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Tandoori Paste Question

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I recently made a recipe from Everyday Food Magazine called Tandoori chicken. Having actually had Tandoori chicken once I knew there's more to it than yogurt, tumeric, garlic, ginger and two bone-in skinless chicken breast halves. Then recently I was watching Mark Bittman on TV and he was using tandoori paste. I didn't know there was premade Tandoori paste, so I went to a nearby market that I pass often named Chatterjee Grocery which I suspected was an Indian market. With the help of a very polite elderly gentleman I bought a bottle of Nirav tandoori paste. It was a very funky place but as I reminded myself, while gingerly examining things, it wasn't quite as High Funk as my favorite oriental grocery.

The bottle gives a recipe for Tandoori Chicken, which starts off "mix the beaten yogurt wit the tandoori paste" so I went to the Nirav website which seems to assume you wouldn't even be there if you didn't know the basics.

I then googled Tandoori and found two recipes, one for Cornish Hens (which is what I wanted to cook) but requires making your own Tandoori Masala. The other was for tandoori turkey bits and said to mix 1 tablespoon tandoori paste to 1 teaspoon lemon juice, and 3 tablespoons yogurt. Since I was doing a Cornish Hen I doubled the ingredients, and the resuslts were disaqppointing. Also there wasn't much to the tandoori paste, yogurt mixture, and on the show with Bittman, the food was dripping tandoori paste.

I also broiled the hens, since I only have an electric range. So, assuming I would like to cook tandoori chicken legs, using two whole legs, what proportion of tandoori paste to yogurt should I use, what else should I add to the mixture, and how long should I marinate it? Should I bake or broil, and if baking, at what temperature? I know it won't be the real thing, but I would like to achieve a result that is a bit less unlike the real thing.

"A fool", he said, "would have swallowed it". Samuel Johnson

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Nice to see your experimentation with the tandoori chicken.

I am a converted non-veg eater so do take my advices with a few pinches of salt and other spcies of your liking.

By the way the red color you see on tandoori chickens is usually some sort of food coloring. And as far as the yogurt is concerned, I believe it does act as an acid during marination. Times for marination can vary depending on the taste that you want, we usually do ours overnight to 24 hours in the refrigerator. If we remember, we toss it around a couple of times. If yogurt is thick, we put in enough to coat the chicken. By the way, we do use boneless - skinless chicken breasts or tenders and usually don't mix lemon/lime with yogurt.

We bake ours at about 300 degrees checking often in an open sheet pan. That gives that nice and dry feel. If you want a more wetter feel then you can do it in a foil covered pan. Ginger, garlic, salt, pepper turmeric, paprika (color), cayene (heat), yogurt are regulars to the party. Try jalapenos or their paste for more fire.

With tenders, I have also experimented sauteeing fajita-style (tenders) and it works good too.

Hope this helps

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Hi Arey,

Not knowing the brand is a little like shooting in the dark (I would imagine :hmmm: ) for me, but I must assume the paste is of sufficient quality to give a good product.

I make tandoori chicken breasts often, and a good dish (with creamy tomato and ginger sauce) for those starting to enjoy Indian food, but are a little concerned about the 'heat' which can be typical of this cuisine.

The keys to success are as follows:

the yoghurt should be low fat, this allows better penetration of the water into the chicken, so that, when cooking/cooked, the meat is very moist.

marinade for 24 hours (in fridge). This allows the above to happen, with shorter times, the marinade is wetter, and the results inferior.

I would use 250 g low fat yoghurt to a heaped tablespoon of paste (I use the dry spice mix, tandoori masala, look for it next time!) It usually contains the red colouring.

use a couple of fresh cloves of garlic and about the same amount of finely minced fresh root ginger.

The yoghurt and ginger both help to tenderize the meat.

I either grill (broil?) under a very hot salamander or on a charcoal grill, the secret here is the very high temperature.

The meat should be cooked until the extremities are slightly charred.

Sprinkling with a little chaat masala helps to get an even meatier taste, IMHO.

The breasts can be used to prepare other dishes.

