(Serves 4 to 6)
2 1/2 lbs. chicken pieces, skinned (you may use legs, breasts, or a combination of the two)
1 teaspoon salt
1 juicy lemon
15 fl. oz (425 ml) plain yoghurt
1/2 medium-sized onion, peeled and quartered
1 clove garlic, peeled
A 3/4 inch cube of fresh ginger, peeled and quartered
1/2 fresh hot green chile, roughly sliced
2 teaspoons garam masala
3 tablespoons yellow liquid food colouring mixed with 1/2 to 1 1/2 tablespoons red liquid food colouring, optional (see note below)
Wedges of lime, optional
Cut each leg into two pieces and each breast into four pieces. Cut two long slits on each side of each part of the legs. The slits should never start at an edge and they should be deep enough to reach the bone. Cut similar slits on the meaty side of each breast piece.
Spread the chicken pieces out on one or two large platters. Sprinkle half the salt and squeeze the juice from three-quarters of a lemon over them. Lightly rub the salt and lemon juice into the slits. Turn the chicken pieces over and do the same on the other side with the remaining salt and lemon juice. Set aside for 20 minutes.
Combine the yoghurt, onion, garlic, ginger, green chile and garam masala in the container of an electric blender or food processor. Blend until you have a smooth paste. Empty the paste into a strainer set over a large ceramic or stainless steel bowl. Push the paste through.
Brush the chicken pieces on both sides with the food colouring and then put them with any accumulated juices and any remaining food colouring into the bowl with the marinade. Mix well, making sure that the marinade goes into the slits in the chicken. Cover and refrigerate for 6 to 24 hours (the longer the better).
Preheat the oven to its maximum temperature (home oven that is, otherwise, 550 degrees F).
Take the chicken pieces out of the bowl, shaking off as much of the marinade as possible. Arrange them on a rack placed in a large shallow baking tray. Brush with melted butter.
Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until just done. You might test the chicken with a fork just to be sure. Serve hot with lime wedges.
The leftover marinade may be frozen, and re-used once.
Note: the traditional orange colour of cooked tandoori chicken comes from food colouring. You may or may not want to use it. If you do, mix yellow and red liquid food colours to get a bright orange shade. If your red is very dark, use only 1/2 tablespoon of it.
I serve this with Basmati rice and a salad. Maybe naan bread.
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