Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Broiled Tandoori-Spiced Chicken Thighs

This dish might be more accurately called "spices we happened to have around one day" chicken. We usually don't keep curry powder or Garam Masala on hand, so we mixed together our own vaguely Indian spice blend for this smoky, spicy chicken dish that will definitely remind you of tandoori chicken. Feel free to adjust the spices somewhat, but be sure to use lots of cumin, which is the central flavor.

We don't have a grill, but we can pretend we do when we get meat so nicely charred and tender by using the broiler. Just be sure to use a broiler pan, which will allow fat to drain without smoking up your apartment (and maybe crack a window anyway and/or throw a damp towel over your smoke detector just to be safe).

Broiled Tandoori-Spiced Chicken Thighs

Cooking Time
1 hour, 15 minutes


4 tandoori oven-less, grill-less Brooklynites

Chef's knife and cutting board
8 bamboo skewers
Broiler pan
Mixing bowl

1/2 cup + 1/2 teaspoon Diamond Crystal kosher salt*
12 boneless, skinless chicken thighs, excess fat removed
1 (7 oz.) package Greek yogurt (we used 2%, but whole or skim is fine), excess liquid poured off
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon cayenne
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon dried marjoram
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teapsoon baking powder
1 tablespoon canola oil
Large handful cilantro (leaves and stems), chopped
Lime wedges for serving

*We don't usually call for specific brands, but differences in the size of the salt crystals used by different brands affect how salty the brine will be. If using Morton's kosher salt, use 3/4 the amount called for in the recipe. If using table salt or fine sea salt, use 1/2 the amount called for in the recipe. 

1. Dissolve 1/2 cup salt in 8 cups cool water in a large mixing bowl. Submerge chicken and cover bowl tightly with plastic wrap. Let stand at room temperature for 30-45 minutes, or refrigerate for 2-3 hours. Do not leave in the brine too long, or the chicken will be too salty. Drain chicken, rinse with cold water, and pat dry with paper towels.

2. Meanwhile, soak 8 bamboo skewers in warm water for at least 20 minutes.

3. Stir together yogurt, cinnamon, cumin, cayenne, red pepper flakes, paprika, garlic powder, marjoram, black pepper, baking powder, canola oil, and remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt in large mixing bowl. Add chicken to bowl and coat evenly with yogurt mixture.

4. Fold one chicken thigh in half, smooth side out, and thread onto two skewers spaced about 1 inch apart. Thread two more thighs onto the pair of skewers. Repeat with remaining thighs to make four double skewers, each with three chicken thighs. (If this is at all confusing, just look at the picture.) Let rest on a plate at room temperature for 20 minutes.

5. Meanwhile, heat broiler to high.

6. Place chicken skewers on a broiler pan and slide under the broiler. Cook, flipping skewers or rotating pan every 2-4 minutes to ensure even browning, until cooked through, well-browned, and lightly charred, about 20 minutes. Adjust the placement of your pan if necessary; for example, the last time we made this, we cooked the chicken about 2 inches under the broiler for 18 minutes, and then moved the broiler pan about 1 inch closer to the broiler to finish browning for another 4 minutes. Exact cooking time and pan placement will depend on your broiler and you will have to play it by ear.

7. Sprinkle with cilantro and serve with lime wedges on the side.

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