India is truly the land of spectacular mouthwatering kebabs (meats roasted on a skewer or pounded fried meat). The art of Mughal-style kebab making was developed in the kitchens of the caliphs of Baghdad and perfected in Lucknow and Hyderabad, where kebab-makers mastered hundreds of variations of chicken, lamb, seafood, vegetables, cheese, and legume kebabs.
The king of kebab, or tandoori-style chicken kebab, is a very tasty way to prepare chicken. The traditional clay oven, or tandoor, fired by charcoal is used for making this dish and is unmatched for flavor and aroma. The secret of tandoori cooking is twofold: firstly in marinating the meat in yogurt and spices, considered a meat tenderizer, and secondly in basting the chicken with butter or oil, which seals in the juices to make it succulent.
Barbecue Tandoori-Style Chicken Kebab (Tandoori Murgh)
2 pounds boneless chicken pieces
½ teaspoon chili powder
4 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
Salt to taste
½ cup plain yogurt
1½ tablespoons ginger paste
1½ tablespoons garlic paste
1 teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon ground turmeric
¼ teaspoon ground peppercorns
¼ teaspoon ground cardamom
¼ teaspoon ground mace
½ cup melted butter for basting
Remove the skin and fat from the chicken. Wash and drain the chicken. Cut the chicken into 2-inch pieces. Make deep incisions in the chicken and then set aside in a pan.
In a small bowl, mix together chili powder, lemon juice, and salt.
Combine the lemon mixture with the chicken and marinate for 15 minutes. In a small bowl, whisk the yogurt with a fork.
Mix the ginger and garlic pastes, cumin, turmeric, pepper, cardamom, and mace with the yogurt.
Combine the yogurt mixture with the chicken; cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
Preheat the oven to 350ºF or prepare the barbecue grill.
Oil a deep baking pan.
Skewer the chicken pieces on 9- or 10-inch steel skewers at least an inch apart. Set on the baking pan and brush with the marinade. Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 8-10 minutes.
Remove the foil, baste with melted butter, and turn the skewers over. Bake for 8-10 minutes until evenly brown and tender.
Baste with melted butter and skewer on toothpicks. Serve hot with naan and mint chutney.
Check out my cookbooks Feast of India: A Legacy of Recipes and Fables (1991, 2015) and India’s Unsurpassed Cuisine: The Art of Indian Curry Cooking (Editor’s Choice, 2016) at www.feastofindia.net.