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Old 07-10-2010, 01:19 PM   #1
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Yogurt Marinades

When marinading with yogurt (like in a chicken tikka/tandoori chicken), do you guys wipe off the yogurt marinade before grilling it? Everytime I've done a yogurt marinade, I've had less than stellar results. My best results are always with an oil/citrus juice based marinade or a water based marinade/brine. When working with some liquidy/gelatinous like yogurt, I'm thinking I should maybe lightly "squeeze" the yogurt off the meat with my thumb and index finger before taking it to the grill, or else it'll boil/steam more than grill. Is that correct?

I sometimes do this yogurt rubbed chicken baked in the oven at very high heat (like 550 F) -- it's just yogurt with garlic, ginger, cumin, coriander, chili powder, cinnamon, cardomom, and a few other aromatic spices rubbed on the chicken. In this case, I don't wipe the marinade/yogurt rub off because the oven will turn the yogurt into a kind of moist crust with its high heat. Doesn't seem to work that way on the grill, though... =[

Do you guys have any quick yogurt marinade recipes that you personally enjoy (specifically for grilling)?

Thanks in advance for the help!

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Old 07-10-2010, 01:53 PM   #2
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When I make tandoori chicken, I marinate thighs in a ziplock with the yogurt marinade. Using tongs, I just grab a thigh, shake off as much marinade as I can and slap it on the grill. The chicken is on the grill long enough so you can get a nice char and crust on the pieces even of they are a little moist when you start.
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Old 07-11-2010, 09:49 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by Andy M. View Post
When I make tandoori chicken, I marinate thighs in a ziplock with the yogurt marinade. Using tongs, I just grab a thigh, shake off as much marinade as I can and slap it on the grill. The chicken is on the grill long enough so you can get a nice char and crust on the pieces even of they are a little moist when you start.
Thanks Andy -- appreciate the response. Would you be able share your tandoori chicken recipe? I'd love to try it. Also, do you recommend using full fat plain yogurt, fat free (I buy fat free normally), or maybe greek yogurt that has a lot of the liquid taken out? Maybe my fat free yogurt is messing up my marinades.

Thanks for the help!
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Old 07-11-2010, 10:32 AM   #4
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Turkeyman, this recipe is a work in progress. My neighbor gave it to me after I tasted her tandoori chicken. It was fantastic. She estimated the amounts and I've made the dish once with this recipe. My notes are to increase the amounts of the seasonings except for the heat levels to get a richer flavor.

There's no ginger in this recipe. Many tandoori recipes call for ginger but my neighbor doesn't use it. I'll probably add some next time I make it (later this week).

TANDOORI CHICKEN

4 Ea Chicken Thighs
2 Cl Garlic
4 Ea Green Chilies
4 Ea Lime Juice
C Plain Yogurt
1 Tb Tandoori Chicken Masala (packaged spice blend from Indian market)
1 Tb Cumin Powder
TT Salt
1 tsp Coriander Powder
2 tsp Red Chile Powder
1 Tb Butter
2 Tb Cilantro, chopped

Trim excess fat from the thighs. The thighs may be cooked with or without the skin.

Make a paste of the garlic and green chilies. Use a tablespoon of the paste in this recipe.

Combine the paste with the lime juice, yogurt, masala, cumin, salt, coriander and red chile powder.

Marinate the thighs in the marinade for 1-4 hours.

Grill the marinated chicken until done. There should be charring of the chicken from the grill. This is traditional.

For the last couple of minutes of the cooking time, brush the chicken with melted butter.

Garnish with cilantro and serve with lime wedges.


NOTE: I plan to increase the masala, cumin and coriander amounts by 25% to 50% next time.

Regarding the yogurt, I use whole milk yogurt whenever possible. If it's not readily available, I go for low fat yogurt. I don't think you need to go with Greek yogurt. It would certainly work with this recipe.
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Old 07-11-2010, 10:57 AM   #5
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The recipe looks great -- I'll up the spice levels as you said, since I think I could enjoy almost any level of chili powder, cumin and coriander in a dish. I'll also add a bit of ginger to the garlic-chili paste. Looking forward to using whole milk yogurt as well. I'll try it in the next week or two and let you know the results. Thanks again!
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Old 07-11-2010, 11:02 AM   #6
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The recipe looks great -- I'll up the spice levels as you said, since I think I could enjoy almost any level of chili powder, cumin and coriander in a dish. I'll also add a bit of ginger to the garlic-chili paste. Looking forward to using whole milk yogurt as well. I'll try it in the next week or two and let you know the results. Thanks again!
Good luck. I look forward to hearing your results.
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Old 07-11-2010, 02:39 PM   #7
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I second all of the above, & will just add that my experience has been that while whole-milk (aka "regular") plain yogurt & low-fat yogurt are fine, do try to avoid using the totally "fat-free" yogurt. It ends up too thin/drippy/liquidy for recipes like this.

