The Recipe - Indian Tandoori Chicken

As Sudha Chalichamu from Hyderabad, India, taught Lindsay Sterling in South Portland, ME, October, 2012

12 raw chicken drumsticks
1/4 tsp turmeric
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp coriander powder
2 pinch powdered red food coloring (Preema, 999, or Shwad brands), available at Indian stores
3 tsp lemon juice
3 1/2 Tbsp plain yogurt*
3 tsp oil
2 Tbsp ginger-garlic paste, available at Indian stores
1 tsp garam masala**
1 1/2 tsp chili powder
3 Tbsp tandoori masala powder, available at Indian stores
spray oil
1 lime
1 yellow onion
Chunky Chat spice blend, available at Indian stores

Mix all spices with yogurt, oil and lemon juice into a paste. Take skins off chicken. Wash meat and pat dry with paper towel so the marinade sticks. Cut deep slits in the meat down to the bone, without cutting chunks of meat entirely off. Massage paste into chicken, stuffing the paste into the slits. Wash hands and any equipment that touched raw chicken. Cover and let marinate covered in fridge for 3 to 12 hours.

Preheat oven to 425. Line two sheet pans with tinfoil, spray each with oil so the chicken doesn't stick. Lay out the chicken with space in between each drum stick. Cook 20 minutes. Flip chicken pieces, spray the tops with oil, and cook another 20 minutes, or until chicken is cooked throughout.

While the chicken is cooking, make sixteen 3"x3" squares of tinfoil, slice lime into halved wedges, and yellow onion into 1/4 inch thick circles.

When chicken is done, wrap the bone-ends of the drumsticks with tinfoil. This makes festive looking handles which make for neat, hand-held appetizer-eating. Guests squeeze the lime over the chicken and have bites of raw onion between bites of chicken. Diners sprinkle Chunky chat spice blend at the table as they wish.

*Home-made yogurt

1/4 cup unsweetened plain yogurt
3 cups whole milk

Bring whole milk to a boil and turn off heat. Let sit until the milk temperature feels hot but not burning on your pinky. Add yogurt. Cover loosely and leave on the counter overnight. In the morning, you will have yogurt! Refrigerate, and eat as you like. Use a little of this yogurt for making the next batch.

The saying about making yogurt goes: milk sleep night, morning tight.

**Sudha's Homemade Garam Masala

1 Tbsp cumin seed
2 Tbsp ground cinnamon
2 Tbsp whole cloves
1/2 tsp salt

Blend in spice grinder or coffee grinder. Store in spice jar for continual use.


Sudha and her Indian friends often buy for each other when one of them goes to an Indian market in Boston or New York. The spices, she says, are freshest there, which makes sense because of the high volume of shoppers. Here are three stores to try. Find the nearest Indian market by state here. Or try ordering ingredients online.

Subzi Mandi
1518 Oak Tree Rd. #B
Iselin, NJ

Masala Mahal
798 Main Street
South Portland, ME

Waltham India Grocery
337 Moody St. 
Waltham, MA

Copyright Lindsay Sterling 2012