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Best Tandoori Chicken Recipes

Best Tandoori Chicken Recipes

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Tandoori Chicken Shopping Tips

When buying chicken, make sure to ask for it to be placed in a separate plastic bag, to minimize the risk of cross-contamination.

Tandoori Chicken Cooking Tips

Allow meat to rest for at least ten minutes before slicing into it; otherwise, the juices will leak out.

Wine Pairing

Pinot noir, gamay, merlot, zinfandel, carménère, pinotage, or grenache with grilled, roasted, or other simply cooked chicken; chardonnay, pinot gris/grigio, pinot blanc, or chenin blanc with chicken in cream or light tomato sauce or with chicken crêpes or croquettes; sauvignon blanc or sémillon with fried chicken; viognier with spiced chicken dishes.


Here you will find information on tandoor clay ovens and a delightful tandoori chicken recipe, which I first made in one of my cooking classes in the early 1980’s.

Tandoor Oven Described

If made authentically in India, this chicken dish (which originated in the Punjabi region of the Indian subcontinent) is cooked in the bell-shaped tandoor clay oven this oven is also used to make the Indian flatbread naan. This is a cylindrical clay oven, which sets in the earth and is fired with wood or charcoal it may also rest above the ground. 1

Where the Tandoor Oven Is Used and Its Origins

The tandoor oven is used for cooking in the following Asian regions: Southern Asia (including India), Central Asia (including some former Soviet republics), and Western Asia (thirteen of the twenty countries-fully or partly located here-are of the Arab world) and the South Caucasus. 2

In India and Pakistan, tandoori cooking became popular, when the Punjabis (from the northern part of the Indian subcontinent) embraced their traditional tandoori cooking on a regional level this can be seen, after the 1947 partition, when Punjabi Sikhs and Hindus resettled in such places as Delhi. Therefore, Indians and Pakistanis traditionally associate the tandoor with the Punjabis. 3

In Azerbaijan, the tandoor oven is called a tandir, while in Armenia, it is known as a tonir, which is underground here. 4

How a Tandoor Oven Works

Burning grasses, charcoal, or wood produces the heat in the traditional tandoor oven. Smaller electric tandoors, however, are found in some homes, especially in America larger electrical tandoors are used commercially (see for purchasing).

These fires within the traditional, cylindrical ovens produce a combination of live fire cooking, radiant heat cooking and hot-air, convection cooking, as well as smoking-caused by the fat dripping on the charcoal or wood. The temperatures soar to 900 degrees F (480 degrees C) these temperatures are maintained, by the fires left burning for long periods of time. 5

The tandoor design makes the transition between a makeshift earth oven and the horizontal-plan masonry oven. Earth ovens were communal long ago, being pits dug in the ground with smoldering wood, cooking all the family’s meals within the community. These earth ovens were eventually lifted out of the ground, and with time, they became masonry-brick or stone-ovens. Initially in Asia, they, however, transitioned into the tandoor ovens, which being made smaller were used by individual families. In this way, the tandoor was created, using grasses and wood to generate the heat to cook meat and vegetables within, while flatbreads were slapped directly on the hot clay walls. 6

The heat within a tandoor is generated, by a convection current created inside, as cold air is taken in through a hole at the bottom of the tandoor. As the cold air hits the fire, it warms up, and becomes less dense, circulating up inside the cylinder. The air previously at the top has cooled down some, and it falls back to the fire. This convection heat is energy transferred through currents, or in this case air currents. In turn, a process known as radiation takes place, with the clay of the oven slowly beginning to absorb and emit some of this ambient, circulating, insulated heat. 7

Etymology of the Word Tandoor

According to Wikipedia, the English tandoor comes from Hindi/Urdu tandur, which in turn comes from Persian tanur all these names mean (clay) oven. The Dehkhoda Persian Dictionary states that this Persian word was derived from the Akkadian word tinuru, and that this word tinuru consists of the parts tin, or mud, and nuro/nura, meaning fire. 8

Making Your Own Tandoori Oven

There are numerous versions for making your own tandoor oven found on YouTube. Primitive Life Reborn has a great video on how to make a primitive, mud tandoor-see A less traditional, but easier design, is given at

Background of My Recipe

My original 1980’s receipt included red food coloring, as the spicy hot tandoori chicken in Southern, Central, and Western Asia was reddish in color, due to the abundant spices in it (cayenne pepper, red chili powder, etc.). Along with the optional food coloring, my milder recipe from the early eighties, included instructions for the barbecuing, broiling, or baking of the poultry, as tandoors were not in abundance in the U.S. back then, as they are today.

In America, “Indian summer” meals are highlighted with barbecues you may, however, have this prized electric appliance in your home, or even a home-made tandoori oven, thus providing the option of making this receipt the traditional way. If not, try barbequing, broiling, or in a pinch, baking it-all these instructions are below.

Applied Lesson

A few of the restrictions brought on by Covid-19 may seem to have settled some. Back in the spring, life appeared to be drastically changed, but now things may no longer appear to be ‘hot as an oven’-and tandoori ovens get up to 900 degrees F (480 degrees C).

