Growing up, my dad, his partner and I had a Sunday tradition of Indian buffet in Cambridge, MA. I typically made the trip from NYC to Boston once a month and every Sunday we’d hop on the Tube and get off at Central Station to hit up whichever Indian spot they’d currently decided was the best in town. Inevitably every six months or so they’d venture out to a new place and proclaim this one the new favorite.
For me, a good Indian buffet has several features. Aside from the obvious freshness factor, I look for a good variety of dishes (e.g. veg, lentils, meats), quality homemade chutneys in mass quantities, and good Kheer (Indian rice pudding) for dessert. Tandoori chicken is not a staple for me at Indian lunch buffets mostly because the qualities that make or break Tandoori chicken are the antithesis of buffet style food. There’s a reason why Tandoori typically comes on a sizzling plate with charred onions and melting lemons – it should be served hot and fresh to prevent the meat from drying.
After years of feeling intrigued by indian marinades I decided to start playing around with my own Tandoori recipes. I love the idea of marinating meat in yogurt and spices, a tradition found in so many great South Asian and Middle Eastern recipes. The yogurt acts as a natural tenderizer and keeps the meat moist when cooking. It also locks in great flavor when combined with herbs and spices. For a super simple recipe, this one uses a number of great techniques that will help you make loads of great marinades. I like to serve this chicken with mango chutney (Kalustyan’s is my absolute favorite) and warm buttery naan.