Most people think that Tandoori is a specific spice rub put on the meat and cooked, but it is more of a cooking method, in a clay Tandoor oven that can hit temperatures over 500F. Seeing as I have had my Big Green Egg over 1100F (not very often though), it would seem like the perfect device to replicate an authentic Tandoor Oven.
Now most Tandoori meats are marinated in a spice rub that is often mixed in plain yogurt. Why yogurt you ask? Well it has a natural acidity to it that helps to break down the protein in the meat and when cooked at a very high temperature (north of 500F) it holds to the meat and helps to keep it from drying out.
I started out by making my Tandoori marinade as it was taught to me by a buddy of mine who was from India. He said (for sake of ease) to just pick up a tandoori spice rub instead of trying to make one. The one he recommended to me I found at a local Indian supermarket. Most big chain stores will start to carry these spices though now too.
You will need:
- 400ml of 3.5% or higher yogurt
- 6 tbsp of tandoori spice rub
- 3 tbsp of avocado oil
- 4 cloves of garlic roughly minced
- juice of 1 lemon
- About a 12-15 bone in chicken thighs with the skin removed
He said I should use 2 cloves of garlic… I like garlic so I did 4, roughly chopped… along with about 400ml of plain 3.5% yogurt (that is more of a guestimate of what I actually used than a measurement).
My suggestion on the yogurt is that brand doesn’t matter as long as you can pronounce the ingredients list and as long as you get at LEAST 3%. You need a little of that milk fat to help keep the meat moist. Don’t bother with that 0% stuff, there is more gelatin and starch and filler in it and it won’t work.
Next I added about 6 tablespoons of the tandoori rub and then the juice of 1 lemon and about 3 tablespoons of Avocado Oil. You can use Ghee which is clarified butter, or you can use any other neutral tasting oil, but I LOVE avocado oil because it has a high smoke point (which is good when you are cooking at +500F) and it is full of all those good fats like Omega 3 & 6.
So stir all of those together and you should have a bright orange looking goo… that is a good thing 🙂
When I make Tandoori Chicken I like to use dark meat because it won’t dry out as much as white will, which makes it more forgiving at high temperatures. I bought bone in, skin on thighs and removed the skins (well Jackie did this time specifically).
Then I take a fork and stab each thigh half a dozen times in different places. The idea here is that the marinade will penetrate into the meat more. You can see the fork stab marks in the picture here:
After you have stabbed your chicken, then pour the marinade over it, into a big freezer bag and smush it around until everything is good and coated. Put this in the fridge ideally overnight but for at least 8 hours. I have done 8 hours, I have done 48 hours and I find 24 hours is a nice sweet spot. Remember to flip it over a couple times while it marinates.
When I was ready to cook I pre-heated Large Egg to about 550-600F and it was set up for an indirect cook, using the plate setter and my raised grid to get the chicken away from the direct heat.
It took about 30-35 minutes and I pulled it off when my Thermapen said it was over 175F (although some were a little hotter). The chicken turned out super moist and juicy… even better than many Indian restaurants!!!
Finally when I took everything off, I plated it up with some fresh chopped cilantro and dinner was served.
Seeing as we are having windchills of -50C, I was not outside to cook for very long. Often I make a killer East Indian Korma on the Big Green Egg and I think Jackie has posted previously about making home made Naan Bread. It was so cold, we skipped the Naan tonight and I made the Korma indoors… will save that for another blog post but it is one of my favorite dishes!
Once again you can see how super versatile the Big Green Egg is… why not try it as a Tandoor Oven and see what amazing dishes you can come up with!