Tandoori Chicken: Friendly Indian Food

Dec 15, 2011 12:31 pm

Yogurt and spice-marinated chicken is a good start

tandoori chicken
Photo: thebittenword.com on Flickr
Tandoori chicken is your key to craving Indian food on a regular basis, like a normal person.
 
tandoori chicken Pringles
Photo: jetalone on Flickr
See how popular tandoori chicken is? See? Pringles. Game, set, match.
 

Ugh, another post about Indian food. Give it a rest, Jess.

I will not! I've just decided to work my way back to the basics. I know you. You don't like Indian food. You crack sophisticated jokes like "well by the look it of, someone's already eaten this here curry." The mere thought of spicy food makes you break into a sweat, and you don't know what lentils are. (They're like beans, don't overcrowd your brain).

Except there's this special lady you just started seeing. She likes crazy stuff like bim-bam-boom (actually, it's bibimbap) and "boat noodles," which apparently have something to do with blood. And she doesn't want to "hit that Italian spot where Frankie's a busboy and can get us extra garlic bread." Not that extra garlic bread doesn't rock — it does — but you have a decision to make. Are you going to lose this chick to the nerd who eats falafel and makes his own pickles? If you don't get your act together, or at least your palate...maybe, yeah. So it's high time you and tandoori chicken got acquainted.        

A tandoor is a pretty awesome thing, perfect for making some of the tastiest chicken around. It's a cylindrical clay oven that gets SUPER hot, sealing in tons of moisture and resulting in tender, juicy bird. Know what else makes it moist and flavorful? An overnight soak in yogurt. Yes, yogurt. Not the sugary raspberry stuff under the foil top, but actual fermented milk seasoned with India's signature spice blend, garam masala. This acidic environment tenderizes the meat and allows the chicken's flavors to develop even before it's cooked.

Now I know what you're thinking. This chicken is pink. First off, it's more of a deep carmine. And second, there are two perfectly tasty reasons for this. In the spicy version of tandoori chicken, the combination of cayenne pepper and annatto seed turn that which is white a pleasant yet sweat-inducing Nantucket red. In the mild version, food coloring mixed with turmeric powder gives the chicken an aesthetically pleasing rosy hue. Either way, it's pretty and needs no justification.    

So before you get dumped for some jerk who grows his own basil for his "signature homemade pesto," familiarize yourself with an order or two of tandoori chicken for lunch (it goes great over basmati rice with a squeeze of lime or wrapped in hot, chewy naan, kati roll-style). Then invite your new-age hippie chick to Taj Garden for some (say it just like this:) "Vindaloo or korma or tandoori chicken or whatever. I just like to stimulate my tongue. Keeps it in shape." Worst-case scenario, you'll get addicted to Indian food and perish of an over-dosa.

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