This tandoori marinade is loaded with big Indian flavours. If you can grill, you can make better tandoori chicken than you can buy.
I don’t know why it is but the tandoori chicken in restaurants in North America is just not good. Maybe it’s marinated too long. Maybe it’s overcooked. For sure is nowhere as good as it could be.
I’m a bit of a heretic when it comes to tandoori marinade. I don’t like to include yoghurt. That goes against pretty much every tandoori recipe out there. But there’s a reason. Yoghurt and other acidic marinades break down the proteins in the chicken. Think of ceviche. That is fish cooked with nothing but acid. No heat at all.
That pre-cooking effect turns chicken into mush. Terrible texture. Just not tasty. You to fix it by cooking it over crazy high temperature. That helps some as long as you don’t overcook it. That’s what a tandoor oven does. Searingly high temperatures.
Or you can set yourself up for success from the start. Leave out the yoghurt. Break with tradition. It’s not that scary. Honest.
I came to this conclusion after eating at a tandoori kebab restaurant in Bangalore. Their chicken was moist, the flavours explosive. I thought about it for a while then asked “Do you use yoghurt in your marinade?”. “No, we don’t”. Haven’t used yoghurt since. I add the lemon at the end. I don’t get mush and nor will you.
There’s a lot of ingredients in this marinade. Each one adds a little something. The recipe works really well as written. But it won’t completely fall apart if you leave one out. Even two. It’s still going to be better than you have been getting at your local Indian restaurant. Unless you live in India I guess. Then it will just be as good.
- 1 Tbsp cumin powder
- 1 Tbsp corriander powder
- 2 tsp hot curry powder
- 1 tsp turmeric
- 1 Tbsp dried fenugreek leaves aka kasoor methi
- 2 tsp salt
- 1 tsp mint sauce
- 2 tsp mild kashmiri chili powder
- 1 Tbsp chopped coriander leaf/stem
- 1 Tbsp Patak's tandoori paste optional
- 1 Tbsp garlic ginger paste
- 3 Tbsp oil
- 4-6 Tbsp water to make a runny paste
- pinch red food colouring
- Juice of 1/2 lemon
- Combine all the ingredients except the water and the lemon juice.
- Add water, a bit at a time until you get a consistency like the picture.
- Marinate meat at least an hour and up to 12. Add the lemon juice just before cooking.
Find dried fenugreek leaf or kasoor methi at any Indian food store. It's a key flavour to many indian dishes so if you like to cook Indian, it's good to have on hand.
I used food colouring for this marinade. Other than colour it adds nothing. It's messy as well and you have to use gloves to handle the chicken. I normally leave it out.
If you don't have, or can't get a mild kashmiri chili powder, substitute 1/2 tsp cayenne plus 1 1/2 tsp paprika.
This marinade makes enough for one chicken plus four chicken thighs.