by Sabina Kapoor
Tandoori chicken originated in the Punjab before the independence of India and Pakistan. In India, tandoori cooking was traditionally associated with the State of Punjab and became popular in the mainstream after the 1947 partition when Punjabis resettled in places such as Delhi.
Tandoori Chicken was popularized in post-independent India by the Moti Mahal Restaurant, owned by Kundan Lal Jaggi, Thakur Das Mago and Kundan Lal Gujaral, Delhi, when it was served to the first Prime Minister of India, Jawaharlal Nehru. The tandoori chicken at Moti Mahal so impressed Nehru, that he made it a regular at official banquets. Visiting dignitaries who enjoyed tandoori chicken included American Presidents Richard Nixon and John F. Kennedy, Soviet leaders Nikolai Bulganin and Nikita Khrushchev, the King of Nepal, and the Shah of Iran. ~ Wikipedia
Sabina Kapoor is a beautiful human being, through and through. Beauty is synonymous with her. Her home, her family, her entertaining, her work at her Beauty Spa, all carry her sense of beauty and style. Mother of two charming daughters and now grandmother to two energetic grandchildren, her home is always welcoming visitors from near and far.
Staying in Punjab, a staple on her menu is Tandoori Chicken, a favourite of the Punjabis. Her recipe is a simple, fuss free and delicious version of the Tandoori Chicken made famous by the ‘Moti Mahal’ restaurant in Delhi. For the modern household, using a tandoor indoors and in apartments is not possible. Sabina Kapoor uses her kitchen counter top oven to get the same taste and texture as chicken cooked in a tandoor. This makes her recipe of Tandoori Chicken a must have for all of us.
Her secret is that she buys a raw chicken and deep freezes it for about 24 hours before defrosting it to start the marination process. According to her this helps in softening the chicken and makes the flesh less stringy. For getting the right flavour she uses two marinades. It is also important to marinate the chicken for as long as she has suggested. In fact, for convenience sake she marinates portions of the chicken in food grade Ziploc bags and keeps them in the freezer. This makes it easy to have a party dish ready when unexpected visitors arrive.
500 gms broiler chicken, cut into 6 pieces
3 inch piece ginger
6 garlic pods
1 tsp salt
1. Weigh the chicken and cut into appropriate pieces.
2. With a knife, make deep gashes on both sides of the chicken pieces.
3. Make a paste of ginger and garlic and rub this thoroughly on the chicken pieces.
4. Leave in the fridge for a minimum of 2 hours.
½ inch piece nutmeg/jaifal, ground
3-4 flakes mace/javetri, ground
1 tsp roasted cumin, ground
¼ tsp salt
6 tbsp hung yogurt
2 1/2 tbsp mustard oil
A pinch of dry powder orange colour, optional
1. Heat the mustard oil to smoking point, cool.
2. Beat the hung yogurt.
3. Add the powdered masalas, nutmeg, mace, roasted cumin and salt to the yogurt.
4. Mix in the mustard oil and the powdered colour if using.
5. Apply the second marinate to the chicken pieces and refrigerate for minimum of 24 hours for best results.
Cooking Method ~
1. Heat the oven to 250*C, use the setting to heat both the upper and lower electric rods.
2. Place the chicken pieces on the oven wire rack. This will ensure the chicken pieces are heated from the top and the bottom.
3. Cook the chicken for 20 minutes.
4. Take out the wire rack from the oven and brush the chicken on both sides with cream.
5. Place the wire rack back in the oven and cook for another 10 minutes or until cooked through.
6. Once cooked through, take the wire rack out and sprinkle some roasted cumin powder/jeera and dry mango powder/amchoor on the chicken.
7. Squeeze some lemon juice over the chicken pieces.
8. Serve hot with green coriander and mint chutney, onion rings and roti or naan.