The king of kebabs . . . perfect for a father's day lunch or dinner!!

August 29th, 2012

When my son, Aniruddh, asked me, “Hey dad, if you were to describe a perfect father’s day – what would it be?”

No sooner had he finished asking me than I immediately replied, “Son, it has to be a day I still remember to this day like it was yesterday.”

Well, the year was 1969, and the place was Hyderabad.

I had spent a full day with my dad [I called him ‘Papa’], watching a game of test match cricket in Hyderabad. It was India versus New Zealand. Day 1. And what an amazing and unforgettable day it was!!

We watched Papa’s favourite players in action.
We saw Nawab Mansur Ali Khan of Pataudi Jnr, the youngest player ever to captain a national team in the world, take on the Kiwis who were led by the well-respected Graham Dowling.

The Indian team also had Ajit Wadekar, Bishen Bedi, Venkataraghavan and Prassanna.

On the Kiwi side there was Turner, Bevan Congdon, Dayle Hadlee and . . . well, the list goes on!

It was also my first experience of watching a test match ‘live’, as it were. It wasn’t on the television but in the stadium, the Lal Bahadur Shastri Stadium we called it “Fateh Maidan”.

At the Fateh Maidan my dad and I were sitting in the stand next to the members’ section. “Son,” I grin at my son at the memory, “it was the most exciting day of my life!!”

Mum had packed lunch for us, and it included aloo paratha with home-made mango pickle served in two boxes: one for me and one for my dad.

We reached the stadium at around 8 a.m. just as it was being announced on the radio that all roads leading to the stadium would be closed after 9 a.m. which meant that if we’d been late my dad would have had to park  his Lambretta scooter a long way from the stadium.

But we arrived well in time, we weren’t going to be late for this game, no way!!

Anyway, the day finished with NZ making a smallish total, I don’t remember the exact score but the Indian spinners did what was expected of them. It was a great day’s play.

But there was more to come.

my Papa with my Bachcha in April 2003

On our way home, Papa took me to a small restaurant called a dhaba which I was told later was the name for a roadside eatery.

At this eatery we ordered two “full tandoori chickens” as a ‘parcel’ which is a term used to this day in India for a ‘take home’, ‘take-away’, or whatever you want to call it!

All this wonderful smelling food for just the four of us, sorry, the three of us as my mom’s a vegetarian.

Papa bought mirchi pakoda (batter fried stuffed banana chillies) for my mum.

the king of kebabs – tandoori chicken!!

“Son,” I said remembering the feeling as a young boy, “Can you imagine carrying all this food in your hand, riding pillion on a scooter?”

I smiled at the recollection as I remembered my sensory system was about to explode with the wonderful smell the parcel was giving!!

Well, we reached home after what seemed like forever to get to.

We ran inside. My Papa had his ubiquitous gin and tonic and we all (that’s my sister, my mother and I) sat around a small dining table savouring the. . .[cue music] “And and I think to myself, what a wonderful world. . .”]

“So bachche (son),” I say, returning to the present, “that to me is a perfect father’s day!”

And my son replies with candour, “No issues with that dad. I am sure we can do all of those things, can’t we? We can watch India take on NZ at the cricket in India, on TV. You can have your Shiraz and call it a ‘gin and tonic’, and we can certainly make the mirchi pakoda for mum .” And he pauses and then adds, “And I am pretty sure we can also make the tandoori chicken. Happy?”

I am.

So friends, for a perfect father’s day, I suggest you watch the cricket, have a gin and tonic (with extra ice and an extra splash of lime juice) and have, well, I’m sorry about this part as you’re going to have to make your own king of kebabs: tandoori chicken!!

So, to help you do this, here is my version of the king of kebabs, and yes, you certainly can make it at home even if you do not have a tandoor, just don’t call it ‘tandoori chicken’.

You can, however, certainly call it the king of kebabs!!

So, without further ado, it’s now time to cook the KING OF KEBABS for the King of the house!


Preparing the chicken for the first marinade:

1 kg whole chicken, with the skin on

whole chicken

1. Skin the chicken & remove any excess fat & sinew. Also, remove the parson’s nose.

skin chicken & remove excess fat & trim

2. Remove the ends of the winglets on each side.

remove the ends of winglets on either side

3. Trim the ends of the drumsticks.

trim the ends of the drumsticks

4. Make a tiny slit between the thigh & the drumstick on each side, without cutting it fully.

gently make a slit between the thigh & the drumstick on each side, without cutting it fully

5. Make three evenly spaced slits on each drumstick, lengthways.

make three evenly spaced slits on each drumstick, lengthways

6. Make three slits on each thigh, as well.

do the same lengthways slit on each thigh, as well


each chicken leg should look like this

7. Make two slits along each breast, lengthways.

make two slits lengthwise along each breast

8. The chicken is now ready for the first marinade.

the prepared chicken should look like this!!


