Cast Iron Tandoori Chicken

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  • Level: Easy
  • Total: 1 day 45 min
  • Prep: 15 min
  • Inactive: 1 day
  • Cook: 30 min
  • Yield: 4 servings
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One whole 5-pound chicken

1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons Tandoori Spice, recipe follows

2 cups whole-fat plain yogurt

2 tablespoons freshly minced ginger root

2 cloves garlic, minced

3 tablespoons ghee, room temperature

1/2 cup jarred prepared lemon curd

Tandoori Spice:

1/3 cup coriander seeds

1/3 cup cumin seeds

2 tablespoons green cardamom pods

1 tablespoon whole cloves

1 tablespoon whole black peppercorns

2 bay leaves

One 2-inch piece cinnamon stick, broken into pieces

2 tablespoons annatto seed

2 tablespoons paprika

1 tablespoon kashmiri powder

1 tablespoon salt

1 tablespoon turmeric

Pinch ground mace

Pinch freshly grated nutmeg


  1. Rinse the chicken with cold water and pat dry. Trim the excess fat. Loosen the skin from the breast and drumsticks by gently pushing your fingers in between the skin and the meat, starting at the neck cavity. Remove the backbone using kitchen shears, and then place the chicken breast-side up on a cutting board. Flatten by firmly pressing the heel of your hand down over the breastbone. Whisk together 1/3 cup of the Tandoori Spice, the yogurt, ginger and garlic in a large glass baking dish. Coat the chicken thoroughly in the marinade, and then let marinate in the refrigerator 24 hours. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Pat the chicken dry and sprinkle all over with the remaining 2 tablespoons Tandoori Spice. Heat a large cast-iron pan over high heat, and add the ghee. Sear the chicken skin-side down until crispy and charred, 5 to 7 minutes, and then flip and place in the oven until an instant-read thermometer stuck in the thickest, meatiest part of the thigh registers between 155 and 160 degrees F, 20 minutes. Baste generously with the lemon curd every 5 minutes. Tent the chicken with foil and let rest before serving.
  2. For Tandoori Spice: Heat the coriander seeds, cumin seeds, cardamom pods, cloves, peppercorns, bay leaves and cinnamon in a medium skillet over medium-high heat, stirring often, until the cumin becomes brown, 2 to 3 minutes. Grind the spices in a spice grinder or coffee mill until powder fine, and then transfer to a bowl with the annatto seed, paprika, Kashmiri powder, salt, turmeric, mace and nutmeg. Mix thoroughly and store in an airtight container up to 4 months. Yield: 1 cup.
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