Thursday, September 22, 2011

Tandoori Chicken Drumsticks

Tandoori: tan·door·i  (ADJECTIVE) 
cooked in clay oven: baked or cooked in a tandoor, usually after being marinated in a mixture of yogurt and spices.

*Even before writing down this post, let me put a disclaimer to the word "Tandoori" in the title. No part of this recipe will ever need a Tandoor Stove or a Clay Oven.* 

I remember going to this simple Indian restaurant in Atlanta for Sunday lunches with my family. They used to have this awesome, melt in the mouth Tandoori Chicken. The Chicken pieces were well marinated and cooked to tender perfection. The spices were mild making them a crowd favorite of both Americans, Indians or anyone who loved the sumptuous fare they served up in their buffets. The only thing that bothered me a little was the fact that they, like most restaurants, used the food color on their chicken pretty liberally. My two year old son's attachment to those chicken drumsticks, drove me a little crazy with guilt.
Around the same time, we discovered the benefits of the membership of a wholesale club and bulk buying. That was when I came across fresh chicken drumsticks packed in bulk, and such great quality! I bought it on an impulse and after divvying it up in sealable bags, and stuffing it in freezer, I googled up a few tandoori recipes. A few tries with various spice mixes and none were memorable. Some recipes would make the chicken dry, others would ask you to fry the drumsticks. And I didnt want to fry anything! All I wanted was something that would at least taste close to Tandoori chicken. Fortunately by then I had experimented enough to figure out how to cook chicken until it was near-Tandoor-perfect.
And  after a few trial and error days,I got it the way I liked it. Its easy enough for anyone to make it, and yes, if you like your chicken, a well tanned reddish-orange, go ahead and add a few drops. Though I started making this dish to escape the food coloring, I have learnt that a little color goes a long way, since my spice mix actually gives the drumsticks a little bit of color on its own. And yes, it does give the otherwise, pale, white chicken a deep, brownish, well-done appearance.
So cook it up, serve it as an appetizer, or as a main course, with a salad on the side or with rotis and dal. and do let me know! ;-)

8 chicken drumsticks (skin removed)
1 tbsp paprika/ kashmiri mirch powder
1 tbsp chili/cayenne powder
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp garlic powder or 1 tbsp garlic paste
1 tbsp ginger paste
Juice of 1 whole lemon
1 tsp roast cumin powder
2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp fresh ground pepper
1 tbsp yogurt
3 tbsp canola oil
Lemon, Onions and Cilantro for Garnish

Wash and clean the drumsticks and pat them dry. make two diagonal slits one inch apart on the thickest part of the meaty part, to the bone. Repeat on all the drumsticks.
Mix all the other ingredients and pour into a gallon size seal-able plastic bag. Check salt and seasonings and add more to your taste, if needed.
Put the drumsticks into the bag and carefully remove any trapped air and then make sure all the drumsticks are coated. If you can work it, massage the drumsticks from the outside and make sure you force a little bit in through the slits on the drumstick.
Now put them back in the refrigerator and let them marinate overnight or if you are in a hurry, for 4 hrs.
Preheat oven to 400 degree Fahrenheit.
Line a shallow baking pan with heavy duty aluminum foil. believe me, this makes the cleanup, one crumple y ball away.
Remove the drumsticks from the Ziploc bag and discard the excess marinade.
Now arrange the drumsticks on the foil and place in the top rack of oven for 25 minutes. After 25 minutes, carefully turn them over. Drain, the pan if necessary.
Bake for another 25 minutes, then reduce the heat to 350. Now check every 10 mins until a meat thermometer shows 160  at the thickest part or you could cut into the meat, to see if the insides are white. Pink means NOT DONE.
As much as I'd like to be accurate, chicken drumsticks are not uniform. Some have fleshier, while some are lean. Some has more water content, some get done in half an hour. So its all up to you to keep an eye on the thing and go with your feel free to take it out if you can smell its done-ness long before the specified time, or increase the temp if you feel the chicken is still deathly pale after 45 minutes in the oven.

So after its done, it should look kind of brown, crisp and the slits, gaping. The interior should be white and cooked. Let it rest for 5-7 minutes, in the pan, outside the oven and then move into a serving dish, garnish it with onion rings, cilantro, lemon slices etc. Enjoy!

No comments:

Post a Comment