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Tandoori marinade

Here's my draft for Tandoori marinade with a few questions:

coriander, cumin, paprika, Kashmiri red chili, fresh ginger-garlic paste, yogurt, nutmeg, black pepper, salt, kasoori methi, either lemon or lime

which, lime or lemon?
cardamom powder?
garam masala?
fresh onion grated?
fresh coriander leaves (in addition to coriander powder)?
fenugreek powder?
curry leaves ground into powder?
ginger powder (in addition to fresh)?
amchoor powder?

Am I missing something special? Is it possible to overcrowd the marinade? I want that really deep mouth-watering flavor, no shortcuts.

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  1. I use lime juice, yes to grated onions, yes to cardamom and cinnamon, no to cilantro ( IE fresh coriander, even though I love it I don't use it here), no to the rest. At least in mine.

    1. Sahni and Jaffrey say lemon juice, so that is what I use. They suggest slashing the skinless, bone-in chicken [assuming you are using chicken] and rubbing lemon juice and salt all over the pieces, paying special attention to the slits. Then build the rest of the marinade while the chicken sits with the lemon and salt. When the marinade is done, then the chicken is added to that.

      I have found the difference in texture since reading this tip to be more than noticeable. It is brilliant and results in the perfect cooked chicken texture.

      1. Use lemon. No to everything else.

        1. Look almost the same as what I was taught.

          For 2 fryer Chickens cut up:

          Dry Masala
          4 tsp Coriander
          2 tsp Cumin
          4 tsp Paprika
          1 tsp Cayenne
          1/2 tsp Tumeric
          3 tsp Kosher Salt
          Toast Cumin and Coriander lightly and Powder
          Mix with the rest of the dry Spices(if you have Kashmiri Chili Powder sub it for the Paprika and Cayenne)

          2 Lemons
          Squeeze over Chicken pieces and then mix in the Dry Masala coating all the Pieces.

          Wet Masala
          1 C Whole Milk Yogurt
          1/4 C Ginger-Garlic Paste
          Green Chilis 2-? (ground with the Ginger and Garlic)
          12 or so stalks Cilantro and Mint chopped

          Mix all wet Ingredients and add to the Chicken, mixing thoroughly to coat all the Pieces. Marinate 2 hour min up to 12 Hours

          1. I asked my mom and she says:

            - Lemon not lime.
            - Just make a batch of Garam Masala instead of GM and the other spices as well
            - Chaat Masala in place of Amchoor powder.

            Also gives these 2 recipes as her 'base' and then amends them to taste.
            Tandoori: http://www.sanjeevkapoor.com/tandoori...

            Garam Masala: http://www.sanjeevkapoor.com/garam-ma...

            1. I use the following, it's easy (with all easily attainable spices) but very good. One of the tricks that I learned is that you soak the meat (this recipe is what I use for a leg of lamb) in lemon juice before marinading it for about 30 mins.

              • 2 cups plain whole-milk yogurt
              • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
              • 2 garlic cloves, minced
              • 2 tablespoons minced peeled fresh ginger
              • 2 tablespoons dry mustard
              • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
              • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
              • 1 teaspoon ground cardamom
              • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
              • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
              • 1 teaspoon turmeric
              • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper

              2 Replies
              1. re: hankstramm

                Looks like an interesting marinade for lamb, but the mustard sticks out to me. While mustard and herbs is a classic pairing with lamb, few Indian dishes other than pickles will utilize mustard flavor to that extent and you end up with a tandoori that gets more of its pungency from mustard than hot spices. I'd 86 the mustard and set out to recalibrate the rest of the spice blend.

                Without mustard as the backbone of your marinade, you have room to add more pungent seasonings. Equal amounts grated ginger and garlic (reduce to 1 tbsp). The remaining equal parts nutmeg, cardamom and cinnamon will need tweaking. The easiest alternative would be to substitute a teaspoon of garam masala, but if you want to mix your own spices, reduce the nutmeg and cardamom by ¾ and consider reducing the cinnamon by about half. Now you have a blend equal to the teaspoon of cumin, but while you're at it, you'll want to balance that out further with a teaspoon of ground coriander. ¼ tsp. of ground fenugreek can add back up to your turmeric. Paprika (sweet for color, smoked for flavor) would also not be unwarranted here. Other spices to consider adding to/substituting in the cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom trio: clove (in place of nutmeg), black cardamom and fennel. You can also shorten your preparation time by combining lemon juice with the whole fat yogurt. The acid will still tenderize while the fat helps the spices penetrate the meat.

                1. re: JungMann

                  Thanks for the critique, it's been so successful that I'll probably make it as is a few more times. I didn't mention that I slow cook it on a grill, so no paprika/smokey notes are needed, but maybe non smoked paprika for color and flavor too. For some reason, I don't like black cardamom's smokey flavor that much, not sure why, but it puts me off a little.

              2. Your draft marinade is a good basic marinade, except for the kasoori methi. And paprika is sort of redundant if you are using Kashmiri red chili which adds both the color of paprika and some lal mirch heat (though not enough for my taste).

                If you have to pick your acid from between lemon or lime, go for the lemon. You don't need more acid in the form of amchoor. If you use a cool spice like cardamom, you need garam masalas otherwise your chicken will taste floral. If you use turmeric, don't add kasoori methi -- both add bitter flavors. Definitely skip the coriander, curry leaf and ground ginger. They don't have a place there.

                If your goal is a complex marinade, you can check out Aarti Sequeira's recipe. I generally like the masala with a few alterations and don't bother with making a sauce.

                1 Reply
                1. re: JungMann

                  I really like your response. If you have time, please critique my marinade (although it's not mine, rather something I picked up online, but I'd love to improve it).