Serves 4 to 6
When I lived in Cambridge, my housemate’s mother came over from Britain and stayed with us for a month, cooking the Indian foods Riaz liked as a child. She taught me how to make this marinade, which we used mostly for chicken. You can add food coloring to get the traditional red color or add beet juice as a natural alternative, but I^usually just leave it out.
It is best to use whole spices and grind them in a mortar or spice grinder after toasting. You can substitute cayenne or ground chillis (not chili powder) or hot Hungarian paprika for some or all of the sweet paprika for a hotter marinade.
1 cup yogurt (preferably whole-fat)
1 knob ginger the size of a walnut, peeled
3 to 5 large cloves garlic, peeled
3 Serrano peppers
1-1/2 tablespoons ground coriander
1 tablespoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 teaspoon sweet paprika
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground fenugreek
2 to 3 pounds chicken – either a whole chicken cut in parts; 2 pounds thighs; 3 whole breasts, bone-in and split; or 3 pounds wings, tips cut off
Cilantro leaves for garnish
Place the coriander and cumin on small pieces of aluminum foil and toast separately in a toaster oven. When they darken slightly and are fragrant, they are done. Be careful not to burn them.
Chop the ginger into several chunks, cut the garlic cloves in half, and chop the Serranos roughly. If you want less heat, remove the seeds and white membrane from the peppers first. Place in a blender with a couple of tablespoons of water and blend until the chunks are smooth. Add a little of the yogurt if you need some extra moisture. Add the remaining ingredients and blend well.
Place the chicken in a 1-quart plastic bag and pour in the marinade. Mix well, seal and place on a plate in the refrigerator. Let marinate for at least an hour or as long as overnight. Turn the bag a few times while it is sitting.
Broil or grill the chicken over indirect heat, basting with any remaining marinade during the first 15 minutes. It will take about 30 to 45 minutes to cook. Sprinkle with the cilantro just before serving.
Serve with rice, hot pita bread, raita (a cucmber and yogurt salad) and mango chutney.