My favourite South Asian grocery store recently went out of business. I am, understandably, devastated.
Last time my sister visited from The Island we decided to hit up our beloved shop so she could stock her pantry. An abundance of exotic spices, fresh fenugreek, 20 pound bags of Basmati rice, what’s not to love? Not least of which are my beloved Shan spice packets.
Yes, I run a food blog and yes, I love pre-made spice mixes. Well, I love the Shan brand ones, anyway. They are spectacular. The Murgh Cholay and Keema Curry are particularly popular at my house, whoa nelly… so good.
Anyway, the two of us drove out to South Vancouver all excited to replenish our reserves and when we got there- the shop was picked bare! Like, BARE. Rows of empty shelves. I asked the woman up at the front what was going on an she explained to us that the shop had been sold. There was some mention of a new owner who I hope stocks pretty much all the same stuff at pretty much the same price. Fingers crossed (ha). As a silver lining, everything left on the shelves was 50% off so, naturally, we bought pretty much all of it.
In the meantime, this gave me an excellent and very overdue opportunity to get off my food blogging butt and actually attempt a dish or two on my own. I have all the spices after all, I just needed to mix them up at home in the right proportions. Taste, taste, taste!
Traditional tandoori chicken is, as the name suggests, cooked in a tandoor. I do not have a tandoor (yet? It will come with that outdoor wood fired oven the minute I win the lottery, right?), so the barbecue would have to do.
I learned a lot about tandoori chicken while researching this recipe. For instance, do you know why tandoori chicken is typically bright red? Spoiler alert, it’s not because of cayenne or paprika or any other spice. It’s food colouring.
Red tandoori chicken in a restaurant? Food colouring.
Yep, there it is. There is the mystery. You can make this recipe with or without the colour adding ingredients, it will taste just as good, I promise. But if you’re looking for that visual ‘tandoori chicken’ pow, sadly you will need to finesse it a bit with some chicken make-up.
Chicken cosmetics. Huh. I guess that really is what food colouring is in this case. Like the sweep of Nars blush I swept across my cheeks this morning so people don’t ask if I’m tired/sick/hungover. Nope, none of the above. I went to sleep at 9pm last night after a pot of herbal tea. This is just my regular face, jerks.
Oooh, that got off topic fast. In short, bright red tandoori chicken is fake but it’s also delicious? Your call on whether or not to include the extra colouring, true beauty really is on the inside… because it’s marinated.
Update: If you make enough for leftovers, treat yourself to this epic pizza 😀
On a side note, if you’re a fan of easy Indian food at home, might I suggest this quick, easy (and healthy) butter chicken recipe as well. You can thank me later.
|Homemade Tandoori Chicken|| |
- 1 cup plain yogurt
- 1 Tbsp lemon juice
- ½ tsp ground clove
- ¼ tsp nutmeg
- 1 tsp fresh ground black pepper
- 1 tsp cayenne
- 1½ tsp cinnamon
- 2 tsp cumin
- 1 Tbsp fresh ginger, grated
- 2 tsp salt
- 1 tsp smoked paprika
- 1 Tbsp garlic, crushed
- ~5 drops red food colouring*
- ½ tsp turmeric*
- 2 lbs chicken pieces (breast, thighs, legs, up to you!)
- 1 onion, halved and thinly sliced
- 1 lemon, sliced
- Mix together marinade ingredients. If you are using boneless chicken breasts, cover them with a bit of plastic wrap and beat them until they are an even width- roughly ¾ to ½ an inch if you can. This will ensure the chicken cooks evenly on the barbecue and doesn't dry out.
- Add chicken pieces and marinate for 8 hours or overnight.
- Grill chicken on barbecue. Serve with rice, fresh onion slices and lemon wedges.