HTH, post if more info needed



I am cooking this for a meal next Tuesday for a person who has never eaten Indian food before. I am cofident it will be a hit; I cooked it for a French student of mine who proclaimed it (to his Mother who obviously wasn't pleased :shock: ) the best food he had ever had. C'est la vie. :laugh:

Edited by waaza (log)
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I either grill (broil?) under a very hot salamander or on a charcoal grill, the secret here is the very high temperature.

The meat should be cooked until the extremities are slightly charred.

I agree with Waaza that the meat should be cooked at very high temp. However, if you have a blender, you don't need the tandoori paste--make your own and adjust it to your taste! Blend 1 coarsely chopped onion, a 1" chunk of fresh ginger, 2-3 garlic cloves, 1 tsp ground toasted cumin, 1 tsp ground toasted coriander seed, 1-3 chopped jalapenos (depending on heat and your taste), 1 Tbs garam masala, 1-1/2 C yoghurt (I use low-fat). I also agree that tandoori masala is a good addition, but you can use food dye (liquid is messy, powder is better). I only use bone-in chicken thighs (not breasts), though, because the breasts dry out too quickly. I slash the thighs to the bone and rub with a bit of salt and fresh lemon juice before making the marinade, then marinate overnight.

He who distinguishes the true savor of his food can never be a glutton; he who does not cannot be otherwise. --- Henry David Thoreau
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I agree with Jay, :smile: but can confirm that if using fat-free yoghurt and 24 hour marinating, the breast does remain moist and tender (every time).

Preparing your own spice mix would be the way to go, as you have ultimate control of ingredients. I never use onions, though, as these left in water-based liquid (for 24 hours) can become bitter an/or produce off flavours.

You pays yer money...... :raz:



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Thanks everyone for the suggestions. I'm sure the next time I try to make Tandoori chicken It'll be more flavorful. I'll definitely slash the chicken thighs and let them marinate overnight. I'll also buy some of the seasonings mentioned in your posts, and try them.

"A fool", he said, "would have swallowed it". Samuel Johnson

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  • 2 weeks later...
why exactly does low-fat yoghurt work better than full fat yoghurt?  how hot is a hot oven for tandoori chicken?

Low-fat works better for me because my wife insist on it. (Actually, I think full fat will work fine.) Either way, wipe off excess marinade before roasting.

As for oven temp, crank yours up as high as it will go. Mine goes up to 550 F (about 290 C).

He who distinguishes the true savor of his food can never be a glutton; he who does not cannot be otherwise. --- Henry David Thoreau
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why exactly does low-fat yoghurt work better than full fat yoghurt?  how hot is a hot oven for tandoori chicken?

I think it's because the yoghurt can be absorbed more easily into the chicken. I think it enters the chicken by capillary action, and not osmosis, as most cooks imagine. If this is the case, then water based liquids will penetrate easier than oil based ones.

The chicken which has marinated for 24 hours in low fat yoghurt based marinade penetrates to depth of about 1/4 inch, as indicated by the food colouring. This leaves the suface of the chicken drier after marination, which allows the meat to cook quicker under the grill and reduces the tendency to leave 'pockets' of wet marinade in the cuts, but gives a moist product as more water is absorbed by the flesh.



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i want to make tandoori fish for a bbq party tomorrow.  i know nothing about bbqing.  will tandoori work on the grill?

yes, it works very well, especially with a little wood smoke.

Choose a firm white fish, and don't overdo the spices. You probably don't need long marinading, the secret here is subtlety. If you are using whole fish, putting fresh herbs in the cavity can work well, too. Make sure you serve with lots of lemon/lime wedges.

good luck, and please tell us how it went. :biggrin:



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i want to make tandoori fish for a bbq party tomorrow.  i know nothing about bbqing.  will tandoori work on the grill?

To add to Waaza's reply, be sure to wipe off the tandoori marinade totally before putting the fish on the grill, and make sure the grill is very hot and very clean---otherwise the fish will stick.

Edited by JayBassin (log)
He who distinguishes the true savor of his food can never be a glutton; he who does not cannot be otherwise. --- Henry David Thoreau
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thanks for the advice. i had the "men in charge of fire" put the fish on first - before the meat and when the grill was still clean. it turned out lovely. i had planned to take pictures of our little rooftop bbq party but it rained and rained and then it rained some more :laugh:

"Thy food shall be thy medicine" -Hippocrates

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