Make, Jane, make!: Tandoori Style BBQ Chicken


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Friday, August 19, 2011

Tandoori Style BBQ Chicken

It's been a busy few days over here as summer starts to wind down and we try to fit in as many fun outdoor activities as we can before (gulp) school begins for my firstborn. Time flies when you've got more than one :)

This is a nice recipe I like to make in the summer because it doesn't involve heating up the house and is mostly marinating and grilling. Not much cutting and only medium level prepping. Goes well with Indian sides dishes or just serve it up any way you'd serve a grilled or roasted chicken.

Grab a mini chopper or a sharp knife and chop up equal amounts of ginger and garlic. (If you keep your ginger in the freezer, like myself, you can give it a bit of a nuke to defrost it in a jiffy).

Grab a bowl big enough to hold your whole chicken and combine the garlic, ginger, lime juice, chopped hot peppers (if you want), some yogurt and enough cream to thin out your yogurt if it's especially thick.

Gather up all your spices and add those too, along with some salt. (Had to use these pinch bowls that I received as a gift. I never use them otherwise... usually too lazy to measure things out exactly, and who says there's a problem with too much spice?)

Mix up your marinade and prepare your chicken. You could easily use breasts, thighs, a quartered chicken, or whatever you have on hand. I like to use a spatchcocked chicken because it really keeps the moisture in compared to cut-up pieces of chicken, but cooks a lot faster than an unflattened whole chicken.

It's an easy process, even if you've never attempted it before. The basic idea is to cut out the backbone of the chicken (insert cheesy joke about spineless chickens here) and flatten it all out.

Using either a knife or a pair of kitchen shears, cut along both sides of the backbone. I find it easiest to start from the neck side and move toward the thighs. The bones here are small and should be very easy to cut through, if you hit the thighs and find some resistance, then push down on each side of the backbone until the thighs pop out of their sockets, and you should be able to find a nice path to cut along between the dislocated thigh joint and backbone.

[Insert another bad joke about this spineless sucker here].

Flip your bird over and tuck the wing tips under the chicken's armpits, this will keep them from sticking out and getting all burnt. Alternately you could cut them off. Press down on the breast with the palm of your hand to crack the wishbone and chest bone, or until the breast seems to flatten out a bit.

Cut some slits into the thickest parts of the meat to let the marinade penetrate and drop the chicken into your prepared tandoori yogurt mix. This part is messy. Using your hands (gloves if you wish) and rub the marinade all over the chicken - skin side, bone side and inside all the slits. Let sit for at least an hour... but the longer, the better.

When you're ready to grill. Heat up the bbq to 400F and plop your chicken on, skin side down first. You don't need to wipe off the yogurt, just give it a slight shake if it's really heavily coated. Cook on the skin side for about 30 minutes then flip it over and cook with the breast up for another 30-40 minutes until your chicken is done. (Test the temp. in the thigh and breast).

Another beauty of spatchcocked chicken is that you can cook it a fairly long time with the bone side down without anything burning. Meaning that you can get perfectly cooked skin and then flip it over and grill as long as necessary to ensure thorough cooking. As you can see with my opening picture, hubby had a little problem with a fire in the grill and the skin got much more black than my usual perfectly crispy reddish brown :P

This time round, we served it with some naan from the supermarket (which freezes incredibly well, by the way), shredded leaf lettuce, diced fresh tomatoes and some pickled radishes. Super yum and fresh.

The whole grilled chicken is really easy to carve or to cut up into pieces. The bone gets really brittle from the grilling, so even a steak knife would probably cut the chicken up into serving sized pieces.

Saved one of the breasts and some leftover thigh for butter chicken the following night.  Equally yummy and much richer! Thought I wouldn't want this again so soon, but now writing this post is making me think about tandoori chicken again. Luckily, it's on the menu for our annual summer bbq in two weeks :)


Tandoori-Style BBQ Chicken (adapted from 1000 Indian Recipes by Neelam Batra)

1 whole chicken (ours are usually about 5 lbs, reduce your amounts accordingly for smaller chickens or pieces)
1 inch piece ginger
7-8 cloves garlic
1-2 serrano peppers, chopped and ribs/seeds removed (or in this case, 1 anaheim chili, chopped)
1 lime, juiced
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup plain yogurt
1-2 tbsp cream (to thin yogurt if necessary)
1-1/2 tsp garam masala
1-2 tsp ground fenugreek seeds/powder
1 tsp ground cumin
2-3 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp turmeric

  • In a bowl large enough to accomodate the chicken, mix together all the marinade ingredients.
  • Prepare the chicken as desired and add to marinade, making sure to rub thoroughly into all surfaces. Let sit for at least an hour or up to overnight.
  • Preheat your grill to 400F.
  • Add the chicken to the preheated grill, skin side down. Shake off excessive amounts of marinade if necessary.
  • Close lid of bbq and grill for 30 minutes, or until skin is charred to your liking.
  • Flip the chicken over so that the breast is facing up and the bone side is down. Cover and grill another 30-45 minutes until the internal temperature is appropriate for the cut of chicken you've prepared.
  • Let the chicken sit for about 5-10 minutes after removing it from the grill.
  • Enjoy!


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