Smoky charred tandoori chicken is delicious served on its own or added to a curry like chicken tikka masala. Using my charcoal method, you will achieve the taste of the tandoor while cooking in a frying pan. Adding the charcoal is optional so if it sounds a bit too much like hard work, leave out that step. If you would rather cook in the oven, simply place the marinated chicken on a wire rack in an oven that has been pre-heated to 200ºC/gas mark 6 and roast until cooked through, turning once. If using a meat thermometer, aim for 75-80ºC.
Prep time: 10-20 minutes, plus marinating
Cooking time: 15 minutes, plus smoking
8 chicken thighs, skinned
juice of 1 lemon
1-2 pieces of charcoal (optional)
3 generous tbsp ghee or rapeseed oil
½ tsp garam masala
1 onion, thinly sliced
2 limes, quartered
For the marinade
200g Greek yoghurt
1 tbsp cream cheese
1 tbsp rapeseed oil
1 tsp ground turmeric
1 tbsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tbsp red chilli powder
1 tbsp tandoori masala
2 tbsp mixed garlic and ginger paste (see below)
Use a sharp knife to make 3 shallow incisions in each chicken thigh, put them in a bowl and mix with the lemon juice and ¾ tsp salt.
Whisk all of the marinade ingredients together until you have a smooth emulsion. If you don’t mind getting your hands dirty, this can be done by hand. Pour the marinade over the chicken and rub it into the flesh and slits. Cover with cling film and marinate for at least 30 minutes or overnight in the fridge.
When ready to cook, light two pieces of charcoal and let them turn white hot. This step should be done outdoors and is optional.
Melt the ghee in a frying pan with a tight-fitting lid over medium-high heat. When visibly hot, place the chicken pieces in the pan. Don’t overcrowd your pan as the chicken will release water and it won’t char correctly. (Fry in batches if necessary.) Fry on the first side for about 2 minutes, then turn them over and fry on the opposite side for another 2 minutes until you have a nice charred crust on both sides. Reduce the heat if needed and continue frying for about 8 more minutes, turning from time to time, until cooked through.
Move the cooked chicken to the sides of the pan, leaving a well in the centre. Carefully transfer the charcoal to a piece of silver foil and lower it into the centre of the pan. Drizzle about a teaspoon of oil on the charcoal and it will start smoking heavily.
Cover the pan and let the chicken smoke for about 5 minutes, or until the smoke has died down inside. Garnish a warmed plate with the sliced onion and lime quarters add the chicken, season with salt to taste and serve.
Mixed garlic and ginger paste
Garlic and ginger paste is so easy to make. Simply peel equal amounts of garlic and ginger and blend with just enough water to make a paste. If this sounds like a bit too much work, you can also purchase it ready made at Asian grocers and most supermarkets. You can also substitute grated or finely chopped garlic and ginger for the blended paste. Some stores only stock garlic paste and ginger paste in separate jars. Just take equal amounts of both out and mix them to make the garlic and ginger paste needed.
Extracted from The Curry Guy Easy by Dan Toombs (Quadrille, approx €15). Photography © Kris Kirkham.