Tandoori-Style Grilled Chicken Tikka Masala

Tandoori-style Chicken Tikka Masala is one of the most popular dishes in the world. With a history of British-Indian origins, this charred-chicken dish is typically marinated in a bath of spiced yogurt and lemon juice. It is then seasoned, skewered on long metal rods and roasted inside the raging infernos of handmade clay ovens. The chicken is finished in a gorgeous tomato-based sauce, then plated over buttery yellow jasmine rice and an herb chutney.

“Tandoori” describes the cooking method – for hundreds of years large tandoor ovens made of clay have been used by home cooks and chefs alike, across central, southern and western Asia, as well as in the Caucasus. These homemade ovens are fueled by charcoal and wood, and most often employed when the recipe calls for an intensive application of heat, as temperatures in the tandoor rise far above 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit.

“Masala” component describes the sauce – a dynamically flavourful and spicy sauce, comprised of assorted fresh and dried peppers, ginger and naturally sweet ingredients ranging from roasted garden tomatoes to dried coconut, cardamom, cinnamon and cream.

To mimic the temperatures generated within traditional Indian tandoor ovens, this recipe uses the Char-Broil® Kamander™ Charcoal Grill. With double-steel wall construction, air-tight lid locking system, and ability to maintain steady temperatures above 700F, this grill is perfect for homemade Tandoori-style Grilled Chicken Tikka Masala.

Ingredients

For the chicken

4-6 chicken quarters, trimmed and cleaned
olive oil
4-6 cloves garlic, minced
kosher salt to taste
fresh ground pepper to taste
1 large jar Tikka Masala sauce, store bought
Indian Yellow Rice
Mint-Cilantro Chutney
1 serrano pepper, finely sliced for garnish
2 key limes, thinly sliced for garnish

For the Indian Yellow Rice

1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon garlic, minced
1 teaspoon turmeric
½ teaspoon cumin
5-6 cardamom pods
2 pinches cinnamon
1 stalk lemon grass, chopped
2 cups jasmine rice
1 bay leaf
4 cups chicken stock

For the Mint-Cilantro Chutney

1½ cups fresh mint, loosely packed
1½ cups fresh cilantro, loosely packed
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1 small green chilli, seeds removed and chopped
3 tablespoons dried, shredded coconut
4 tablespoons lime juice
kosher salt to taste
fresh ground pepper to taste

Preparation

  1. 30 minutes prior to grilling, fill the chimney starter with charcoal and ignite. When the coals are glowing red, dump coals onto the grill floor. Pile ¾ of the coals high on one side, creating a direct heat zone. Slant the remaining coals to the other side creating a cooler, indirect heat zone. Place cherry wood chunks over the smoldering coals. Close the grill lid, open the air damper ½ way, and wait 15 minutes until the wood is smoking.
  2. Make the Indian Yellow Rice. Add all ingredients except rice, bay leaf and stock. Over medium-high heat simmer for 2-3 minutes. Add rice to sauté for additional 2 minutes. Slowly pour in stock and add bay leaf. Cover and simmer for 20-30 minutes or until all liquid absorbed.
    HOT TIP – If purchasing the Indian Yellow Rice, follow cooking instructions.
  3. Prepare the chicken by drizzling with olive oil and liberally seasoning with salt, pepper and minced garlic.
  4. Gently place the chicken quarters atop the direct heat grilling zone and sear with the grill lid open for 4-5 minutes per side. Then transfer to the cooler, indirect heat zone. Close the grill lid and dial down the air damper to restrict air flow. Open the lid only long enough to intermittently baste one layer of Tikka Masala sauce after another over the chicken, removing when juices run clear and internal temperature reaches 165 degrees Fahrenheit in thickest part of the thigh.
  5. While the chicken cooks, remember to check on your rice. Remove the rice from the heat when ready and let rest for 10 minutes covered. Remove lemongrass, cardamom pods and bay leaf. Fluff with a fork. Set aside.
  6. Once the chicken is finished, rest for 5-10 minutes.
  7. While your chicken rests, make the Mint-Cilantro Chutney. Simply place all ingredients in a food processor. Pulse, then blend on medium-high for 30-60 seconds. To thin add water. Set aside.
    HOT TIP – If purchasing Mint-Cilantro Chutney, skip this step.
  8. Plate your chicken a bed of Indian Yellow Rice and Mint-Cilantro Chutney. Garnish with fresh herbs, serrano pepper slices, shallot and spring onion. Season additionally with salt and fresh ground peppercorn, then finish with a squeeze of lime.
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