I don’t own a tandoor oven. You probably don’t have a tandoor oven. Good news, your background charcoal or wood pellet grill will work just fine. Inspired by tandoori chicken, a well-known Indian dish, these grilled, curried quail make delicious appetizers or finger food. Thanks to the flavorful yogurt marinade, the birds come off the grill tender and juicy.
If you’ve had the Indian dish before, you might wonder about the lack of red coloring on my quail. Tandoori chicken’s signature bright red color is usually achieved by food coloring, although bolder recipes might get their color from generous amounts of cayenne and red chili powder. I skipped the food coloring and the screaming hot peppers — you’re welcome. The teensy amount of cayenne pepper is adjustable.
Turmeric stains, so be aware.
Prep Time: 4 hours
Cooking Time: 10-15 minutes
• 8 whole quail, skin on
• 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil, plus extra
• ½ teaspoon of coriander
• ½ teaspoon of turmeric
• ½ teaspoon of cumin
• ½ teaspoon of cayenne pepper
• 1 teaspoon of onion powder
• 1 tablespoon of sweet paprika
• 2 teaspoons of garam masala powder
• Juice of half a lemon
• 3 cloves of garlic, minced
• 2 inches of ginger, peeled and minced
• 1 teaspoon of kosher salt
• ¾ cup of plain yogurt
1. Cut open each quail down the back with kitchen shears. With breast side up, press down with the palm of your hand to break the wishbone and to flatten birds.
2. Whisk together the remaining ingredients in a non-reactive bowl. Add the quail to the marinade and coat each bird. Cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight.
3. One hour prior to grilling, remove birds from the refrigerator. When ready to cook, prepare grill for medium-high heat cooking.
4. Brush hot grates with oil. Remove quail from marinade, shaking off excess. Grill until birds become golden, slightly charred and cooked through, about 5-7 minutes on each side. Serve hot.
Photographed are blistered shishito peppers tossed with olive oil and kosher salt.