A semblance of order seems to have been restored, since the early March outbreak of this virus and all its complications. Nevertheless, we take nothing for granted, but remain alert. The word of God instructs us:

“Be sober, be vigilant because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: Whom resist steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world.” 1 Peter 5: 8, 9. (King James Bible)

To be sober is to be clear-headed, or alert, while vigilance requires circumspection, or being cautious about what we say or do.

We know that our thoughts form the basis of our spoken words and actions thus, it is imperative that we tend to our thought life carefully. If we do not, we can unknowingly give Satan access to come into our lives with his destructive ways this can take place as we let our thoughts play out in words and actions that inadvertently lead to damage.

Through his mercy and grace, our Redeemer Jesus aids us in this, when we ask him to therefore, we do not mistakenly commit sins of ignorance, or worse yet those of commission, which have consequences of destruction in the natural.

In this way, hell’s heat cannot touch us!

Enjoy my hot-from-the-oven tandoori chicken recipe below.

Tandoori Chicken Yields: 6 servings. Active prep time: 1 hr/ Cooking time: 30 min/ Inactive prep time for marinating: 9 1/2 hr.

6 thigh/leg parts (Our local Fred Meyer sells seasoned thigh/leg pieces at the meat counter, but you will want to ask for unseasoned ones, for $1.29/lb. They also carry a pre-packaged Heritage Brand, with 4-5 pieces in a package for $1.09/lb.)

2 tbsp lemon juice, divided

8 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped fine

2 tbsp grated fresh ginger

1 tsp ground cardamom, or 1 1/2 tsp seeds

1/3 tsp ground cumin, or 1/2 tsp seeds

1 tsp red food coloring, optional

2 c plain, whole milk yogurt (I prefer Sierra Nevada Grass-fed, Whole Milk Yogurt, as it is thick, rich, and most healthy another option is plain Greek yogurt.)

Expert tips:

Use boneless, skinless chicken thighs for moist, tender cooked tandoori chicken.

Greek yogurt makes a thick marinade. If you are using regular yogurt, then try using thick variety.

I will highly recommend using kasoori methito make an authentic tandoori chicken in oven. However, look for substitute in the recipe notes.

Tandoori chicken REQUIRES the overnight marination for all the flavors to infuse into the chicken. Do not try to cut short the marination time.

This recipe is great on the outdoor grill. Follow the instructions below to grill-

  1. Make authentic tandoori chicken marinade. Marinade chicken (follow the recipe)
  2. Preheat grill to medium-high heat (about 400°F to 425°F)
  3. Brush grill grates with oil.
  4. Place the chicken on the grill over direct heat and cook undisturbed for about 5 minutes. Flip the chicken and grill until the second side is browned, 5 minutes more, or until cooked through and internal temperature is at least 165F.
  5. Remove from grill and set aside, covered, for 5 minutes.

To make ahead &ndash Leftover cooked and cooled tandoori chicken can be refrigerated for up to 4 days or frozen in a zip lock bag.

Serving instructions?

Frequently asked questions:

Tandoori chicken is originally made with ground deep red hued chilly pepper which gave the iconic reddish orange color. However, orange/red food color along with the red pepper are more commonly used in present times.

Tandoori chicken is one of the healthy chicken preparations, since it is marinated with an array of spices along with yogurt & lime juice and cooked in a tandoori oven or grill. It is very low in fat.

Chicken tikka is cut up smaller pieces of boneless chicken threaded into a skewer and then cooked over a charcoal grill or in oven. Whereas, tandoori chicken is made with large chunks of chicken (with or without bones).

Recipe Summary

  • 2 (6 ounce) containers plain yogurt
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon ground cloves
  • 2 tablespoons freshly grated ginger
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 teaspoons paprika
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 16 chicken thighs
  • olive oil spray

In a medium bowl, stir together yogurt, salt, pepper, cloves, and ginger. Mix in garlic, paprika, cumin, cinnamon, and coriander. Set aside.

Rinse chicken under cold water, and pat dry with paper towels. Place chicken in a large resealable plastic bag. Pour yogurt mixture over chicken, press air out of bag, and seal. Turn the bag over several times to distribute marinade. Place bag in a bowl, and refrigerate 8 hours, or overnight, turning bag occasionally.

Preheat an outdoor grill for direct medium heat.

Remove chicken from bag, and discard marinade. With paper towels, wipe off excess marinade. Spray chicken pieces with olive oil spray.

Place chicken on the grill, and cook about 2 minutes. Turn, and cook 2 minutes more. Then arrange the chicken to receive indirect heat, and cook approximately 35 to 40 minutes, to an internal temperature of 180 degrees F.

Tandoori Chicken

This Tandoori Chicken Recipe was originally published in our cook book “Savoring the Seasons.” I developed the recipe especially for that book and honestly I haven’t made it in years! But lately I have been hearing from so many people that it is one of their family’s favorites so I figured it was time to whip it up again at home and share it here on the blog. This is an Indian style dish and what makes it a little different is that the marinade is yogurt based. Yogurt is a natural tenderizer so it produces a really flavorful chicken that is tender and juicy. Tandoori chicken pairs perfectly with the Indian Style Turmeric Rice I shared on Friday! You can find that recipe, here.

