Sunday, January 9, 2011

Tandoori Chicken, Reworked (Cook's Illustrated Style)

Is it safe to come out, now that the holidays are over?  Don't get me wrong-- I'm not a Grinch during the month of December.  This Christmas, however, will go down in my personal history as the day that my appetite disappeared for two weeks.  The sight or thought of food did absolutely nothing for me, can you believe it?! Apparently a new medicine that my doctor prescribed decided to kick in on Christmas Eve.  My husband watched, with a perplexed look, as I two two bites of my slow-roasted prime rib.  The creamed spinach and special potatoes amounted to about 1 teaspoon of each.   I didn't even photograph the finished meal because I felt queasy and downright miserable. My appetite is slowly returning, and I've lost 12 pounds since December 1st. It's a good thing, but I also know it's important that I eat-- so I have to psyche myself into eating.  (I'll explain more at the bottom of this post about my newly diagnosed Diabetes to spare those of you who want to pass on my stories of injecting a new drug and my progress.)

I made this dish in early December, while I had already begun my pre-holiday goal of eating healthier and dropping some pounds. Time, and my appetite setback,  got in the way of posting this. Now that I can enjoy looking at food again, I'm happy to share this recipe with you.  While organizing the photos, I could recall how much I loved the flavor of this dish.    I had bookmarked this Cook's Illustrated recipe several months ago and then I stumbled across it again.  Per Cook's Illustrated, "authentic versions call for a 24-hour marinade and a tandoor, a traditional beehive-shaped clay oven—requirements that keep the dish mainly in the realm of restaurants." In the method of CI that I love so much, they set out to reinvent this Indian classic into a recipe that could be made year-round in the oven.  This is how they did it:

We begin with 3 pounds bone-in, skin-on chicken parts (breasts, thighs, and drumsticks, or a mix, with breasts cut in half), trimmed of excess fat and skin removed.

Garam Masala is a key component for this recipe.  I'm still learning about Indian cooking, so it wasn't until I made Cook's Illustrated's Tikka Masala dish, I wasn't familiar with garam masala.  According to CI, "Though there are countless variations of garam masala, the warm flavors (garam means “warm” or “hot” and masala means “spice blend”) dominating this Indian spice blend are consistent: black pepper, dried chiles, cinnamon, cardamom, and coriander are staples, while cloves, cumin, fennel, mace, and nutmeg frequently turn up as supporting players."  Finding this spice blend has become much easier. I found mine at my local supermarket.

You need yogurt, to marinate the chicken with.  I used Greek Non-Fat yogurt, because I love how thick and rich it is.


You also need chili powder and cumin...

There's a little more prep work to go-- you need the juice of two limes, freshly minced garlic and ginger...

Using sharp knife, lightly score skinned side of each piece of chicken, making 2 or 3 shallow cuts about 1 inch apart and about 1/8 inch deep; transfer to bowl. The prep work took me about 30 minutes, between washing my hands a lot while taking photos.  Ready?

We're going to "bloom" the spices and reserve half as a rub, and the other half to flavor the yogurt that we'll marinate the chicken with.  Heat oil in small skillet over medium heat until shimmering. Add garlic and ginger and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.

 The aroma is packed with so much flavor!  We're just getting started...

Transfer half of garlic-spice mixture to medium bowl; stir in yogurt and 2 tablespoons lime juice and set aside.
In large bowl, combine remaining garlic-spice mixture, remaining 2 tablespoons lime juice, and salt.  I didn't photograph the next step of using my hands to gently massage salt-spice mixture into chicken until all pieces are evenly coated; let stand at room temperature 30 minutes.(It's a bit messy and I didn't want to get my camera all dirty.) Pour yogurt mixture over chicken and toss until chicken is evenly coated with thick layer.

 Next, adjust oven rack to upper-middle position (about 6 inches from heating element) and heat oven to 325 degrees.


Arrange chicken pieces, scored-side down, on wire rack set in foil-lined, rimmed baking sheet or broiler pan.
Discard excess yogurt mixture.

