Best 8 Tips To Cook Tender And Juicy Tandoori Chicken
Image Credit: Tandoori chicken, Freepik

It was last Sunday when I was enthusiastic about flaunting my culinary skills. Having a Punjabi kudi (girl) as my best buddy, I was confident of acing her native cuisine. After all, we have spent enough number of years together and an equally good amount of hours in the kitchen to make our regional specialities. So, I chose to prepare one of her best dishes, i.e., tandoori chicken. Whenever we had girls' house parties, I remember it occupying the centre stage of our dinner spread. Despite not having a typical tandoor, she magically replicated the same taste of many leading restaurants known for this iconic culinary fare. I had her recipe for tandoori chicken and a microwave in my arsenal. But alas! My rendition turned out to be an utter flop. It was burnt, chewy and extremely dry. Upon asking what caused this disaster, I realised there are rules and tips to follow to make the perfect tandoori chicken recipe. 

Whether you are a relatively pro cook, or a newbie, own a tandoor or not, there are always solutions to get the juicy and evenly cooked tandoori chicken. Apart from having the recipe from a seasoned chef of Punjabi cuisine, the following 8 tips can come in handy. 

The trick is in the marinade

Tender tandoori chicken is the result of a lengthy marinating process. This is the secret to delicious tandoori chicken. The marinade in this dish is made using yoghurt. The use of Indian spices, ginger, and garlic contributes to its earthy flavour. For best results, marinate the chicken in a mixture of yoghurt and spices for at least two hours before cooking. The longer you allow the chicken to marinade, the more tender and aromatic it becomes. 

Marinating chicken, Image Source:

Size and parts of the chicken 

Chicken tandoori, in contrast to chicken tikka, may have bones. Yet, a select few restaurants use whole chicken in this manner. Pieces for the legs and breasts are the most sought-after. Homemade tandoori chicken is at its best when prepared with the right chicken parts. Using boneless, skinless chicken breast is the healthiest option. For uniform cooking, use chicken pieces of the same size.

Tandoori cooking

The traditional method of cooking tandoori chicken involves using a cylindrical tandoor or oven. The name comes from this fact. There are both permanent tandoor and portable tandoor options for household use. It is recommended that you use it to prepare this meal. Grilling the chicken is another viable option. This is essential for achieving the unique smokey flavour of tandoori chicken.

Tandoori chicken in the microwave

You can also cook tandoori chicken in a microwave oven in addition to the tawa and tandoor. However, a major complaint is that the chicken becomes hard and dry. Remember that the convection setting on the microwave helps retain more of the chicken's natural fluids than grilling does while cooking tandoori chicken.

Tandoori chicken in a pan

Don't worry if you don't have a conventional oven, microwave, or tandoor. A tawa, pan, or kadhai may all be used to prepare delicious tandoori chicken. The secret is to slowly roast the meat in a tawa or a heavy-bottomed pan. Keep the heat in by covering the pan or skillet. Nonetheless, the chicken must always be supervised. Refrain from cramming too many chicken pieces into the skillet.

Basting chicken pieces, Image Source:

Baste with butter

Whether oven-cooked or grilled, tandoori chicken benefits from being basted with butter throughout cooking to maintain its moisture. It's common practice to baste the chicken with butter or oil as it cooks, even in restaurants and dhabas, so that the meat stays juicy and soft.

Using charcoal for a smokey flavour

When the tandoor chicken is cooked in a conventional tandoor, it naturally gets a smokey flavour. But, if cooking in tawa, this might not be the case. There is a trick to it. Just when the chicken pieces are evenly cooked, and you are about to turn off the stove, burn a small coal piece, keep it in a steel bowl, and pour ghee. Place it in the pan and cover it with a lid. Let it sit for a minimum of 15 minutes. Ensure the fume doesn't escape.

Don't overcook

Often burnt and dry tandoori chicken is a result of over-roasting. It spoils the meat and drains all its natural tenderness and juices. Keep a watch, and flip once in a while to cook evenly.