This little dish very is Indian in spirit, although I don’t think I have ever actually seen cardamom paired with lemon zest in any of my Indian cookery books. The two flavorings do, however, work very nicely together with chicken and the result, using the spice blend and cooking method used here, makes for a novel twist on the ever-popular Indian restaurant favorite, Tandoori Chicken.
The Seasoning Ingredients
It is a common practice to first rub chicken with salt and lemon juice to prepare it for Tandoori cooking. Here, the chicken does get rubbed with lemon juice, but this is followed with a rub of the lemon zest, salt, and just a pinch of sugar.
The secondary spice mixture is composed of Turmeric, Powdered Cardamom, Cayenne Pepper, and Amchoor Powder. The last ingredient is finely ground Dried Mango, which adds a nice fruity sweetness to many Indian dishes. There really isn’t a substitute for this, so if you are unable to locate it, you can omit and use a pinch of additional sugar instead.
The Basic Method for Making Cardamom-Lemon Chicken
In Indian cookery, most recipes for chicken call for the skin to be removed. You can certainly do that too, if you wish, but I love the taste and texture of crisp chicken skin and I am leaving it on. Either way, you should slash the chicken in several places, as above, in order to let the flavor of the seasonings penetrate a little better. Here, the first seasonings are applied and left to work for about 30 minutes or so.
Normally, in Tandoori Chicken recipes, the main spice blend is mixed with Yogurt before being used but, for this recipe, the dry spices are applied directly and rubbed well into the flesh and under the skin. The chicken is then left to rest for several hours, or overnight, to marinate.
During baking, the chicken will be basted with melted butter seasoned with toasted Cumin Seed. If you prefer, you may substitute the whole butter with Ghee.
The chicken is baked at 450 degrees Fahrenheit for about 30 – 40 minutes (depending on the size of the pieces). During the process, it is basted with the butter and the cumin seeds are left to adhere to the skin (or flesh, if the skin has been removed).
At the end of the Baking tome, once the pieces are fully cooked, you can finish it under the broiler for a minute or two in order to give the pieces that slightly charred appearance you get with proper Tandoori cooking.
The chicken should be allowed to rest for a few minutes before serving. Here, one piece of chicken, served with a Shrimp Pilaf, makes for a delicious, filling meal.
Your Recipe Card:
- 1 ½ lbs. Chicken pieces;
- ¾ tbsp. Salt;
- 1 tbsp. minced Lemon Zest;
- 1 tsp. Sugar;
- 3 tbsp. Lemon Juice;
- 1 ½ tbsp. Turmeric;
- 1 – 1 ½ tsp. Cardamom Powder;
- ¼ tsp. Cayenne Pepper or more to taste, if you like;
- 1 tsp. Amchoor Powder;
- 1 tsp. Cumin seeds;
- 2 tbsp. Butter or Ghee;
- Cut several slashes in the skin and flesh of the chicken pieces and rub them all over with the lemon juice.
- Combine the lemon zest, sugar and salt and rub the mixture into the chicken, making sure you get plenty into the slashes and under the skin. Set the chicken aside for a good 30 minutes or so.
- Now rub the pieces well with mixture of the turmeric, cardamom, cayenne and amchoor , and, again, work some under the skin and into the slashes. Cover and refrigerate the chicken for several hours, or overnight, to allow the flavor to penetrate.
- Pre-heat your oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Toast the cumin seeds in a dry pan until they give off their fragrance. Add the butter and, when it is melted remove from the heat and set aside for the moment.
- Bake the chicken on a wire rack for about 30 -40 minutes, turning once during cooking, and baste several times with the butter, making sure that some of the cumin seeds adhere.
- If desired, finish the chicken under the broiler to give it a slight char here and there in the Tandoori style.
- Allow the chicken to rest for 5 minutes or so and then serve.