Tandoori chicken is an Indian staple known for its bright red hue and char from the tandoor oven that typically heats to around 900 degrees. While Jessi Singh of New York City's Babu Ji omits the red chile powder that gives it its signature color, he marinates chicken thighs in a rich blend of yogurt, ginger, garlic and spices before throwing them in that hot, hot oven. Realizing that most people don't have the luxury of a tandoor at home, we've adapted the recipe to work under the broiler.
Give yourself enough time to let the chicken marinate, because the.yogurt and lemon juice tenderize the meat and impart a nice tangy flavor. We recommend marinating for at least four hours, but if you are strapped for time, one hour at room temperature will do the trick. The orange dressing adds brightness to the dish but can be made the day before to let the flavors blend and cut down on time the next day.
To learn more, read "Snap Chaat."
Recipe adapted from Jessi Singh, Babu Ji, New York, NY
Yield: 4 servings
Prep Time: 30 minutes, plus marinating time
Cook Time: 1 hour and 10 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour and 40 minutes, plus marinating time
For the Chicken:
¼ cup (6 to 8 cloves) roughly chopped garlic
¼ cup (one 3-inch piece) roughly chopped ginger
2 teaspoons canola oil
½ cup whole-fat Greek yogurt
¼ cup lemon juice
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon garam masala
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
½ teaspoon dried fenugreek leaf (kasoori methi), optional
2 pounds (about 4) boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into 4-inch pieces
1 cup mesclun greens, for garnish
For the Orange Dressing:
4 cups orange juice
2 tablespoons fresh thyme
½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
For the Mint Chutney:
1 cup packed cilantro leaves
1 cup packed mint leaves
4 (½ cup) scallions, green parts only, roughly chopped
½ jalapeño—stemmed, seeded and roughly chopped
2 teaspoons sugar
¼ cup water
Kosher salt, to taste
For the Mango Garnish:
½ ripe mango, peeled and roughly chopped
½ tomato, finely chopped
½ English cucumber, finely chopped
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Kosher salt, to taste
1. Marinate the chicken: Combine the chopped garlic and ginger in a food processor and pulse until almost smooth. In a small skillet, heat the canola oil over medium heat. Cook the garlic and ginger paste, stirring constantly, until fragrant and softened, 3 to 5 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl, along with the yogurt, lemon juice, salt, garam masala, coriander, cumin, turmeric, cardamom and fenugreek leaf, if using. Add the chicken and, using your hands, massage the marinade into the meat, completely covering all of the pieces. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours and up to overnight.
2. Make the orange dressing: In a medium saucepan, reduce the orange juice over medium heat to ½ cup, 50 to 55 minutes, adding the thyme after 40 minutes of cooking. Strain the reduced orange juice into a small bowl and whisk in the olive oil and salt. Makes 1 cup and can be made up to 1 day in advance. Cover and store in the fridge, making sure to bring to room temperature 30 minutes before serving.
3. Make the mint chutney: In a blender, add the cilantro, mint, green scallions, jalapeño and lime juice. Process on medium-high speed until smooth. Transfer to a small bowl and adjust the seasoning to taste with salt. Makes ¾ cup.
4. Make the mango garnish: In a large bowl, stir together the mango, tomato, cucumber and lemon juice. Season to taste with salt, stirring every so often until served.
5. Preheat the oven to broil with the rack about 5 to 6 inches from the heat source. Transfer the chicken to a foil-lined baking sheet. Discard the leftover marinade. Broil until the chicken is cooked through with a few charred spots, 8 to 10 minutes.
6. To serve: Place the mixed greens on a large platter and top with the chicken. Drizzle ½ cup of the orange-olive oil dressing on top, serving more on the side. Spoon the mango mixture over top and serve with the mint chutney.