I am a Kannadiga Brahmin. if you don’t know what that means, that’s OK, I didn’t really understand what that meant until I was about twenty either. It simply means that my brother and I were brought up as a vegetarians, like my parents were and their parents were. However, as we grew up and as our worlds started expanding, we started experimenting with food. Having meat (chicken) for the first time was such an enthralling experience. My brother took the leap into ‘converting’ to a full time meat eater years before I did. He was still in school while I took the plunge halfway through my college years, and that opened up a whole new world of food to me. Little did I know that this would pave the way for a better connection with the man I was to marry one day.
Cooking meat, or even getting meat is not allowed my in parents house for reasons other than just religion. So, when I moved to London, (that was the first time I was living on my own) and had a kitchen of my own, I was so excited to start cooking meat. After about a month of moving, I mustered courage to finally go and buy some chicken from the supermarket, but when I went there I was aghast with the array of items available.. chicken thigh, chicken breast, rough cut, whole chicken…, …, I was so overwhelmed! I did not know which part of the chicken to buy and I quietly went to the vegetable section – the section that was so much more familiar to me.
About a month after that I decided that I would try again. I went with my friend and bought a packet of chicken breast. I still didn’t know how to cook it, of course, so I had to call a third friend to help me out. The first ever chicken I cooked was a buttered chicken something. I took a bit of butter, put it in the pan, and put the pieces of chicken in it. I was so astounded when I saw the chicken change colour from a translucent glossy pink to an opaque white. I wondered whether that was the right way to go, but whatever that was, tasted great! (I’m sure it was so because it was laden with butter!) Since then, there has been no looking back.
Fast forward to about two years later. I’m married into a Bengali family who absolutely love their meat. Thanks to them I was introduced to this whole new world of Bengali cuisine which I didn’t realize was so expansive and absolutely divine! My mother in law is my mentor to cooking meat and she’s the one who taught me how to make Tandoori Chicken. Yes, it’s not a Bengali dish, but this form of chicken helped me earn those few extra brownie points with the family, especially my husband. She’s the one who helped me find the way to my husband’s heart – through Tandoori Chicken.
This is my mother-in-law’s recipe to the most fabulous ‘Red-Chicken’ as it is fondly called at home. Whenever we visit, it is the standard menu for the first dinner we have together. It is extremely healthy and packed with flavour.
What you will need
– Chicken cut into big pieces
– Curd (200g for 1 Chicken)
– Ginger Garlic Paste 1.5 tsp each (It is always better if it is fresh. I, however take shortcuts and use the packaged one. I guess that’s why my mum-in-laws chicken is always better than mine)
– Tandoori Chicken Masala 1.5 tbsp (I use Everest)
– Ajwin 0.5 tsp
– Kasoori Methi 1 tbsp
– Oil 2 tbsp
– Lemon jiuce of 2 lemons
– Salt to taste
– Red Chili Powder
– Food Colour (I use Bush’s Orange Sunset. It gives the best colour)
How You Make It
Marinade all the ingredients together and leave it as long as you possibly can. I always make it a day ahead. An hour before you want to have it, grill it in the over at a moderate temperature so that it cooks all the way through. Keep an eye on it as you don’t want to cook it uneven. Keep rotating the pieces as and when required.
Its always better to cover the drip tray with foil and fill it up with water so that the moisture is retained.
When you’re ready to have it, sprinkle some Chaat Masala and fresh lemon juice.
With this recipe, you will not want to go outside and have Tandoori Chicken again!