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Dinner with Sana: Tandoori Chicken Curry

BySana Sehr Rasool

Mar 24, 2015

Want to stimulate your taste buds? Spice up your day with Sana’s take on the popular South Asian dish…

Tandoori chicken is a popular South Asian dish. The name originates from ‘tandoor’, the word for the cylindrical clay oven in which the chicken is traditionally roasted at high temperatures with yoghurt and spices. The specific spices used vary from one region to another, but they are usually thought to include garlic, ginger, cumin, black pepper, red chilli etc., which are all ground together to make the tandoori ‘masala’; a word literally meaning spice mix.

As you are unlikely to have a spare tandoor lying around my recipe is for tandoori chicken curry, which can be prepared using a large pot and regular stovetop oven. If you’re after some of that authentic smoky flavour the best way to go is either to break out the barbeque or alternatively you can roast the chicken on a greased baking tray for 45 minutes at 190 C (slightly lower for fan assisted ovens) and then grill until golden.

You can make the tandoori masala in bulk and store it in an airtight container in order to save preparation time. You only need 2 or 3 tablespoons for the portion sizes used below depending on how flavourful you like your curry.

Tandoori Masala Ingredients 

  • 1 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1 tsp. red chilli powder
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • ½ tsp. grated nutmeg
  • 1 tsp. mace powder
  • 1½ tbsp. cumin powder
  • 2 tbsp. ground coriander
  • 1 tsp. fenugreek powder
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp. ground brown cardamom seeds
  • 2 tsp. red food colouring

Other Ingredients

  • 500g cubed chicken breast
  •  1 tin chopped tomatoes
  • 2/3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 large onion
  • 2 tbsp. garlic paste
  • 1 tsp. ginger paste
  • ½ pot natural yoghurt
  • Splash of lemon juice
  • 1½ cup basmati rice

Marinate the chicken in half the garlic and ginger paste, yoghurt, lemon juice and a tablespoon of the tandoori masala overnight in the fridge or for an hour if you want to leave it out. The yoghurt tenderises the meat beautifully.

Roast the remaining garlic and ginger paste in the oil on a low heat until it starts to turn golden brown before adding in the marinated chicken.

Cook on a high flame till the sauce is almost entirely reduced and chicken is roasting.

Simultaneously finely chop up and fry the onion until golden brown before adding it to the mixture along with the chopped tomatoes.

Keep cooking on a medium flame, adding water if necessary to keep the curry fluid until all the separate ingredients start to meld together.

The tanginess from the yoghurt marinade is the perfect accompaniment to the spiciness of the tandoori masala and offsets it just enough to ensure this dish is not too spicy for western taste buds. Tandoori chicken popularity has led to many derivatives; such as the well-known chicken tikka masala which graces almost every Indian takeaway menu in Britain.

I love an Indian takeaway as much as the next person, but it’s simply much easier on the wallet to make a couple of servings of this at home and store in the fridge. Some of the ingredients may not be as readily available or nearly as cheap at Tesco or Sainsbury’s so I would recommend browsing Maqbools supermarket; located within a stone’s throw of the University George Square campus (if you’re feeling particularly lazy there is also ready made Tandoori masala available here).

 Photo: Sana Rasool

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