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Tandoori Chicken, Like Babu Ji Makes

by Jessi Singh

Tandoori chicken. Photo courtesy of Babu Ji.

Indian food lovers, meet Jessi Singh. He's the chef behind the headline-grabbing restaurant Babu Ji, which has locations in Melbourne, New York City, and San Francisco. For those who can't snag a reservation (or stand to wait in line), he shares his favorite eateries in NYC and SF. For those who want a taste of the place, here's his recipe for succulent tandoori chicken.

I love tandoori chicken, but many preparations have an unnatural orange color and tend to be overcooked. After much testing, I came up with a super juicy, tender version. I marinate boneless skinless thighs (as opposed to breast or leg) in yogurt, ginger, garlic, and lime juice overnight.


Serves 2-4


For the Chicken Marinade
6 medium chicken thighs
2 tsp. flour
1 tsp. coriander powder
1 tsp. cumin powder
1 tsp. cardamom powder
1 tsp. garam masala powder
1 tsp. turmeric powder
1 c. yogurt
1/2 c. lemon juice
1/2 tsp. kasoori methi (dry fenugreek leaf), optional
1/4 c. cooked finely chopped ginger (or ginger paste)
1/4 c. cooked finely chopped garlic (or garlic paste)
Salt to taste

For the Orange Dressing
1 l. orange juice
1/4 c. fresh thyme
1/2 c. extra virgin olive oil

For the Lemon Dressing
2 juicy lemons, squeezed
Equal amount of extra virgin olive oil

For the Salad (optional, your favorite salad mix will work)
1/2 c. fennel bulb, thinly sliced
1/4–1/2 c. green salad mixture of your choice

For the Mango Salsa (optional, your favorite salsa will work)
1 ripe mango
1 carrot
Fresh ginger to taste, finely julienned
Approx. 2cm stem of fresh coriander
1-2 spring onions, thinly sliced
1 1/2 tsp. sea salt
1/2 lemon dressing from above


1. Marinade the Chicken
In a large bowl, mix all the ingredients together to make a marinade. Trim the fat from the chicken and cut into medium pieces. Place the chicken in marinade and massage into chicken. Completely cover the chicken with the marinade. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours (overnight is better).

2. Make the Orange Dressing
Reduce the orange juice on low heat to approximately 1/2 cup (15-20 minutes). Add thyme while reducing. Strain orange juice and add olive oil.

3. Make the Lemon Dressing
Mix the lemon juice and olive oil together.

4. Toss the Salad
Combine the fennel with salad greens.

5. Make the Mango Salsa
Wash and peel the mango and dice. Julienne the carrot and ginger. Mix mango, carrot, ginger, spring onion, and lemon dressing. Salt well.

6. Combine and Cook
Arrange the marinated chicken on a clean and oiled grill or grate over medium-high heat. Grill for approximately 4 minutes on each side, letting the flames slightly char some bits of the chicken. Let the chicken sit for 5 minutes in a bowl and then mix with orange dressing.


Cover a serving plate with green salad and place dressed chicken atop the salad bed, pouring over the juices from the chicken and the remaining lemon dressing. Spoon mango salsa atop the chicken and sprinkle ginger, carrot, and spring onion on top.


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