Tandoori Murgh (Chicken Baked in Yogurt Sauce)

By Cherry Bombe
July 15, 2013
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Author Notes: This recipe is by Jeanne D'Souza, a wonderful woman who helped her town in Connecticut embrace international food, one ingredient at a time. Her daughter Nan wrote a lovely essay about her for the first issue of Cherry Bombe. This chicken dish requires advance planning, but it's well worth the effort. Kerry thinks it is one of the best chicken dishes she's ever had.Cherry Bombe

Serves: 8

  • 1 teaspoon saffron threads
  • 3 tablespoons heated milk
  • 8 to 10 pieces of chicken (thighs and drumsticks)
  • 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons coriander seeds
  • 1-inch pieces fresh ginger root, scrapped and coarsely chopped
  • 1 cup whole milk yogurt (D’Sousa uses the Stonyfield brand)
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 2 tablespoons ghee (clarified butter) or canola oil
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 4 teaspoons salt
  • 2 cloves of garlic, coarsely chopped
  1. Drop the saffron threads into a small bowl, pour in the heated milk and soak for five minutes.
  2. Pat the chicken pieces dry with paper towels. With a small, sharp knife, cut two slits about 1/2–inch deep and 1-inch long in the thighs and drumsticks. Mix the lemon juice with the salt in a bowl and rub the mixture over the chicken, pressing it deeply into the slits.
  3. Place the chicken in a large, deep casserole and pour the saffron and its soaking liquid over them. Let marinate at room temperature for 30 minutes.
  4. Sprinkle the coriander seeds into a small ungreased skillet and shaking the pan constantly, toast them over low heat for a minute or so. Remove from the pan. Repeat with the cumin seeds. Drop the toasted seeds into a blender, add the ginger, garlic and two tablespoons of the yogurt and blend at high speed until the mixture is reduced to a smooth paste. With a rubber spatula, scrape the paste into a mixing bowl. Stir in all of the remaining yogurt and the cayenne.
  5. Spread the yogurt mixture evenly over the chicken pieces, cover the casserole with foil and marinate for at least 24 hours in the refrigerator.
  6. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Arrange the chickens in a shallow roasting pan. Pour any liquid that has accumulated in the casserole over the chicken and coat each piece with the ghee or oil. Roast uncovered for 15 minutes, then reduce the heat to 350 degrees, cover and cook one more hour or until done.

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