Garam Masala
1 teaspoon of regular chili powder
a dash of cumin,
and a tablespoon of paprika for red color without resorting to red food coloring.
Another 3 heaping spoonfuls of garlic ginger paste
 a dash of black salt,
a teaspoon of sea salt
and blended well.

I dipped the pieces of chicken in the marinade and made sure to work the mix into the chicken slits.
Now I was out of prep gloves. I recommend wearing gloves to do this part as the chili oil can make your fingers feel spicy! If like me you need to make due, you can coat your hands in oil. Before plunging them into the mixture. I find this protects your skin quite a bit. Lots of soap in cool water to get it off later. Don't use hot as it may open your pores up to the capsaicin still on your hands. 

You need to marinade for a minimum of 30 minutes I did it for 2 more hours.

Once I got the chicken on the moderate grill, spaced out, not over any coals. It took about 2 hours to cook. With me checking on it every 15-20 minutes. Even the breast meat did not dry out. Low and slow worked perfectly.

You really want to keep the lid down and have sufficient charcoal to burn for a long time. I used about 20 blocks for the naan (see previous post) and to those white hot coals I added at least another 50 more pieces. These burned up slowly over 4 hours so I could have used less.  After the chicken had a good crust on them. I plucked a few oak twigs from my tree and put them on top of the grill right over the coals. These gave off a nice smoke and added that authentic touch.

I hope you give my method a try and see if you to can have that authentic dry coating juicy inside tandoori style chicken at home. If not BBQ tonight still does takeout.

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