Oven Recipes: Tandoori Chicken and Naan Bread

IMG_1725Tandoori chicken has to be one of the most popular Indian dishes, and while making it at home is fairly straight forward, recreating that authentic flavour you get from an Indian restaurant can be difficult to achieve in the home kitchen. This is because the best tandoori chicken is cooked in a tandoor – essentially a very hot clay oven. Tandoor’s produce chicken that is moist on the inside and slightly charred on the outside. What’s true for tandoori chicken is also true for tandoor baked naan bread, the most delicious of which are soft and chewy inside but with a slightly blackened, blistered surface. Tandoors are essentially vertical clay ovens and so it’ll probably be no surprise to learn that our traditional clay/pizza ovens are excellent at producing authentic flavoured tandoori chicken and naan breads. This has to be one of my favourite recipes. The following method shows you how to make it

Tandoori Chicken (Serves 4)

1 whole chicken, jointed into eight pieces, or 1.5kg chicken pieces (legs, thighs, wings etc.) skinned

Marinade One
Juice of 2 limes
1tsp chilli powder
1 tsp sea salt

Marinade Two
100g natural yoghurt
4 cloves garlic, chopped
5cm piece of ginger, chopped
1tsp Garam masala
1tsp turmeric
1tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp of beetroot powder or natural red food colouring

Mix the ingredients for marinade one into a large bowl. Add the chicken pieces and rub with the marinade. Cover with clingfilm and leave in fridge for 1 hour.

Put the marinade two ingredients into a food processor (the mini versions are good) and blitz to a smooth paste. Add to the chicken and stir well to coat. Cover and return to fridge for at least 4 hours.

Next prepare your naan breads.

Naan Bread (Makes 6)

200g plain flour
100g strong white flour
1 tsp sugar
1.5 tsp dried yeast
1 tsp sea salt
100ml milk
100ml water
4 tbsp natural yoghurt
2 tbsp melted ghee (or butter)

Mix the dry ingredients into a large mixing bowl (or the bowl of your mixer with a bread hook, if you have one). Warm the milk and water together in a pan until blood temperature (approx. 40°C). Add the yoghurt and melted ghee to the dry ingredients, followed by the milk/water mixture. Mix together until you form a soft dough (add a little more water if you need to). Knead for 5 minutes, either in your mixer or on a floured surface, until smooth. Return to a clean bowl, cover and leave somewhere warm for 1 hour until it has doubled in size. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for a few more minutes. Cut the dough into 6 even sized pieces, roll into balls and cover again until ready to bake.

Fire your oven to full temperature (this can take an hour or more so calculate the timings carefully between firing the oven and preparing the food). Allow temperature to drop to around 300°C. Keep fire burning but clear a space for a large roasting tin.

Roasting the chicken

Place the marinated chicken pieces onto a wire rack and then put this into a large roasting tin (ideally the former should fit inside the latter). Add a small cup of water to the bottom of the tin and cover with foil (the water produces steam which helps keep the chicken moist). Place the roasting tin into your oven. You should soon hear the chicken start to sizzle. Check the chicken after 20 minutes, it should be cooking nicely but not charred. Remove the foil and put the roasting tin back into your oven for another 10-15 minutes. The heat from your oven should begin to char the chicken – be careful not to overdo it! Make sure the chicken is cooked through and cover again with foil to rest while you bake the naan breads.

Baking the naan breads

Roll each dough ball into a tear shape. They should be approximately 3-5mm thick. I like to cook my naan breads on the brick floor of my oven, so at this stage I clear a space using a wire brush. If you prefer, you can cook the breads on a metal baking tray or cast iron skillet – remember to pop them into the oven though first so they get nice and hot. Your oven should be around the 250 – 220°C mark. Place the rolled dough into the oven and watch it carefully. With any luck it will begin to inflate, rather like a balloon. You should also see it begin to scorch a little. Once you are happy it is done, brush it with some melted ghee or butter, place on a warmed plate and cover with foil while you cook the rest of the batch.

Squeeze chicken with lemon juice and serve with a naan and some salad (and a cold beer). Delicious!


No need to Knead

No-knead pizza

Here’s a thing. A recipe for no-knead pizza dough from New York baker Jim Lahey who is renowned for his no-knead bread recipes. Now, to be honest I have not tried this technique which requires the dough to be left to prove for a long time (18 hours or so) at a constant room temperature. Partly I think, can I be really bothered to wait that long when pizza dough normally only takes 15 minutes or so of kneading anyway?  It’s hardly overly demanding! However, it is said that doughs made in this way have a deeper flavour (and better crumb and crust if you are making bread). I’m all in favour of slow food so maybe it’s worth a go.