Bake chicken until instant-read thermometer inserted into thickest part of chicken registers 125 degrees for breasts and 130 for legs and thighs, 15 to 25 minutes. (Smaller pieces may cook faster than larger pieces.
Transfer chicken pieces to plate as they reach correct temperature.) After removing chicken from oven, turn oven to broil and heat 10 minutes.

The broiler is ready...

Once broiler is heated, flip chicken pieces over and broil until chicken is lightly charred in spots and instant-read thermometer inserted into thickest part of chicken registers 165 degrees for breasts and 175 for legs and thighs, 8 to 15 minutes.

The method of broiling the chicken mimics the way that juices fall, in a tandoor oven,  on the coals along with rendered fat, creating smoke that flavors the food.

I also created a brown basmatic rice with garam masala and some other delicious aromatics.

My husband loves Indian food.  He was both surprised and thrilled to see his "Foodiewife" making a dish I'm really not familiar with.  I admit, I was looking forward to tasting this dinner.

VERDICT:  When my husband really likes the flavor of something, he let's out a slow moan.  I smiled, as he savored the flavor of this dish and he complimented me over and over again.  My husband can handle really spicy food much better than I can.  On a scale of 1-5, the heat of this dish is about a 2.5.  If you love to breathe fire, you might want to kick up the spice heat. To me, it was perfect.  This is not boring chicken! It was tender, flavorful and very healthy.  I loved this dish so much, that I'm going to pay closer attention to learning how to make more Indian dishes. I am really bonding with the traditional Indian spice combination, and I look forward to adding more spices to my pantry. Cook's Illustrated did it again-- they figured out how to make juicy, lightly charred, well-seasoned meat with just the right degree of tenderness. A printable recipe card is at the very bottom of this post.






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21 comments:

bellini valli said...

Your doctor sounds like a gem and 98% of us are trying to loose weight with our New years resolutions, determined to eat healthily and excercise every day. Good for you for taking the initiative Debby!! I do love tandoori.

Spice said...

I guess I'm stopping by first time here & no doubt your tandoori chicken made me write this comment, as an Indian who grew up eating this chicken on regular basis I can say U have done this dish so nicely....may be next time I'll also try with sauted garlic ginger(as we usually don't do that for tandoori chicken)....I'm also fan of cooks Illustrated....

Sorry to hear about your diabetes...as U said U gonna try more Indian food, U might wanna look into fenugreek & bittermelon(veggies)as they are suppose to be helpful in diabetes and otherwise also very good.

Amy said...

Debby, I love Indian food, but I have never ventured to make some for myself at home. I've got to give you a hearty thank you for a great step-by-step tutorial through the process of making one of my favorite no-longer-restaurant-only dishes! Tandoori chicken packs a ton of flavor, and I'm excited to get to try this in my own kitchen.

Your optimism in the midst of Diabetes is inspiring. Moderation is the key for all of us, I think. Blessings to you on your healing process!

Bridgett said...

Glad to read your positive spirit about your diabetes and I wish you much luck with your meds and continued health. The tandoori looks and sounds fabulous and I too would let out a slow moan at the first bite.

Cathy said...

Debby, I'm sorry to read that you are dealing with diabetes, but it sounds like you are in good hands and are responding to treatment. So many of us are trying to eat healthier and more balanced diets this new year. I'm looking forward to trying your wonderful recipes, and will start with your tandoori chicken. It looks fantastic.

Nan said...

Man, Debbie, these look incredibly good and I'm a fan of Tandoori Chicken! Ymmmmmmm

Good luck on the weight loss. I'm right there with ya!

TKW said...

Debby, I've been so out of it--I'm sorry about the Type 2 diagnosis. It sounds like you are weathering things with your usual verve and good cheer.

We're tandoori lovers over here--extra spice, please :)

Frieda said...

Thanks for answering my question on the heat level...Hubby can handle a 10 while I can handle a 2. This chicken looks absolutely amazing and I've never tried Indian dishes because of the heat. This is one reason why I cook/bake. I can tweak the ingredients to my liking. Thanks for the recipe and good luck with the injections ~

Joanne said...

