My kids love Indian cuisine. They have since they were first able to eat solid food. I love it too, though I didn’t really discover it until I was twenty something and lived behind an Indian restaurant on Second Avenue in Manhattan. In fact I loved it so much that – after becoming friendly with the manager – I spent a few weeks as an apprentice in their kitchen.
I find Tandoori Chicken in many Indian restaurants to be quite dry and sometimes tasteless – especially the ones at Indian buffets where the chicken can sit in a steam table for quite some time before you get to it. Unlike those versions, this recipe will yield extremely juicy and tender chicken.
Like many Indian recipes, this one combines a lot of different spices and blends ginger and garlic (in equal parts) to give you a unique balance of spice, sweetness, and savory. Despite the long ingredient list, it’s so easy to make that – literally – kids can do it.
1 Tablespoon Garam Masala
1 Tablespoon Ground Coriander
1 Tablespoon Ground Cumin
1 Tablespoon Garam Masala
1 Teaspoon Cayenne
2 Tablespoons Kosher Salt
2 Tablespoons Ground Turmeric
2 Tablespoons Chopped Ginger
2 Tablespoons Chopped Garlic
2 Cups Plain Yogurt
4 Tablespoons Lemon Juice
Red Food Coloring (Optional)
6-8 Bone-In Chicken Thighs
- Mix salt, spices, garlic, ginger, and food coloring (optional) with yogurt and add lemon juice to make a marinade.
- Combine marinade and chicken in a zip-top bag and store overnight.
- Grill the top side of the thigh on high – using direct heat – until it looks cooked and has a nice char, about 5-7 minutes.
- Finish using indirect heat at a temperature of about 350-375 degrees until chicken looks done and feels firm to the touch, about 10-12 minutes.
- The food coloring is completely optional. I like to use it because it gives a nice pink appetizing color to the finished chicken but you can omit it if you prefer.
- For extra-fancy presentation, score each chicken thigh on the top-side of the thigh 2-3 times before adding it to the marinade.
- The yogurt helps create the char that adds both a smoky and appealing blackened taste and a grilled look. When you remove the chicken from the marinade, be sure to shake off excess marinade but do leave some on.
- You can use plain yogurt from brands like Dannon or Stonyfield or use greek-style yogurt but don’t use nonfat yogurt.
- Because of the yogurt, the chicken will stick to the grill grate until it has a chance to properly cook. Don’t flip your chicken too early or you’ll end up with a shredded mess and lots of chicken pieces stuck to your grill. Once the chicken releases somewhat easily from the grill grate, it’s time to flip it. You can also oil the grill grate before putting the chicken on but I find it unnecessary.
- I use a fairly rough chop for the garlic and ginger. If you prefer a stronger garlic/ginger taste, use a finer mince or dice.
- I just gotta say it – if you’re cooking with kids, be sure to keep them safe. Knives can cut them. Grills can burn them.