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Tandoori Chicken

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I did tandoori chicken in the KK Yesterday and it was a real success! Tandoori chicken are traditionally prepared in very hot tandoor ovens, but the KK is also very well qualified for this task.


Here the recipe for tandoori in the KK:

-Buy a jar of Tandoori paste and prepare a marinade with the paste, yogurt, and lemon juice (see recipe on the jar).

-Cover chicken legs with the marinade and let them in there for at least 6 hours

-Heat up the KK to 650 Fahrenheit, put the heat reflector, the main grill and the upper grill in and let it at this temperature for a while, so the walls get heated up well.

-Put the chicken legs on the upper grill with the marinade on that sticks to them, when you lift them out of the marinade. Close the dome

-Let the meat in the KK till it reaches 190 Fahrenheit (aprox 20 minutes depending on the size of the chicken legs),

-Take it out and serve the meat with basmati rice, naan, raita and chutneys.

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I did Tandoori chicken today but with one small difference, I did it direct. The Tandoori ovens I have seen do the chicken direct so I though I would give it a try. When the KK hit 600° I put the chicken on and pulled it off after 20 mins. We can't stop eating the stuff it is so good. I think I'm going to pop I'm so full.

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I wouldn't go 750/800 F dome for tandoori chicken in a ceramic cooker, at least for any recipe I know. Every 50 F step above 550 F is pretty dramatic, I'd take them one at a time.

Temperature is only one element of the puzzle, and more is not always better; every cooker is different in its heat delivery characteristics. This is not a single variable (temperature) problem. For an example which is approximately two variables, take a pizza stone, where the temperature and the thermal transfer rate of the stone material work together to determine how the stone cooks. A ceramic cooker is a more complex system, closer to a tandoor than to a conventional oven, but not the same. I can't use the same pizza temperatures in my cooker that I saw Sicilians use in room-sized wood fired ovens, and I can't use the same tandoor temperatures that an Indian would use in an authentic tandoor. Nevertheless, if one makes an adjustment to one's cooker, the results can be delicious.

Here are some pictures of a tandoori chicken recipe that I like:


Here are some notes of mine from 2005, that I've edited a bit for this post:

"Tandoor" by Ranjit Rai (ISBN 1585671444; addall.com, overstock.com) is a definitive treatise on Indian Tandoor barbecue, written originally for publication in India. It is quite approachable, particularly if one has cooked other Indian dishes before. Nevertheless, he assumes that one is using ingredients as found in India, and actually cooking in a Tandoor. I find this refreshing; I'm comfortable making adaptations to my circumstances, but I cringe at the idea of others making adjustments for me, that may not be relevant to my circumstances. For example, a ceramic cooker is very much like a Tandoor; much could get lost in translation by starting with a recipe adapted to a conventional oven.

The following is my adaptation for a ceramic cooker of his "Tandoori Chicken"; I have tried to be as faithful as possible to his original intent, e.g. bringing into this recipe comments on technique made elsewhere in the book. There are many other recipes given for poultry, lamb, fish, vegetables, bread, accompaniments; I hope that this adaptation serves as an advertisement for the book, which belongs on any comprehensive barbecue bookshelf.

This chicken is the first dish I've made on my cooker that is both exciting enough for me, and exciting to Laurie's nine year old daughter, who has requested that we make it every night.

1 whole chicken, 3-4 lbs

2 TB vinegar

3 TB oil

1/2 TB ground chile or hot paprika

1 tsp salt

This is a typical size for a U.S. chicken, but roughly twice the size of the chicken specified in the recipe, so I give cooking times longer than the book. Nevertheless, quantities here yield plenty of marinade; I'd double everything for three chickens. One can follow the book's cooking times more closely for "tikka", or uniform chunks of meat.

Quarter and skin the chicken, and pierce various places with a knife. Trim the quarters of any extraneous extremities, setting the scraps aside to freeze with the wings and backbone for stock. Mix the marinade ingredients, toss the chicken quarters in the marinade, and chill for an hour or so.

Arrange the ingredients for the second marinade:

1 cup yogurt

1 tsp salt

2 TB ginger

2 TB garlic

1 bay leaf

3 cloves

4 green cardamom pods

1/4 tsp mace

1/4 tsp nutmeg

1 TB black peppercorns

1 tsp caraway seeds

3 red chiles

1 TB oil

Drain the yogurt through a paper towel and a strainer. In a large Thai mortar and pestle or equivalent machine, pound the ginger and garlic with the salt to a paste. Use only the black insides of the cardamom pods; seed the chiles. In a heavy frying pan, gently roast each of the dry spices until fragrant, grind in a spice grinder, and pound into the mortar paste. Mix in the oil and yogurt. Drain the original marinade from the chicken, coat with the new marinade, and chill for six hours or as long as practical.

("White" cardamom is simply a bleached version of the green, so stock one kind, green. If you can find mace in strands as shown in the picture, it is far superior to preground mace.)

4 to 8 TB ghee (or clarified butter)

Preheat the cooker to 600 F, and set up the upper grill for direct cooking. Have a mop and melted ghee at the ready for basting. Put on the quarters, adjust the cooker to 550 F or so, and turn and baste every 5 minutes. The chicken will be done in 20 to 30 minutes, a matter of taste, the actual cooking temperature, and the size of the bird.

As tempting as it is to apply this approach to spatchcocked (butterflied) chicken, at these temperatures either the legs or the breast can finish first. In my opinion the breasts are done when a Thermapen registers in the 140's to 150's F anywhere one probes, and the legs are done in the 150's to 160's. Some may regard these temperatures as undercooked, so cook instead to your liking. The quarters will continue to cook a bit after they come off.

Edited by Syzygies
Restore lost pictures
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