Traditionally this dish is prepared by marinating the chicken in a yoghurt based mixture, and then roasting it in a clay oven known as a tandoor, hence the name.
Sadly our humble abode cannot accommodate a tandoor, and if you’re being somewhat strict about dairy in your Paleo regime that rules yoghurt out, too. You can kind of replicate the heat of a tandoor with a hot oven, but the yoghurt presented a real stumbling block.
I was in kind of a Zen-like state, contemplating the graceful span of the Öresund Bridge, when the thought occurred to me – would it be possible to replace the creamy, thick yoghurt with an equally thick coconut cream?
Yes, I know that when you marinate meat in yoghurt all sorts of bio-chemical stuff is going on between the flesh and the yoghurt culture, but I think I’m right in saying that is mostly important in terms of tenderising certain cuts that otherwise might have been a bit too tough, which shouldn’t really matter when we are using chicken.
So, if it’s mostly a taste thing, then surely the coconut cream should work just as well, non?
That was my working hypothesis, anyway. As luck would have it, I just happened to have some chicken legs in the fridge that needed using up, as well as a pack of coconut cream handy.
Spices? Check! Thunderbirds are GO!
I have to say that we were very, very happy with the results! When it comes to Indian food, we have a high standard here at Château Paleovirtus, but this Paleo version of Tandoori Chicken lived up to all our expectations…
Paleo Coconut Tandoori Chicken
- 4 chicken legs, approx. 400g by weight
- 250ml coconut cream
- 2 tsp onion powder
- 2 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp hot chilli powder
- 1 tsp ground ginger
- 2 tsp garam masala
- 1 tsp turmeric
- 1 tsp smoked Spanish paprika
- 1 tsp mild paprika
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 2 tbsp dried coriander leaf
- 2 tbsp dried fenugreek leaf
- Put the coconut cream in a large mixing bowl. Add the onion powder, garlic powder, hot chilli powder, ground ginger, garam masala, turmeric, smoked Spanish paprika, mild paprika, olive oil, dried coriander leaf, and dried fenugreek leaf. Mix well to combine.
- Add the chicken to the bowl. Mix well to ensure the chicken is thoroughly coated by the coconut cream and spice mixture. Place in the fridge to marinate for at least 2 hours.
- Remove the chicken from the fridge in order to bring it up to room temperature. Pre-heat the oven to 200°C.
- Lightly grease a small oven roasting dish or tray. Place the chicken on the tray, and the place the tray on the middle shelf of the oven. Roast the chicken for about 45 minutes or until done – the flesh should have lost its raw, pink colour, and when pierced any juices that run out should be clear.
- Remove the tray from the oven, and allow the chicken to rest for a few minutes. Serve.
- Sometimes you’ll see this dish prepared using red food colouring, giving it a deep red appearance when cooked. I didn’t have any in, and besides, some forms of food colouring can contain some seriously nasty additives. Your call, mate.
- Here I’ve prepared the dish as a starter / appetiser, but it could just as easily be scaled up to a main course using an appropriate amount of chicken pieces, and extra marinade as needed.
- Yoghurt does come with its own slightly acidic twang, so in future I might just experiment further with adding a wee touch of lime juice to the marinade.