Tandoori chicken is baked in a special clay oven at extreme temperatures; it can be served as an appetizing tikka starter or as the hugely popular main course with masala sauce and has become almost symbolic of Asian cuisine.
red food dye,
tomato purée and
Marinade the chicken in a mixture of curry powder, yoghurt and red food dye for as long as you can; then bake the chicken in a preheated oven on the top shelf at 200 for 30 minutes.
This roasted chicken prepared with yoghurt and spices has to be cooked in a cylindrical clay oven called a tandoor for best results and it normally requires a specialist chef to bake it, though the top shelf of any normal oven will suffice.
For the tikka starter serve the baked tandoori chicken in small pieces with sprigs of cilantro, slices of cucumber, red onion, tomato and lemon.
For the main course, heat up a mixture of single cream, tomato purée and tinned tomatoes with as much curry powder as required – there is a time and the place for a hot curry and for a mild curry and I think this one should be medium!
Add the now famously “tandoorified” chicken chunks to the masala sauce and serve with rice when hot.
Tandoori chicken is normally marinated in yoghurt with seasoning like cayenne pepper and red chilli powder to give it that distinctive spicy colour. Turmeric and paprika too, are often added to the chicken that is far from succulent once finished!
Following the upheaval resulting from partition in 1947, people started baking chicken in tandoor ovens which until then were only used to cook naan bread. These clay ovens are bell-shaped and set into the earth where wood or charcoal was used for fuel; the flavour of this meat became so tasty it appeared regularly at official banquets and state occasions, soon developing a world wide reputation.
Tandoori clay ovens were traditionally fired by charcoal or wood, burning within the oven itself and the food would be exposed to the fire and radiance of the live heat. This hot air baked in a convection cooking style that smoked the meat thoroughly as well giving it a distinctively dry texture and delicious flavour.
The extremely high temperatures of the tandoor oven would remain lit for days to keep this heat alive and the tandoor looks like something between an ancient makeshift earth oven and a more modern one, bringing a little history with it, thus the oldest examples of these ancient devices have been found dating back to the Indus Valley Civilizations and the mound site of Balakot, Pakistan.