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Here's a screenshot of what I'm talking about:

Chicken Tandoori

Look at this image. It's got a thick layer of spices on top of the chicken. Restaurants typically make such dishes with a thick, crispy, spicy layer that has a strong taste.

I'm trying to make this at home, but mine comes out with a very thin layer on the top. I tried making Chicken Tandoori using the standard recipe (marinate in yogurt for 4 hours and then roast). This is how it came out:

enter image description here

As you can see, the spicy, crispy layer at top is pretty thin with even bald patches. Does anyone know how can I make this layer thicker and more consistent?

Here is the recipe that I followed:

http://www.everestspices.com/tandoori-chicken-masala

Edit: I think that the problem is that I used an air fryer for making Tandoori Chicken. You cannot use an Air Fryer for Tandoori Chicken. You need to use a grill or fire. Perhaps someone else can confirm this.

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    You said 'fry', but tandoori chicken is usually roasted at a really high temperature. The dry heat helps to evaporate the moisture in the yogurt which I assume helps to make the crust. I also suspect that the type of yogurt has an affect, but I'm off dairy these days, so it's not something I'd be up for testing. – Joe Jan 11 at 14:11
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    Sorry. I meant roasted. I request everyone not to take my words too literally. Let me update that with roasted everywhere. Just like you mention, I too thought that the yogurt is going to end up in a crusty later. However, the yogurt completely "disappears" during the cooking. I suspect that these restaurant bastards are using some other ingredient in their recipes. I'll be danged if I can figure it out! – Mugen Jan 12 at 13:11
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    Not too mention the beautiful red colour. @Mugen – Alchimista Jan 14 at 10:39
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Restaurants usually make it on charcoal grill. I don't know the science but that does make a difference in achieving that look as well as taste. Use thicker yogurt with higher fat level, and keep the marinade thicker. I have been able to achieve that crusty layer by keeping my marinade thicker and using yogurt with at least 5% fat. Low fat yogurt usually results in thinner marinade.

For red color, you can use either red/deep orange food color or paprika. In south asian cuisine, we would often use something called 'Kashmiri red chilli powder' which is a mild chilli pepper but brings a gorgeous red color.

Edit: To add more from comments

The list of ingredients in the recipe you've linked is exactly what we usually use. There is no additional ingredient to that. Only the quality of ingredients and cooking technique will make difference in the results. I usually cook on a Gas mark 6. If you're washing the chicken and then using it straightaway, I find that it leaves the chicken too wet and it doesn't hold the marinade very well.

Also, if the chicken is a bit watery inside before marinating (like it becomes if left soaking in water for a while), it releases a lot of water during cooking which makes the marinade layer come off. I drain my chicken in a metal strainer for roughly 10-15 minutes before mixing in with the spices, regardless of frozen or not.

Similar happens with low-fat yogurt which is more liquidy and runny than high-fat yogurt. If you do have to use low fat yogurt, try straining it like the recipes asks for thick strained curd. By straining you're removing the liquid which will help the marinade to stick together well. Greek yogurt will also work.

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    I don't think it's just the fat in the curd. In my screenshot there are bald patches. When I actually put the chicken in the air fryer it had a very very thick layer of curd on top. After the frying all that curd got reduced to a very thin layer that slipped off. There is a different ingredient that is missing in that recipe link that I provided. – Mugen Jan 14 at 14:15
  • Thanks for suggesting about the Kashmiri red chillies. Yes, I did use that. – Mugen Jan 14 at 14:16
  • You used the exact same recipe? I find it very hard to understand why I got such different results. I cooked it at 200 Celsius in an Air Fryer. I might have cooked it totally for 15-20 minutes. I don't remember the exact minute. However, I do remember that the layer on top was not crispy at all. In fact, it was kind of like scrambled eggs. Also, when I tried sniffing it then the chicken smell was way more dominating rather than the smell of the spices. I am a 100% sure that this chicken hadn't gone bad. It smelled and looked absolutely fine before and after the marination. – Mugen Jan 15 at 12:11
  • I marinated the chicken for about 3 hours. The curd was thick too. I defrosted the frozen chicken breasts using the refrigerator method - 24 hours. I didn't wash the chicken BTW. I just opened the bag in which the frozen chicken came, made the slits, and then transferred the chicken into the marinade bowl where I mixed everything thoroughly. Although, I don't think that not washing the chicken should make any difference on the crispiness. Not sure whether that is what caused the strong smell overall. I'm not sure about whether the chicken was watery inside. Do we need to release the water – Mugen Jan 15 at 12:14
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    Thank you for answering! I tried this out and it worked wonders! For everyone else who hasn't tried this, you need to strain curd for 15 mins and then use that thick leftover. "Hung curd" it's called. This creates a way more delicious and crusty exterior than ordinary curd. I tried it out and my tandoori chicken came out almost like a professional chef! :) – Mugen Jan 24 at 6:06

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