First Marinade

1. 2 tablespoons white vinegar
2. 1 teaspoon cooking salt
3. 1 1/2 teaspoons kashmiri chilli, ground

ingredients for first marinade: white vinegar, kashmiri chilli [ground] & salt

Tandoori masala/second marinade

1.1 1/2 cup thick yoghurt
2. 1 tablespoon ground ginger
3. 1 tablespoon ground garlic
4. 2 tablespoons ground kashmiri chillies, soaked in oil
5. 2 teaspoons kebab garam masala
6. salt, to taste

kashmiri chillies soaked in oil & kashmiri chillies ground to a fine paste

ingredients for second marinade/tandoori masala:
top row, left to right: yoghurt, crushed ginger & crushed garlic
bottom row, nilgiri’s garam masala, ground kashmiri chillies & salt


1. Skin the chicken, remove any excess fat but leave some as it helps keep the bird moist. Prepare the chicken for the first marinade.

chicken ready for the First Marinade

2. Prepare the chicken for the second marinade/tandoori masala by applying the white vinegar, salt and the chilli.

marinate the chicken with vinegar, making sure you rub gently into all the slits
add the salt & rub in
add the chilli powder & massage gently into the breast
do the same with the legs

3. Refrigerate for about 30 minutes.

the chicken should look like this after the first marinade
cover & refrigerate for 30 minutes

4. Prepare the second marinade by blending the yoghurt with the crushed ginger, crushed garlic, ground chillies with oil, garam masala, salt together to form a ‘tandoori masala’.

start with yoghurt for the second marinade
add crushed ginger
add crushed garlic
mix well
add salt
add ground kashmiri chillies in oil
mix well & check for seasoning
add nilgiri’s garam masala & fold
the Second Marinade/Tandoori Masala is ready

5. Remove the chicken from the fridge and apply the Tandoori Masala onto the marinated chicken.

apply the tandoori masala on the marinated chicken
apply the marinade all over the chicken, massaging gently in every slit & cavity
another angle of the marinated chicken

6. Cover and place the marinated chicken in the fridge for about an hour.

marinated chicken, ready to go!!
cover & refrigerate for about an hour

7. Remove the chicken from the fridge, place a skewer through the chicken. place the chicken in an earthenware, or clay, pot and place this in a pre-heated oven, temp. 160C.

run a skewer through the chicken & place on an earthenware pot or roasting tray with your choice of spices to give a ‘smoked’ flavour!

8. Cook in the oven for about 45 mins, or till the meat is cooked.

place the chicken in a pre-heated oven at 160 C
chicken cooking in the oven after 10-15 minutes
chicken after 25 minutes

9. To caramelise the chicken, turn on the grill in the oven. Cook for about 5 mins, or till the meat is golden.

chicken almost cooked, after 45 minutes, it is now ready for the grill
chicken after being grilled
tandoori chicken, hot from the oven

10. Serve the ‘king of kebabs’ with a mint and coriander chatni, sliced onions and a lemon wedge.

tandoori chicken, with onion rings, lemon wedge & mint & coriander chatni


Mint and Coriander Chatni


1. 1 bunch fresh mint, roots removed and some of the thick stems taken off, washed
2. 1 big bunch fresh coriander, roots taken off, stem removed, washed
3. 4-5 small green chillies
4. 1 tablespoon pomegranate extract
5. salt, to taste
6. 1 red onion
7. lemon wedge


1. Grind all the ingredients, except for the red onion and lemon wedge, to a fine paste. Add salt, as required.

grind all the chatni ingredients (apart from the red onion and lemon wedge)  to a fine paste. add salt

2. Refrigerate and serve with the hot chicken alongside the sliced red onion and lemon wedge.


mint chatni, ready for the chicken, refrigerate until required


the perfect accompaniment to the “king of kebabs”!!

A few things to remember:

1. Buy the chicken with the skin on as this keeps the meat moist, even if you are not marinating it the same day.
2. Remember to prepare the chicken for the second marinade by applying the first marinade. Do not add the first marinade to the second and apply it on to the bird altogether. This won’t save you time, also, the marinade will not stick to the chicken.
3. To get the red colour, soak the chillies in lukewarm water till they swell (balloon), then squeeze the chillies and crush in a food processor with some vegetable oil.
4. Cook the chicken at a temperature of 160- 170 C as this keeps the meat moist and allows the chicken to cook from the ‘inside – out’.
5. To caramelise the chicken, flash under a hot grill or do as I do here!
6. Add your choice of whole spices to the earthenware pot before placing the chicken in it. As the oven heats up, so do the spices and the smoked flavour permeates into the meat.

