A tandoor, the traditional oven of northern India, is essentially a bell-shaped charcoal grill lined with clay. The clay walls of the tandoor generate intense heat (up to 700°F) that creates a deep crust on the familiar tandoori chicken. You can get similar results in any charcoal grill using indirect heat; you can even use a gas grill. We like to brown the chicken over direct heat during the last 10 to 15 minutes to help develop a crust. What keeps the chicken from drying out? Using skin-on chicken pieces helps. So does an acidic marinade made with yogurt and lemon juice.
Indirect heat, medium (325° to 350°F)
3- or 4-burner grill–middle burner(s) off
2-burner grill–1 side off
Clean, oiled grate
Indirect heat, medium ash
Split charcoal bed (about 2 dozen coals per side)
20 replacement coals
Heavy-duty drip pan set between banks of charcoal
Clean, oiled grate on medium setting
INGREDIENTS (MAKES 4 SERVINGS)
For the chicken:
2 cups Tandoori Yogurt Marinade
3½ to 4 pounds bone-in chicken breasts, thighs, and drumsticks
For the chutney:
Oil for coating grill grate
1 tablespoon golden raisins
2 thick slices Vidalia or other sweet onion
½ cup hot water
1 tablespoon sugar
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 teaspoons concentrated tamarind paste, or 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
2 serrano chiles or 1 jalapeño chile, stemmed and seeded.
Prep: 10 minutes (plus 5 minutes for marinade)
Marinate: 12 to 24 hours
Grill: 30 to 40 minutes.
BBQ TOOLS AND EQUIPMENT
– Long-handled tongs.
– Use a whole, butterflied chicken instead of parts.
– To turn up the heat in the chutney, leave the seeds in the chile peppers.
1. For the chicken: Pour the marinade into a 2-gallon zipper-lock bag, two 1-gallon bags, or a glass baking dish. Add the chicken, massaging the marinade into the meat. Seal or cover and refrigerate for at least 12 hours and up to 24 hours.
2. For the chutney: Heat the grill as directed. Soak the raisins in the hot water until plump, about 15 minutes. Brush the grill grate and coat it with oil. Grill the onion slices directly over the heat until nicely grill-marked, 3 to 4 minutes per side. Pour the raisins with their soaking liquid into a food processor along with the onions and the remaining chutney ingredients. Pulse until chunky.
3. Put the chicken over the unheated part of the grill and put down the lid. Cook, turning once or twice, until the chicken is no longer pink and the juices run clear (about 170°F on an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part without touching bone), 30 to 40 minutes total. Breasts cook faster, so check them first. During the last 10 to 15 minutes of grilling, move the chicken over the heated part of the grill to brown all over. If your grill has a temperature gauge, it should stay at around 350°F.
4. Remove the chicken to a large serving platter. Serve with the chutney.
– Fresh pomegranate juice tastes best, but in a pinch you can substitute bottled pomegranate juice, which is reconstituted from pomegranate concentrate.
Prep: 10 minutes (plus 10 minutes for rub and brine)
Brine: 4 to 6 hours
Grill: 20 to 30 minutes.
BBQ TOOLS AND EQUIPMENT
– Long-handled spatula
– Long-handled tongs.
– To create super-crisp skin and more even browning of the meat, weight down the chicken with a heavy cast-iron or other heatproof skillet as the chicken cooks. Fill the skillet with rocks or a brick if it needs more weight to press the chicken into the grill grate.
BUTTERFLYING A CHICKEN
1. Cut through the ribs on each side of the backbone with poultry shears or a heavy knife. If using shears, put the bird breast-side down so you can easily snip through the backbone on top. If using a knife, put the bird breast-side up so that you can use the work surface to get leverage as you cut through the rib bones. Cut from neck to tail on each side of the backbone and remove the backbone (save for stock if you like).
2. Turn the bird breast-side up and press down with your hands to flatten it out.
3. For a pretty presentation, make a ½-inch slit toward the bottom tip of each breast, about 1 inch from the end. Fold the legs around and tuck them into the slits.
Prep: 10 minutes (plus 20 minutes for peppers and pesto)
Grill: 10 to 15 minutes.
– When pounding the chicken, sprinkle it with a few drops of water to prevent sticking. Begin pounding from the thickest part of the meat outward to encourage the meat to spread as it thins.
– To keep the toothpicks or skewers from burning on the grill, soak them in water for 20 minutes before using.