Oven Roasted Tandoori Chicken
2 (2 1/2-pound) whole chickens (or 6-8 leg quarters)
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon red chili powder
4 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
6 tablespoons plain yogurt
7 tablespoons half and half
2 1/2 tablespoons ginger paste
2 1/2 tablespoons garlic paste
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon garam masala powder*
1/2 pound mixed salad greens
1 lemon, cut into 4 wedges
1 small onion, sliced
4 tablespoons melted butter, for basting
To prepare each chicken: Rinse under cold water and remove all the skin. With a sharp knife, make 3 deep incisions in each breast, 3 in each thigh and 2 on each drumstick. Then with a butcher knife, cut each chicken into quarters. First, cut the chicken in half down the middle. Second, cut the legs off where the thigh meets the body. Lastly, remove each breast, keeping the wings attached. Place the pieces of chicken on a large plate.
To prepare the spice rub: In a small bowl, combine the salt, chili powder and lemon juice to make a thick paste. Rub the paste evenly over the chicken legs and breasts. Set the chicken aside for 15 minutes to let the flavors absorb.
To prepare the tandoori sauce: In a large bowl, combine the yogurt, half and half, ginger paste, garlic paste, cumin, and garam masala. Whisk everything together until it is well mixed. Rub the sauce evenly over the chicken legs and breasts, thoroughly covering the chicken. Cover and place in the refrigerator to marinate for 4 hours.
Preheat an oven or charcoal grill to 350 degrees F.
To prepare the garnishes for the dish: Wash and drain the salad greens and slice the onion and the lemon.
Remove the chicken from the refrigerator. Skewer the legs starting from the drumstick end, through to the thigh so that the leg is spread out straight for even roasting. Skewer the breasts starting from the wing, through the breast so that the wing is spread out straight for even roasting.
If cooking the chicken in an oven, place the chicken in a shallow roasting pan lined with foil to catch the drippings. If cooking the chicken on a grill, place the chicken directly on the grill with a pan underneath it to catch the drippings. Roast for 10 minutes, then remove and baste with the melted butter and drippings from the bottom of the pan. Return the chicken back to the heat and roast for another 30 to 40 minutes, or until juices run clear when pierced with a fork, basting a couple more times during cooking.
(Garam Masala): Toast the coriander, cumin, cardamom, peppercorns, fennel, mustard, cloves, and the chiles in a small dry skillet over medium-low heat just until they smell fragrant, about 2 minutes. In a clean coffee grinder or spice mill, grind the toasted spices together to a fine powder.