Also - if using a marinade like this for fish (I LOVE it with thick white fish like cod), don't marinate for more than an hour tops or the acidity of the yogurt will begin to change the texture of the fish - as in "mushy".
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Old 07-11-2010, 03:25 PM   #8
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Pardon me if I'm repeating, but one thing to remember is that yogurt is a short-time marinade. I once left chicken breasts overnight in it (I can't remember if I was doing tandoori or kabobs of some kind) and the yogurt literally ate away the chicken and it was mush the next day. Remember that yogurt is alive! A few hours is plenty. I also, as others have mentioned, to scrape, wipe, whatever the excess off before cooking it.
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Old 07-11-2010, 04:08 PM   #9
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Actually, you CAN marinate chicken overnight in a yogurt marinade IF you're using skin-on pieces of chicken. Skinless pieces, however, as Claire said, can't be left that long without having texture problems.

As far as scraping/wiping the excess marinade off, I never do it. It's that cooked-on spicy yogurt coating that adds so much tang to the finished dish. Plus, it helps to keep the chicken moist while grilling or broiling. Just my personal experience. By all means do what works best for you to enjoy it!
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Old 07-12-2010, 01:00 AM   #10
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just a little more info: the reason dairy marinades affect a protein's texture is that they contain tenderizing enzymes. same goes for marinades containing pineapple or papaya. acid marinades will help break down collagen, but work more slowly than enzymatic tenderization, therefore they are more forgiving time wise.

when it comes to grilling, andy and breezy's methods of just shaking or minimally wiping off excess marinade should be ok since it's a method of dry, direct heat that allows excessive moisture to be taken away.

if you're cooking in a pot, crock, or pan, you'll want to remove as much of the marinade so as to allow the meat to brown better. wet meat retards the maillard reaction, so wiping and even patting dry will help.

and thanks for the recipe, andy. i'll be trying this soon.
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Old 07-12-2010, 05:19 PM   #11
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Thanks for all the input on the yogurt marinades. I couldn't wait -- I ended up making the chicken today =]. It turned out really flavorful. I made a few small changes based on what was available and how much I wanted to cook:

-I used about 10 chicken thighs
-I used a 7 oz tub of greek yogurt -- when I saw it in the store, it kind of called out to me as being the perfect size (it was 2% yogurt, I actually had trouble finding any kind of whole milk yogurt)
-I crushed 4 cloves of garlic, a 1/2 inch piece of ginger and 7 green chilies together with 1 tsp of kosher salt in my mortar and pestle, then added the whole thing to the tub of greek yogurt along with the other spices.
-I added a little more of the tandoori masala and the coriander as compared to the other spices.

Once again, it was really good -- thanks for the recipe Andy. It was definitely my nonfat yogurt messing things up. All I need now is the perfect mint and/or cilantro chutney recipe and I'd be in heaven. All the times I've tried to make chutney, it's turned out kind of blah.
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Old 07-12-2010, 05:51 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by Turkeyman View Post
Thanks for all the input on the yogurt marinades. I couldn't wait -- I ended up making the chicken today =]. It turned out really flavorful. I made a few small changes based on what was available and how much I wanted to cook:

-I used about 10 chicken thighs
-I used a 7 oz tub of greek yogurt -- when I saw it in the store, it kind of called out to me as being the perfect size (it was 2% yogurt, I actually had trouble finding any kind of whole milk yogurt)
-I crushed 4 cloves of garlic, a 1/2 inch piece of ginger and 7 green chilies together with 1 tsp of kosher salt in my mortar and pestle, then added the whole thing to the tub of greek yogurt along with the other spices.
-I added a little more of the tandoori masala and the coriander as compared to the other spices.

Once again, it was really good -- thanks for the recipe Andy. It was definitely my nonfat yogurt messing things up. All I need now is the perfect mint and/or cilantro chutney recipe and I'd be in heaven. All the times I've tried to make chutney, it's turned out kind of blah.

Glad you liked it. I'm making it tonight too. I added ginger this time and increased the spices too.
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Old 08-07-2010, 10:11 PM   #13
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Exclamation Recipe Modification

As I mentioned earlier, I was working on boosting the flavor of this recipe. I have made it a couple of times and could not match the flavor of my neighbor's.

My neighbor who gave me the recipe I posted above came over and we made the marinade together. She was rather embarrassed by how far off she was in the measurements. I made the following recipe tonight and it's right on.