Here’s the link to Jim’s recipe. What do you think?


Happy waiting.


Perfect Pizzas in a Sicilian Wood-fired Pizza Oven

I was lucky enough to holiday on the beautiful island of Sicily this August. Mrs B and I stayed in a gorgeous little villa (a casa) just outside the small town of Giaratana which is in the SE of the island. When we arrived I was doubly excited to find out that the casa had its own commercial, wood-fired pizza oven. So, when in Rome….I just had to fire it up to make some gorgeous crispy pizzas and I can tell you, I was not disappointed. The oven was fantastic and the pizzas sublime. I also filmed the whole process so here is that video. Buon Appetito!!


The following is an excerpt from my upcoming book, Cooking in a Clay Oven. I hope you enjoy it.


The finished product - a delicious roast chicken

The finished product - a delicious roast chicken.


Who doesn’t love roast chicken when it is succulent, moist and has a brown, crispy skin? As with other meat, a chicken roasts exceptionally well in a clay oven. It’s not rocket science, and I don’t mean to teach your granny to suck eggs, but follow this simple, no-nonsense recipe and you’ll have a delicious chicken feast every time. You can substitute the bay leaves for thyme, rosemary or any woody herb which takes your fancy. The one key ingredient for success is a good chicken- it has to be free-range and organic if you can. Don’t compromise on this. If you are going to all this trouble, make it worth your while!


  • To prepare and fire oven – 2hrs
  • For oven to cool to cooking temperature – 30-40 mins.
  • To cook – 1hr 30 mins. (depending on chicken size)


1 large free-range, organic chicken
1 lemon , cut in half
1 whole head garlic , cut in half along the middle
1 bunch fresh bay leaves
Sea salt (I prefer Maldon)
Freshly ground black pepper
Extra-virgin olive oil


  • If your chicken has been refrigerated, take it out at least an hour (preferably two) before you are ready to put it in the oven (this is a good tip for any meat actually). Pat the skin dry.
  • Grate the zest from the lemon and sprinkle it over the outside skin of the chicken.
  • Cut the lemon in half and stuff it inside the bird’s cavity.
  • Cut the garlic bulb in half around the equator (unpeeled) and whack half of it in the cavity with the lemon.
  • Take some stems of bay leaf (with leaves attached of course) and push them into the chicken cavity also. You can substitute any woody herb at this stage if you prefer.
  • In the bottom of a roasting tray lay some more stems of bay leaf and place the chicken on top.
  • Separate the rest of the garlic into cloves and scatter them, unpeeled, around the chicken in the tray.
  • Pour a good slosh of olive oil over the bird and season with salt and pepper.


  • Prepare your oven for roasting following the guidance in Chapter 2 (if you are reading this on the blog, fire for approximately two hrs before spreading the hot embers across the oven floor – you will be roasting in an oven without a fire using the heat radiated from the oven walls and floor for cooking).
  • Keep an eye on the thermometer. Once the temperature has dropped to around 230°C, clear the ash and embers to one side and then slide the roasting tray into the centre of the oven.
  • We don’t want to cook the chicken for too long at this temperature, the outside would burn and it would not cook through properly, so leave the chimney and entrance open for a little longer.
  • Once the temperature has dropped to around 210°C (it won’t take long) block your oven chimney and entrance. This should reduce the rate at which the oven loses heat for the remaining duration of the roast.
  • Poor yourself a beer and wait.
  • Check the bird after about 1hr 30 mins (a very small chicken may need less). Cut down between the leg and the body (right into the leg joint) and make sure the meat is not pink and that any juices run clear. If it’s not ready, pop it back in the oven for a while.
  • Once you are happy that the chicken is cooked to perfection, take it out of the oven and let it rest for 10 minutes or so (this is important because it allows the juices to be sucked back into the flesh of the chicken).
  • Carve and serve with your favourite roast veg, greens and don’t forget the gravy.

You are allowed to be smug when you eat this. Enjoy. Cheers!

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A Perfect Slow Pork Roast for a Lazy Sunday Afternoon

This weekend I finally got around to lighting the oven for the first time this year. To celebrate I decided to slow roast a shoulder joint of  pork and I videoed the whole process so that you can see what was involved.

The video is a 20 minute epic so I have split it into two parts in order to squeeze it into YouTube.  You might need headphones to hear all of the commentary.  Enjoy!

Part One

Part Two