Debby I love your attitude about all this! You are such a go get em kind of gal so I know you'll be able to rise above this! Someday you'll look back on your type II diabetes and and will be able to say, yeah I beat that.

This tandoori chicken sounds absolutely delicious! I lvoe eating Indian food but never make it. I'll have to give this a try!

Val said...

Your food always looks incredible. Love this.

Allie said...

I'm glad the holidays are over too, don't feel bad! Sorry that your appetite wasn't so great. I had a stomach bug for a few days and the thought of any kind of food made me so queasy. Weird when foodies don't want to think about food! Your chicken looks lovely and even better that it is a healthy recipe! I'd like to become more adventurous and try some Indian recipes.

Again, I'm so proud of your progress. Congrats on the weight loss and being so brave. I'm terrified of needles so I know that takes courage. We need you around for many many years to come so thank goodness you're doing well :)

LadyJayPee said...

I hope you feel completely well soon and I'm glad to hear you're taking good care of YOU!

Kate said...

Hi Debby....sorry to hear that you are having to deal with diabetes. I hope that you meet your goal. You are fortunate to be under the care of a great doctor.

The Short (dis)Order Cook said...

*hugs* Diabetes is scary. My paternal grandmother had it and since I take after that side of the family (we're all a bunch of short,lumpy, trolls) I definitely do fear that fate for myself. I love your positive attitude and I'm glad you have such a great doctor.

But not feeling well for Christmas has to suck! Even though I don't want to deal wtih holiday weight gain, I still want to eat it all.

What a great chicken recipe. My husband and I are big Indian food lovers ourselves. I sometimes like to use my big clay pot to cook chicken and call it my "tandoor" (I also call it my tagine). It doesn't get the chicken nice and charred though. It comes out tender and sort of stewed.

Cynthia said...

I just found your blog and from what I've seen so far I think I will be faith follower. This recipe for Tandoori Chicken looks great and I plan to try it. But I have a question. There are two place in the ingredient list where it says to see note, by the garam masala and the whole-milk yogurt but I don't see the note anywhere. I may have just overlooked it but could you please let me know what the notes say? A small thing but sometimes the notes are important when ingredients are unfamiliar as the spices are to me.

Again you've done a super job with this and I can't wait to dig deeper.

Take care of yourself, diabetes runs in my family also. Sounds like you have a good handle on it though.

A Feast for the Eyes said...

Dear Cynthia,
Thank you for pointing out the "see note" on my recipe card. I had cut and pasted it from Cook's Illustrated, and forgot that only subscribers can read the notes. I edited that to be a bit more descriptive. Essentially, CI was explaining what Garam masala is and they were explaining that baking the chicken on a low-heat was intentional...low and slow. Broiling finishes off the chicken to be moist and tender. Thanks again!

Ciao Chow Linda said...

I'm so sorry you're having to deal with those health issues but it sounds like you've got a great doctor and you're being intelligent about treating the problem. That's a heck of a way to lose weight though! I love the flavorful chicken and rice recipe too and want to give them both a try.

Zoe said...

I came here looking for your sweinbraten, found pretzles, but I will leave you with prayers and the knowing that perfect (OK - imperfect, but whose checking?) strangers sincerely wish you well. I hope your medicine works for you. Health is fragile.

The Chef In My Head said...

Dear Debby, This chicken looks amazing and I can only imagine how good your kitchen smelled. I love spicy food!!

On the diabeties from, I am looking for an endocronologist here, just got word my glucose levels were too high. Both of my parents are diabetics and I guess it was only a matter of time. :/

I wish you the best of luck! ~Leslie

Gloria (The Little Red House with the White Porch) said...

I hope to try this soon, Debby. It looks so, so delicious. And I hope that your diabetes is under control and things aren't too difficult for you. I just said a prayer for you.
Thanks for sharing this recipe!
Best,
Gloria

aissa said...

looks so yummy and delicious.

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