You’ll need some plain Green yogurt and a variety of seasonings for the marinade.

We’ve got some fresh onion, paprika, garlic, turmeric….it just gets zipped up in the blender.

And then you’ll pour it over some boneless, skinless chicken thighs to marinate. Do not make this recipe with boneless skinless chicken breasts, it won’t work well with this type of recipe- trust me with the thighs! It’s also best to marinate this overnight, if you’ve only got a few hours, I wouldn’t recommend it.

When the chicken comes out of the marinade it’s a little thick because it’s yogurt. Make sure your grill is hot, and greased, to avoid messes.

I also experimented with cooking it in a cast iron pan on my grill (or you could do stovetop) and it worked great. I just drizzled in a little olive oil and I actually loved how the sauce cooked in the pan and left really flavorful little bits in there, so that’s an option as well.

I like to serve this over the Indian Turmeric Rice with a simple vegetable side, like grilled asparagus.

It’s a light, but filling dinner that my whole family loves! Try it out and let me know what you think!

The Best Tandoori Chicken

Oven-Baked Tandoori Chicken recipe |

Tandoori chicken is an Indian restaurant fave, but all-too-often equates to dry, overcooked chicken, tinted with red food colouring to bear an unnaturally vibrant hue.

Here, I bring you juicy, incredibly-flavourful spicy chicken drumsticks, charred in spots and irresistibly messy. SERIOUSLY, seriously yummy.

Oven-Baked Tandoori Chicken recipe |

The longer you marinate them, the more flavourful they’ll be – I recommend putting it together the night before, or at least in the morning before you plan to cook them.

I lift the skin gently and force the yogurt-spice mixture underneath (because yum, crispy chicken skin), but the more authentic way would be to remove the skin and create deep gashes in the meat before marinating. Your call.

Oven-Baked Tandoori Chicken recipe |

Bake them until cooked through, then turn on the broiler for a few minutes to get that authentic, wonderful char you’d get in a super-hot tandoor oven.

Serve with basmati rice, this yogurt cucumber salad, and warm, homemade naan.

Oven-Baked Tandoori Chicken recipe |

How to make it

The making part is very straight forward: mix marinate, add the chicken, then leave to marinate. 12 to 24 hours is best, or 48 hours. If you’re in a rush, then 2 to 3 hours will do the trick if you cut slashes into the chicken.

While this is a baked tandoori chicken recipe, it’s a ripper on the barbie too. And off the charts amazing if cooked over charcoal!

Pakistani Tandoori Chicken

Tandoori Chicken is probably one the most loved Pakistani BBQ items. I remember those late summer nights back in Pakistan when my dinner was only a good juicy tandoori chicken from Ambala foods. I would wait in the car outside the storefront with my sisters and watch the guy in his sweaty kurta effortlessly flip the birds on the grill often with tongs, but sometimes with his bare hands. The hot to-go container exudes that strong, charred smell mingled with the most aromatic blend of Pakistani spices that instantly makes your mouth water. It hits your nostrils so hard you almost start crying. OK, maybe not. But you know where I’m headed, don’t you?

Now I’m 8000 miles away trying to replicate those flavors and smells of those nights back home when dinner was a family affair and meals were always taken at the table. Now I chow down everything right at the counter. But let me tell you I come so darn close to the restaurant-quality tandoori chicken that my brother (and yes, yet again I’m treating my brother’s word like it’s the holy word) said that I outdid myself with the roast! And because I make it in the oven, I’m not wasting time getting a grill going (I’d love to only if I had one). I give this Tandoori Chicken that smoky punch that we know a good tandoori chicken must have by placing a lit charcoal in the center of large pan, surrounding it with the oven-baked chicken, and finally “anointing” that coal with some vegetable oil. This is where the magic happens. As soon as the trickle of oil hits the burning coal, the smoke that materializes will seep into the chicken. So, pop the lid on and let the smoke penetrate and flavor the chicken. This Tandoori chicken with my Seekh Kebab is a duo that cannot be beat!

Place chicken breasts in a crockpot and top with 1 1/2 tsp onion powder, 1 1/2 tsp garlic powder, 1 tsp sea salt, and 1/2 tsp pepper. Cook on low for 4-6 hours or on high for 2-3 hours. Shred when cooked through.

Mix sauce ingredients together.

Place shredded chicken in a pot and pour the sauce over, mix thoroughly and turn the burner up on high. Sear the mixture for a few minutes. This enhances the smokey flavors from the sauce and melds the sauce and chicken together well.

Serve over basmati rice and top with scallions and cilantro. Ryan likes to make a wrap with his from a burrito shell, taco sauce, rice, and American cheese.

Trying this recipe? Let me know what you think and what tweaks you made to make it fit your tastes.