The traditional recipe includes ginger which I didn't use because my neighbor didn't use it. You could add a tablespoon of grated ginger.

Make sure you squeeze lime juice on the chicken before eating it. It really makes a difference.

This recipe is so easy and so good, it's a shame not to try it.

The heat can be managed by the number of chiles and the amount of chile powder.


TANDOORI CHICKEN

4 Ea Chicken Thighs
5-7 Cl Garlic
5-7 Ea Green Chilies
4 Ea Lime Juice
C Plain Yogurt
3 Tb Tandoori Chicken Masala
3 Tb Cumin Powder
TT Salt
1 Tb Coriander Powder
2 tsp Red Chile Powder
1 Tb Butter
2 Tb Cilantro, chopped

Trim excess fat from the thighs. The thighs may be cooked with or without the skin.

Make a paste of the garlic and green chilies

Combine the paste with the lime juice, yogurt, masala, cumin, salt, coriander and red chile powder.

Marinate the thighs in the marinade for 1-4 hours.

Grill the marinated chicken until done. There should be charring of the chicken from the grill. This is traditional.

For the last couple of minutes of cooking time, brush the chicken with melted butter.

Garnish with cilantro and serve with lime wedges.
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Old 08-07-2010, 10:55 PM   #14
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I'd really like to try this, but what kind of green chili's are we talking about Andy?
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Old 08-08-2010, 08:48 AM   #15
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Little ones. They're about 1.5-2 inches long and no thicker than a pencil. They're common in Indian/Asian cooking. You can find them in Asian/Indian markets and some supermarkets.
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Old 08-08-2010, 09:07 AM   #16
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For yogurt and buttermilk marinades I not only go 24 hours on the marinade, I butterfly the chicken breasts and bone the thighs to maximize the reactions.

Like Andy, I lightly shake off the pieces inside the bag, and put them right on the grill. I don't always get perfect grill marks, but the marinade seems to condense on the pieces (and get really tasty).

I'll be doing a similar recipe tomorrow!
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Old 08-08-2010, 09:19 AM   #17
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For yogurt and buttermilk marinades I not only go 24 hours on the marinade, I butterfly the chicken breasts and bone the thighs to maximize the reactions.

Like Andy, I lightly shake off the pieces inside the bag, and put them right on the grill. I don't always get perfect grill marks, but the marinade seems to condense on the pieces (and get really tasty).

I'll be doing a similar recipe tomorrow!
I doesn't bother me at all that I don't get grill marks. It tastes great!
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Old 08-08-2010, 09:54 AM   #18
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Little ones. They're about 1.5-2 inches long and no thicker than a pencil. They're common in Indian/Asian cooking. You can find them in Asian/Indian markets and some supermarkets.
Thanks Andy, I hope I can find them here. The term green chili's in these parts, are ones used in Mexican cooking. Do they have a name?
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Old 08-08-2010, 03:44 PM   #19
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I did not read this entire thread but I can post the recipe I use to make chicken tikka with a yogurt based marinade. I would not suggest using any tandoori ready mixes (dry or wet) because they taste blah and have absolutely no flavor.

Also chicken tikka uses a milder marinade than a tandoori chicken. Again my recipes are very traditional given I am Indian but I don't think it's extremely hard to find the ingredients that I listed below with the exception of saffron and cardamom but to me those are essential in making an authentic tikka.

Here is my recipe, you can give it a try if you feel like.

- 6 skinless boneless chicken breasts cut into chunks
- 2 cups middleeastern style yogurt. If you use dannon, I suggest, draining the water out of it by putting it in a cheese cloth or seive
- 1/2 cup of heavy cream
- 1/2 cup of cashews powdered
- 1 tbsp grated ginger
- 2 tsps ground cardamom
- couple of pinches of saffron - I like to heat mine in a microwave for 20 seconds, cool and crumble
- juice of 1 lime
- handful of cilantro chopped
- salt to taste

Mix the tikka with all these ingredients and let it marinate for 3-4 hours the refrigerator.

Remove skewer and grill. When done brush with some melted butter. Serve with two chutneys green and red.

To make green chutney - 1 bunch cilantro, handful of peanuts, 4 cloves of garlic, 1 jalapeno or green chili, 1 tbsp of lime juice, handful of mint leaves. Put them all in a food processor with a tiny bit of water and grind until thick.

To make red chutney - I use tamarind pulp (3 tbsp), pinch of freshly roasted and ground cumin seeds, brown sugar about 1/2 cup, pinch of red chili powder. Allow it all to cook for a few minutes. I add a pinch of red food color to this. Once all the flavors come together, adjust sweetness, let it cool and it's ready.

Again traditional tikkas are normally left a bit bland and the chutneys provide the sweet and heat.
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