“Well, it looks like it’s all ready,” says my son. “All you now need is a good Shiraz from the Iron Gate in the Hunter’, right Dad?”

“Yup, son.’ I reply yet add, “But there is only one thing missing. Where is my Papa?”

Anah Daata Sukhi Bhava!!!


  1. Amina Shrestha

    tried with 2 kg chicken canot figure out 3 cup yoghurt so little bit hard for me

  2. Tandoori chicken cooked at home! |

    […] wonderful dish which reminds me so much of my father. If you’re keen for the story, click here. If you’re simply keen for the recipe, scroll […]

  3. Ajoy Joshi

    Hello Hemlata,
    Great to hear from you and thanks for the kind words.
    As for the photos I am very lucky to have a great photographer, my job is that much more easier.
    Well, all you need to do now is just try the recipe and tell us how it came out. Remember to follow the process and change the weights of the ingredients to your taste.
    Happy cooking!!

  4. Hemlata @

    Wow! Amazing pictures. They look absolutely delicious.Thanks for providing step by step recipe of tandoori chicken!!

  5. Ajoy Joshi

    Hello Sahil,
    Great to hear from you and sorry for the delay in getting back.
    I believe there could be a number of reasons why the chicken was dry:
    1. Maybe it was a ‘thawed’ chicken that was sold to you.
    This is a chicken that has been in the freezer, ‘de frosted’ and sold. To the naked eye it looks normal but will behave abnormally when marinated and placed in the oven. This means the ice crystals that are formed are now ‘water’ and start to flow out when exposed to heat. This sometimes happens to frozen foods when they are thawed and re-heated. I call this ‘Weeping’ of a dish.
    2. If the electric tandoor has an exposed coil, cover it up with a cast iron plate. This helps in pushing the heat to the wall of the tandoor. The heat now comes from the sides of the oven rather than from the bottom. The entire surface of the chicken is now exposed to the heat and will sear and there by retain its moisture.
    Just remember keep trying, back yourself and you will get to your destination!!
    Happy cooking!!!

  6. Sahil

    Hello Sir,
    I have been following your blog and highly inspired by it.
    I made tandoori Chicken in an electric tandoor.I dont know why,but it kept on ozzing water and the chicken lost most of its moisture.Plese help me..
    Thanx 🙂

  7. Ajoy Joshi

    Hello Bobby,
    Good to see you here!
    Thanks for your comments and you have a Great Father’s day too!!
    Can promise to keep the chicken but forget the Shiraz, won’t last!!
    Happy cooking!!

  8. Ajoy Joshi

    Hello Juggy,
    Good to hear from you mate and thanks for your comments.
    Happy cooking!!

  9. Bobby Bhar

    My admiration for two fine fathers and two loving sons. Enjoy Father’s day. Leave some chicken for that fabulous girl that completes the two of you. Ajoy, to our absent heroes …

  10. Anonymous

    Hi Joshi….
    The last line —where is my papa?—- that is the best part of your recipe for the dish called LIFE!!!!
    Take care

  11. Ajoy Joshi

    Hello Kc,
    How about trying out the ‘king of Biryanis’
    Called Kachche Gosht Ki Biryani now?
    I am sure you can do it!!
    Happy cooking!!!

  12. kc2002

    Hi Ajoy, just a follow up……made the ‘King of Kebabs’ following your recipe, including the white vinegar and….. It was awesome! My family and I thank you for your generosity in sharing the recipes!Btw, I have eaten at Karavalli when it had just opened and I have never forgotten the Meal! So, I thank you, belatedly it seems.

  13. Ajoy Joshi

    Hi Venu,
    Great to hear from you as always.
    You are I guess absolutely right in what you say.
    But I have a very strong feeling I might catch up with my
    old man somewhere and then I am going to ask him which is better the KOK or ….
    Happy cooking!!

  14. Ajoy Joshi

    Hello Kc,
    Thanks for your comments.
    As for white vinegar…
    I use it because it is the closest to what my ‘ustad’ called ‘sirka’.
    You may use any acidic substance as long as it does not ‘break’ the fibres of the meat. Lime juice is good, kokum is also good!
    Happy cooking!!!

  15. Venu Rao

    Hi Ajoy
    Loved the last line- where’s my Papa. It was more marinated and matured than your Nilgiri masala….. so full of emotions, probably the king of kebab may not be able to replace the Papa bond.

  16. kc2002

    Hi Ajoy I really enjoy your food blog and the stories associated with them! This post brought back many memories of the cricket greats during my days! Thanks.
    I have one question regarding the recipie, can I substitute lime juice for the vinegar? Any particular reason why you specified ‘white vinegar’?

Comments are closed.


Garam Masalas