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Tandoori Chicken and Bread without a tandoor


There are several things I would like to have. A professional range (and for that matter a professional gas supply), stainless steel counters, really amazing ventilation and Lurcio*. Two of the things I would like are rather similar, but not quite. One is a wood fired oven for bread and pizzas and the other is a Tandoor, because I really, really like very good quality chicken and bread cooked in a tandoor with loads of herbs and spices.

Sadly, I cant see any of this appearing as birthday prezzies in the near future, so I will have to make do. Today, I knocked up some Tandoori-ish chicken and some flat bread – not Naans, but along those lines. Okay, pen and paper at the ready?


The chicken takes a while to marinate so start there. Cut the backbone from the chickens with a sharp knife or shears and divide the rest into four. The reason I am using small chickens here is that if you try and do this with a huge leg or breast, you won't get it cooked through properly without it drying out. Anyway, small chickens are nicer. And each person can have a breast and leg, which seems fair. You can even use pousin if you want.

Skin the pieces and cut down to the bone in the thicker sections. Sprinkle with salt and lemon juice and set aside in the fridge.

In a grinder, grind up the panch puran and the paprika (If you don’t have panch puran use equal quantities of Fennel, Cumin, Nigella seed, mustard seed and fenugreek)

In a blender, puree the onion, garlic, yoghurt and ginger then add the spices. If you want red chicken, you will need to add a little red food colouring – it is what the Indians do, but I am not very keen on colouring.

Pour the puree and the spices over the chicken and mix well. Cover and put in the fridge for several hours.

Now for the bread. This is surprisingly fast if it is a nice warm day, so don't start too early.

Break up the yeast and put in the water. Stir with a fork till it is properly mixed. Put your flour in a bowl and mix with the salt. Make a well in the middle and pour in the yeasted liquid. Add the melted ghee, but not when it is very hot!

Knead for about 10 to 15 minutes or put into your Kenwood chef and turn to speed 1 for 8 minutes 

Leave to rise for about 1/2 hour or so in a nice warm kitchen till it doubles in size. Turn out onto the table top with a little oil and knead for another 4 or 5 minutes. This stretches the gluten making much better bread. Divide it into four and stretch out into rough flatbreads about 1-2 cm thick. It should be thinner in the middle and tear shape if poss.

Heat the oven up to about 220°C

Remove the chicken from the marinate – dont wipe it clean, but let some of the marinade drip off. Too much and it will burn in the oven. Put the pieces in a roasting tray with a little oil. Cover with two layers of foil like a tent. If you have a chicken brick, heat that up and use it. Cook till it looks like it has been in a tandoor and is cooked through, but dont let it dry out. Good oven thermometer is your friend here. It Now the small pieces make sense!

While the chicken is cooking, get a grill really hot. Put the dough pieces on the grill pan, brush with a little melted ghee and cook till done, flipping them over half way through. 

And that should be that.

I cant stress the importance of using small birds. It is not just the size but the skinnyness that helps these to cook beautifully – the same applies if you actually have a tandoor. The bread can be left to rise longer if you like – but I like the rustic charm of the slightly doughy, less risen bread. It is lovely and soft on the inside, while hot and brown on the outside.


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