Thursday, March 15, 2012

Easy Tandoori Chicken

We have such good weather here in the State we presently reside in. It's grilling season all year long,  but for a few months of extreme heat where I could actually grill on a sidewalk. So, yesterday that's what we did, no, not the sidewalk part, the grill part : tandoori chicken on a grill.

This spice- cloaked chicken is one of the most popular foods in the world.  Inherently Indian, it has some impressionable Pakistani and Afghani roots. And with global fame, this South Asian original became a  universally appealing delightNot only is it a feast for the eyes, beautiful- orange/ red, charred skin, but it is probably one of the most taste- filled chicken preparations your palate will ever know.
Tandoori, the Eastern version of the barbecue, is a method of open fire cooking traditionally done in a  tandoor or clay oven. Tandoori chicken is marinaded chicken cooked over this high flame tandoor. Since the majority of us have not in our possession clay domes as home cooking appliances, you can get similar high temperature results using either a grill or your kitchen oven.
The marinade is key in getting the spices to permeate throughout the meat, so every bite ensures good and even flavor. Tandoori masala is the master ingredient in making that marinade. Balanced with yogurt and combined with a few other ingredients, the masala is the ideal combination of spice powders for flavor coating. It can range heat-wise from mildly moderate to fire breathing intensity, depending on  the audience you're cooking for or the tastes of the person cooking it. 
Many good, pre-made tandoori masalas can be bought at Indian specialty grocers or even local groceries now, but nothing beats a good homemade mix. 

If you have never tried your hand at tandoori chicken, I urge you to just do it. And if you're already familiar with a recipe, try this one, you might find you like it better.

  • 2 tsp vegetable oil
  • 3- 4 (depending on your level of spice) tbsp tandoori masala (recipe below)
  • 1 cup thick plain yogurt (drain or blot out excess moisture using doubled paper towels)
  • juice of half a lemon
  • 1/2 cup of chopped cilantro
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 2 tbsp chopped  ginger
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 lbs bone- in skinless chicken legs( mix of drumstick and/or thighs), scored lightly on each side with a few 1 inch shallow cuts 
  • Blend or process all the ingredients from oil to salt, till smooth.
  • Combine marinade mixture in a large bowl with chicken. 
  • Cover and refrigerate marinaded pieces for at least 2 hours upto to 12.

Tandoor masala:
  • 3 tbsp coriander powder
  • 2 tbsp cumin
  • 1-2 tbsp red chili powder or cayenne ( adjust this for heat)
  • 1  tsp turmeric
  • 1 tbsp black pepper
  • *1/2 tsp methi powder 
  • *1 tsp garam masala
Sift together or shake in a closed container. Excess masala can be stored and reused.
Grill Option:
  • Using  cooking spray, lightly coat the grill grates or brush with oil.
  • Heat your grill, having the flames/ more heat on one side and less on the other.
  • Remove the chicken out of marinade (shaking off excess marinade).
  • Cook pieces on high heat side, 8-10 minutes per side or until charred.
  • Put pieces onto less heated side and cover, cook for 25-45 minutes, until juices run clear when chicken is pierced.
 Oven Option:
  • Preheat oven to 370°F 
  • Place marinaded chicken pieces on lined baking tray, coated with cooking spray or oil.
  • Bake for 20- 25 minutes, or until until juices are clear when meat is pierced.
  • Turn oven to broil (You might want to take out chicken until oven gets heated)
  • Put chicken pieces on where the unexposed side is now facing upwards.
  • Broil till lightly charred, 5- 10 minutes (be careful not to overdo, "charred" does not mean burnt)
Methi powder is dried fenugreek powder.

McCormick's gourmet collection carries garam masala.

Random fact -Tandoori chicken was served to both Richard Nixon and John F. Kennedy during State visits to New Delhi.

The pictures were taken after dinner, bad choice, since I didn't have as many pretty pieces to shoot.

" But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. 
 They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint." Is. 40:31



  1. First time to your beautiful blog...Tandoori chicken looks perfect. Following uuuuuuuu

  2. Thanks, Tina for the very sweet and encouraging words !

  3. Tandoori chicken looks so tempting. Loved the mix of spices.

  4. Thank you Rinku, the spices make it :))

  5. Hi Tisa, I was given a clay cone shaped oven pot (from IKEA) for my birthday and wonder if this is the type food to cook in it? Have you seen this type of cook wear before? The cone top is made of cast iron, I believe. Blessings...Colette @

    1. Hi Colette, I'm not sure of pot you're talking about exactly, it sounds like a tagine- a Moroccan cone shaped cook and serve, with thick cone walls- used to slow simmer stews . As for the tandoor, I don't know if you can get one that small, but the oven and grill will work fine for this recipe. Hope that helps :))

    2. Hi Tisa,
      Thanks for the easy tandoori chicken recipe. I'm going to try now. btw, can I add curry leaves to the tandoori masala ?

    3. You can customize it that way Mark, by adding crushed curry leaves to the masala. It's not an original ingredient, but I'm sure it will be good :))


Thanks for sharing your thoughts with me!