Saturday, August 20, 2011



There once was a man by the name of Kundan Lal Gujral, a Hindu Punjabi.  He had a restaurant in Peshawar in the early twentieth century.  After India was partitioned in 1947, he fled to escape the rioting and eventually settled in Delhi.  There he developed new recipes, one of which was a chicken he cooked in tandoors, which, up to that time, were only used to cook bread (naan).  Tandoors are clay ovens that are heated with wood or charcoal and can reach extremely high temperatures (900°)!

This spicy chicken became a favorite of the first Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, and it was often served at state dinners where Richard Nixon, John F. Kennedy, Nikita Khruschev and the Shah of Iran were entertained.

Chicken Tikka Masala, a popular dish in Britan and now served in Indian restaurants around the world is a direct descendant of Tandoori Chicken.

Tandoori Chicken is noted for two things.  It should be cooked in a tandoori oven and has a lot of tumeric in it, which gives it the traditional red color.  The following meats are neither prepared in a tandoori or have any tumeric in them.  Thus the "almost" in the names.  (Note:  Tandoori ovens of all descriptions may be purchased on line if you would like to be authentic.)

We recently stumbled on a recipe for a tandoori type chicken and after playing around with it, we came up with the following recipe for Almost Tandoori Chicken.  However, while we were making this I wondered how a similar type of marinade would work with baby back ribs and from that came the Almost Tandoori Ribs.  The chicken is good; the ribs are outstanding!


1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp Rogan Josh Indian seasoning (optional)
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
1/2 tsp salt (optional)
1/4 cup Frank's Original Hot Sauce (Tabasco would work as well, but you might cut down on it a bit depending on your tolerance for hot, hot, hot!)
1 cup plain non-fat yogurt
2 clove garlic, minced
3 Tbsp soy sauce
4 pieces bone-in chicken thighs with skin
Fresh lime slices

Combineall ingredients (except cooking spray and chicken) in a large bowl; stir until well blended.  Divide in equal portions.  

To one of the portions add 1/4 cup heavy cream.  Stir well.  Pour into plastic storage bag.  Add the chicken thighs.  Mix well and place in refrigerator for at least 8 hours or overnight.


To the remaining portion add:

1 inch fresh ginger root, peeled and finely chopped
1/4 tsp ground mustard
Juice of 1/2 lime

Remove membrane from back of ribs; cut into three portions and add the ribs to the marinade.  Store in plastic bag in the refrigerator at least 8 hours or overnight.


Remove RIBS from refrigerator and let sit at room temperature for one hour.  At the end of the hour remove CHICKEN from refrigerator and set oven at 350°.  Place RIBS only on a rack and place in oven.  Brush with the marinade.  Cook for thirty minutes and then turn over and cook for another 30 minutes.  Prepare charcoal grill about 30 minutes in advance.  Coals should be banked for indirect heat.  

Place chicken and ribs on grill; cover.  Turn about every 15 minutes so they don't burn.  Chicken should be cooked for about 15 minutes on a side, then remove to a slightly cooler part of the grill while the ribs continue to cook.  Ribs will take about 30-45 minutes.  (Chicken should have an internal temperature of 165°.)  Serve with lentils and a cucumber salad or a tomato/avocado salad.  Use fresh limes to squeeze juice over chicken.


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