I miss Indian food. I especially miss it in the fall, when the turmeric-colored leaves on the trees immediately make me crave warm spices like garam masala and cardamom. The Kenai Peninsula is desperately lacking in the area of Indian cuisine, and while I'm admittedly no expert, I do my best to attempt to make it at home. Curries are my usual go-to, like the chickpea and mango curry with homemade flatbread in my cookbook. But other dishes, like tandoori chicken, have always evaded me, since I don't have a tandoor oven — a clay or metal oven heated over a charcoal or wood fire used to cook at high heat.
Tandoori chicken is marinated in yogurt that is heavily seasoned with toasted spices, fresh ginger, garlic, salt and citrus. The chicken sits in the marinade for several hours, tenderizing the meat and mingling the flavors. The yogurt also helps the marinade to adhere securely to the chicken during roasting, creating a flavorful, crispy exterior and juicy interior. When I came across a method for baking tandoori style chicken drumsticks in a standard oven, I had to give it a try. Although not traditional, it turned out beautifully. I served it with barley couscous, fresh cilantro and mint, and a quick peanut sauce. You could also serve it with a nice mango chutney, if you prefer.
Baked Tandoori Style Chicken Drumsticks
10-12 chicken drumsticks
For the marinade:
1 tablespoon paprika
1 tablespoon garam masala
2 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
2 teaspoons cumin
2 teaspoons coriander
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
1/4 cup full fat plain yogurt
3 tablespoons ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
6 garlic cloves, peeled and roughly chopped
1 lime, zested and juiced
1/4 cup vegetable oil
cilantro and/or fresh mint, chopped
peanut dipping sauce or mango chutney
Using a sharp chef's knife, make two slashes across the thickest part of the drumstick. Turn the drumstick over and make 2 more slashes on the other side. Repeat with all of the drumsticks. This allows the marinade to penetrate the meat. Place the drumsticks in a resealable plastic bag.
To make the marinade:
To a small frying pan over medium heat, add the paprika, garam masala, salt, cumin, coriander, turmeric, and cayenne (if using). Toast the spices until fragrant, stirring often, about 2 minutes. Remove from the heat.
To the bowl of a food processor, add the toasted spices, yogurt, ginger, garlic, lime zest and juice, and oil. Process until smooth and combined. Pour the marinade over the chicken. Seal the bag and massage the marinade into the chicken until it is all fully coated. Refrigerate for at least 3 hours.
Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Line a large, rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil. Place a metal baking rack securely onto the baking sheet. Spray the rack with non-stick cooking spray. Place the drumsticks onto the rack in rows, allowing space between each drumstick. Bake for 40 minutes, turning once halfway through cooking, until browned and crisp and chicken is cooked though. Turn the broiler to high. Broil the chicken 5-6 more minutes, until charred and crisp.
Serve the drumsticks with fresh cilantro and mint, lime wedges, and peanut sauce or mango chutney. (Recipe adapted from Once Upon a Chef.)