“We all eat, and it would be a sad waste of opportunity to eat badly.”

Anna Thomas

Tandoori is perhaps one of the oldest methods of cooking. Tandoor is a cylindrical shaped, clay or metallic oven, fuelled by coal or wood fire, used frequently in Central and South Asia. Tandoors with a side door have been found even in Harappa and Mohenjodero civilizations of ancient Indus valley.

These tandoors have been used for centuries to bake flatbread, smoke and roast meats and vegetables. Tandoori chicken, the way the world knows it today, is a only a hundred years old recipe, famously created by a Hindu Punjabi chef in Peshawar before the partition of Indian subcontinent.

It has a signature bright orange and red glow from Kashmiri red chillies and turmeric and oodles of flavour from a yogurt and spices based marinade. The perfect tandoori chicken stays moist inside while beautifully charred on the outside. These delicious pieces of tandoor roasted chicken make excellent starter or appetizer and they are added to many creamy curries like butter chicken for the main course.

Cooking in pleasant weather is fun, cooking in cold weather is even cosy and comforting but cooking at the peak of summer season becomes torture even for the most passionate foodaholics, like myself. I especially avoid recipes that require long time standing in the kitchen near the stove. Fresh salads, curries that get done within 15-20 minutes or food that goes inside the oven take over our daily menu.

This easy recipe for oven baked tandoori chicken is my lazy day lunch. I marinate the chicken overnight or in the cooler hours of early morning. An hour before lunch time I simply shove it in the oven. While it cooks, I flip the pages of Home And Garden magazine, watch my favourite tv show, finish some other chores around the house or even doze off for a while till the oven alarm rings.

When it is near done, I make a bowl of quick fresh salad and a jug of lemonade. This easy recipe for oven baked tandoori chicken can be made in any weather. The same marinade can be used to grill chicken on skewers. It is comfort, taste and health together on a plate.

1 +1/2 kg chicken, cut ups
2-3 teaspoons Kashmiri red chilli powder or cayenne peppper or paprika for mild version
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon coriander seeds
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
4-5 green cardamoms
1 stick cinnamon
1 teaspoon black peppercorns
2-3 cloves
Salt to taste
2 tablespoons ginger-garlic paste
1/2 cup lemon juice
1/2 cup yogurt
Salt to taste
1 tablespoon olive oil, ghee or butter

This Is What You Do :
Place chicken in an ungreased rectangular pan in a single layer.

Add all the spices to dry mill and grind to fine powder.

Mix the spices, salt, red chillies, turmeric, ginger-garlic paste, lemon juice and oil with yogurt to make a thick paste.

Poke the chicken pieces with fork or knife all over. Pour the yogurt marinade over chicken. Marinate for at least 30 minutes, for best results several hours or overnight.

Heat oven at 180 degrees C.

Cover the chicken dish with a foil sheet and bake 40 minutes. Keeping chicken covered through most part of baking, keeps it tender and juicy.

After 40 minutes spoon the juices in the pan and sauce all over chicken pieces.

Bake uncovered another 20 minutes or place under the broiler for 5-6 minutes til the chicken gets slightly charred.

If there is still sauce in the pan you can serve it on the side as dipping sauce or pour over your oven baked tandoori chicken. Or you can add some cream to that sauce to make quick n easy butter chicken curry.

Serve with some tangy fresh salad and iced lemonade. Enjoy !

Serves 6

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