A while back I tried a recipe for buttermilk roast chicken. The recipe suggested that you allow the chicken to marinate in the buttermilk for 24 hours and the result was very tender. I had used a whole chicken cut into parts and I was surprised to discover that, when prepared this way, the breast was my favourite part. I am usually a dedicated dark meat fan, so much so that I really prefer duck over chicken. I thought that it would be a good way to prepare chicken breasts when those big family packs of chicken breasts go on sale. I am not a big family, but I reasoned that if the chicken benefited so much from sitting around for a day in the marinade it probably would not mind being frozen in its marinade for future roasting.
Although I was impressed with the tenderness of the chicken, I was not personally in love with the very strait forward american spices in the original recipe. I wanted to try Indian spices. I looked at a recipe for faking tandoori chicken at home in Madhur Jaffrey’s Indian Cooking. What d’ya know? The fake tandoori recipe was almost identical to the buttermilk roast chicken, only with better spices.
In the end, I smooshed the two recipes together and added in my own touches as well. Tandoori chicken is usually bright red from food colouring. I do not use food colouring, but I had to admit that the unadored pale chicken was very sad looking. I had pretty, tasty and healthy results slathering the chicken with hot paprika instead.
This chicken can be used to make a fabulous butter chicken.
- 1/2 Tablespoon of cardamom seeds (picked out of 1/8 cup cardamom pods)
- 1 inch stick of cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
- 1/2 teaspoon whole cloves
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper corns
- 3 or 4 grates from a fresh nutmeg or 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 5 pounds skinless, boneless chicken breast (or a whole chicken, cut into 8 pieces)
- 4 tablespoons Kosher salt
- 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- The juice of 2 large lemons
- 2 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced
- 1 medium onion chopped
- 1 and 1/2 inch knob of ginger, peeled and minced
- 1 fresh hot green chili (I use jalapeno because they are easy to find)
- 4 cups buttermilk or plain yogurt
- a bit of mild oil
- a small handful of hot paprika (optional)
- a bit more salt
- Rinse the chicken breasts and pat them dry.
- Place all of the spices in a clean electric coffee or spice grinder or mortar and pestle.
- Process the spices until they are finely ground.
- Add the spice mixture, salt, sugar, lemon juice, garlic, onion, ginger and hot green chili to a blender or food processor. Process the mixture until it is a thick paste, adding buttermilk as needed for moisture.
- When the paste has formed, whisk in the rest of the buttermilk.
- Divide the chicken breasts between two gallon freezer bags. Divide the spicy buttermilk marinade between the two bags (about 3 cups for each bag). Seal each bag and give them each a vigorous shake. Place one bag in the fridge for to marinate for at least one day and up to three days. Place the other bag in the freezer so that you can make a second batch of delicious chicken sometime later when you are busy!
- Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
- Pull the chicken out of marinade and shake off any extra. The marinade can be frozen and reused ONCE. Pour a bit of paprika into your hands and slather the chicken pieces to coat them with red colour. Place the chicken in a baking dish in a single layer. Drizzle the top with a bit of mild oil and a bit more salt and bake for 20-25 minutes for boneless chicken breasts or 30-35 minutes for chicken parts with the bone in.