Viet-Inspired Tandoori Chicken

Ever since I learned how to make Tandoori Chicken, I've been a big fan of using yogurt in chicken marinades. In the right proportions and marinating times, it subtly tenderizes the meat and enhances its natural flavor, texture, and juiciness without imparting yogurt flavor.

This variation on Tandoori Chicken is inspired by the cuisine of my Little Asian Mama's people. ;)

Viet-Inspired Tandoori Chicken
Serves 4 to 6
Time: About 15 minutes prep, 6 to 24 hours to marinate, and 45 to 60 minutes to cook.

- 3.5 pounds bone-in, skin-on chicken pieces (thighs, drums, wings, and halved breast pieces)


- 1 Tablespoon curry powder
- 3 cloves garlic, chopped
- 1 Tablespoon minced ginger
- 1/2 cup yogurt
- 1 Tablespoon brown sugar
- 2 + 1/4 Tablespoons fish sauce
- 1 Tablespoon tomato paste
- 1/4 cup chopped cilantro for the marinade + a little more for garnish (you can use the stems)
- zest of half a lime
- 1 jalapeño, chopped
- 1 Tablespoon lime juice

1) Place all marinade ingredients in a large mixing bowl and stir or whisk to combine thoroughly.

2) Place the chicken in the marinade and mix gently but thoroughly to evenly season each piece.

You can now cover the bowl and place it in the fridge to marinate for 6 to 24 hours, redistributing the chicken 2 or 3 times during the marinating period to ensure even seasoning, or you can put it all in a gallon capacity Ziploc bag, which is great for even marinating, specially if you lay all the meat in a single layer, suction all the air out of it, and lay it on its side in the fridge. You can flip the bag once halfway through the marinating period to ensure both sides get seasoned through.

3) An hour before cooking, take the chicken out of the fridge and lay it in a single layer on either a sturdy sheet pan (not a cookie sheet) with a grill rack over it (my preferred method), or on a broiler pan with slats, skin side up, and let it come up to room temp. I mention this often, but bringing your protein up to room temp results in a better outer sear, which results in more internal juiciness.

4) 20 minutes before cooking, preheat your oven to 450F. Once the oven's preheated, put the chicken on the center rack of the oven and roast for 40 to 55 minutes, depending on the size of your chicken pieces.

If you buy drums and thighs in your typical supermarket pre-pack, it's likely that your chicken pieces are on the bigger side and will require somewhere between 50 to 55 minutes. A great thing about the yogurt marinade is that it is quite forgiving, and you don't have to worry that the extra 5 minutes of roasting time just to be safe is going to dry out your bird.

I like to serve the chicken sprinkled with chopped cilantro with a simple side salad of Spring Greens, mangoes if they're in season, and a quick raita made of equal parts hanh dam (Vietnamese quick pickled onions) and yogurt plus a good pinch of salt and chopped cilantro, which balances out the meal and ties the Viet-Indian fusion flavors together nicely.

Enjoy. :)




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