tandoori chicken breasts
adapted from Savoring India by Julie Sahni
classic tandoori chicken is usually skinless, but since chicken skin is one of my favorite culinary delights (when cooked properly -- crisp and brown), I'm experimented with leaving the skin on this tandoori style chicken. since I make my own yogurt, I usually keep several different thicknesses on hand. thick Greek yogurt is wonderful with fruit for breakfast, or atop baked potatoes, but I find thinner yogurt is quite useful, too. I made this marinade with un-strained, plain yogurt, and even added a little additional whey (strained from the Greek yogurt) to help it penetrate the chicken better, and for flavor. the smoked Spanish paprika gives the finishes dish a little more "grilled" flavor, especially helpful if you roast (rather than grill) the chicken, but you can substitute regular paprika.
rinse chicken breasts and pat dry with paper towels. mix the yogurt, lemon juice, garlic, ginger (both are very easily grated on a microplane, which every cook should own for all kinds of kitchen purposes!), cumin, ground coriander, smoked paprika, cayenne pepper, cardamom, cloves and black pepper. add salt to taste. place the chicken breasts in a non-reactive baking pan, plastic food storage container or a large ziplock bag. pour the yogurt mixture over the chicken and rub it in well. cover (if using a pan) or seal (if using a ziplock bag or plastic storage container) and refrigerate for at least 6 hours, or overnight.
at least 30 minutes before cooking, remove chicken from refrigerator, and preheat the oven to 400 °F. lightly oil a baking/roasting pan (you can use the same pan in which you marinated the chicken; just wash and dry it first), and arrange the chicken breasts, skin up, evenly spaced in the pan. spoon any remaining marinade over them. toss the sliced white onion with the oil in a small bowl and strew the sliced onions over the chicken breasts. place the pan in the oven and cook for 35 to 50 minutes, depending on the size of the chicken breasts. test for doneness by inserting an instant-read meat thermometer into the thickest part of the meat; they're ready when the temperature registers 165 °F to 180 °F (another way to check: look for the juices run clear when pierced with a knife near the bone).
*note: you can also roast an entire chicken this way -- just prepare the marinade in a similar way. using a small paring knife, cut slits in the thickest parts of the breast, thighs and tops of the legs with a stabbing motion, to help the marinade absorb. place the whole chicken in a roasting dish and arrange the onion slices around, placing a few inside the chicken cavity.
garnish with fresh cilantro and wedges of lemon. serve with freshly cooked basmati rice and a fresh cilantro-coconut chutney and/or raita (both recipes below). serves 4.
- 1 bunch fresh cilantro (minus a bit used to garnish the chicken and/or make raita), stemmed and roughly chopped
- 1 fresh jalapeno or serrano chile, stemmed, seeds and membranes removed, and minced
- 1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
- 4 tablespoons shredded coconut (unsweetened)
- 1/2 teaspoon sugar
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon vegetable oil
- 1/2 teaspoon water, if needed
- pinch of salt, to taste
- 1/2 teaspoon black mustard seed (sometimes called brown mustard seed)
- 1 cup plain yogurt (regular or Greek)
- 1/2 medium-large cucumber, peeled, seeded and grated
- 1 medium carrot, peeled and grated
- 5-6 cherry or grape tomatoes, diced
- 2 green onions, minced
- 2-3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/4 teaspoon turmeric
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly-ground black pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1-2 teaspoons of water or milk to thin sauce (if using Greek yogurt
- 1/2 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
- 1/2 teaspoon sugar (optional)
- 1 teaspoon black mustard seed (sometimes called brown mustard seed
- 1/4 teaspoon garam masala