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Tandoori Chicken – Made at Home

Tandoori chicken has a  fan  following  in  the  Indian  subcontinent  as  well as  many other  parts  of  the  world , and  rightfully so too .  This   appetizing   chicken  preparation is  pleasing  to the  eye  and  the  palette.   Chicken is  marinated  in  yogurt  and   spices   and  cooked  in the  clay ovens  called   Tandoor   resulting  in a  juicy ,  flavorful  and  light  chicken   dish that  is  enjoyed  by  both  adults  and  kids  a like .
Tandoori Chicken
This is  a  popular  dish in  many restaurants serving Indian Fare.   Tandoori chicken  masala is  readily  available  in stores or  online.   To get  the  appealing  red color  most  commercial brands  resort to food color . As  much as  my family  loves  juicy  tender  chicken , I  balk  at the  thought  of   feeding  them  bottles  of   food  coloring and other additives.  These juicy,   tender ,  flavorful  chicken  can be   made  right  in   the  home  oven   without much  effort  ,  and   without  the use of  synthetic  dyes.

I marinate the chicken in 2 steps.   The   first   step is  to  tenderize the  meat  and  make it  more  friendly to the  spices .  This  involves  lemon  juice   salt  and  a  dash of  ginger .  Clean  the  chicken  and  make  a few  deep gashes on it .  Rub  this  marinade  all over the  chicken  pieces  and  set  aside   for  10 minutes.

While   the  1st  marinade  is  doing  the  heavy lifting ,  prepare   the   second  marinade. Start  with thick  yogurt ,  Greek yogurt  works  well .  If  you don’t have   Greek yogurt,  line a  strainer   with muslin or  few layers of  cheese cloth   and  let  the  regular yogurt  strain  for  about 1 hour. Mix   thick yogurt   with  cayenne , paprika , annato (optional), garam  masala ,  cumin powder, ginger  and  garlic .  I strongly recommend  using   fresh  ginger  and  garlic .   Use a  micro plane  or  grater  to   grate  these  or  mortar  and  pestle  to   crush  it  fine .  No store bought paste  can  come  close  to   fresh  ginger and   garlic .   Rub  this mix   all over  the   chicken  and  cover  and  refrigerate  for  at  least   an  hour , up to 6  hours .

A word on Annato : 
Annato is  derived from the  seeds of  achiote . It is  used as a  spice  and  coloring  agent  in many Latin American  countries. The  flavor is  mild  and  it  imparts a  red  or  orange red  color  to food.

Making Tandoori Chicken

When   ready to cook   take  out  the  meat  from the   refrigerator  Preheat  the oven to 500°F  or  as  high  as it  can  go .  Wait  for a  few  minutes  even  after  the   oven  thermometer  has   reached  the   desired temperature .   Place a  wire rack  over a  sheet pan or line a  sheet pan  with  with  aluminum  foil  and   lightly spray some  oil .  Rub the  excess marinade   from the  chicken  pieces  and  arrange  them  on  the  at least 1 inch apart.

After  20 minutes   remove  from  the  oven and   baste   the  tops lightly with  oil/melted  ghee .   Turn the  pieces, if  looks dry  baste with oil. Return  to the oven for 10 to 15 more  minutes.  Keep an eye on them  to prevent  burning . Remove  from the  oven , and  cover  and  let  it  rest  for 10  minutes .  Serve  with  lemon and  onions .

Notes :

  • The  recipe  here   is  usually  sufficient  for 2 lbs / 1 kg  of   chicken pieces .
  • Though  the   home  ovens  do not   produce  as  high  heat  as  the tandoor ,  the   resulting   chicken  will be  fully cooked   through and  moist .
  • This  recipe is  very versatile   and I always  cook  some  chicken  breast   along   with  thigh  and  leg pieces .  These  are  later  cup and  used  in  other   dishes like  curries  ,  pizzas ,  sandwiches , or  salads .
  • Longer  marinades   do not   make  the  meat  tender . In fact   after sometime the  acidity  start  breaking  down  the  protein  destroying  its  ability to retain  moisture .
  • I  would not   recommend   keeping  the   chicken marinated   for  over  24  hours .  If  you have to     then  use  only  second marinade  and  add  the   1  tsp  more salt   to it .

Finally  a  word  of  caution –   if  making  these  indoors  make  sure  that  the  house  is  well ventilated and  turn  the  exhaust  fans  on . Since  the  oven  is  on  the  highest  for  some time  chances  are  that  any crumbs/ splatter   in the  oven   will burn and  create  smoke.

Tandoori Chicken

Tandoori  Chicken

By Syama
Chicken is  marinated in  a  blend  of  yogurt, lime  juice  and  spices.  It is  baked in a  high  heat  environment  (tandoor or  hot  oven) . The  resulting  chicken is tender and  moist 
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Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 2 hours
Course Appetizer
Cuisine Indian


  • 2 lbs Chicken Pieces (1 Kg ) skinless , bone in

1st Marinate

  • 4 Tbsp Lemon Juice
  • 1 Tsp Salt
  • 1 Tsp Grated Ginger

2nd Marinate

  • 1/4 C Thick Yogurt
  • 1 Tsp Cayenne Optional
  • 2 Tsp Paprika
  • or
  • 1 Tsp Annato
  • 1 Tsp Garam Masala
  • 1 Tsp Cumin Toast and Powder
  • 2 Cloves Garlic Grated
  • 1 Inch Fresh Ginger 1 Tbsp grated
  • 1 - 1 1/2 Tsp Salt To taste

To Baste

  • 2 Tbsp Oil/Ghee

To Serve

  • Lemon Wedges
  • Sliced Onion
  • Cilantro


Prepare Chicken

  • Clean and trim the chicken pieces . Using a sharp knife make couple of deep gashes on each. Pat Dry with a  kitchen  towel.

1st Marinade

  • Prepare the 1st marinade by mixing the lemon juice, 1 tsp salt and a dash of grated ginger. Rub all over the chicken and set aside for 10 minutes.

2nd Mariande

  • Mix the ingredients for the second marinade together. Rub all over the chicken pieces and marinate in the fridge for  an hour  or  overnight.


  • When ready to cook , take the chicken out of the refrigerator . Preheat the oven to 500°F or as high as your oven can go .
  • Line a sheet pan with aluminium foil and apply a light coating of oil, or place a stainless steel cooling rack on it .
  • Remove the chicken pieces one by one and wipe off excess marinade. Arrange the pieces on the sheet pan leaving at least 1" between them .
  • Bake for 20 minutes, remove from oven and brush oil on the top . Turn over the pieces . If looking dry brush with oil. Return to the oven . Bake for 10 - 15 more minutes . ( Cook 10 to  15  more  minutes  if  cooking at  lower  temperatures)


  • Remove from the oven and loosely cover with aluminum foil / large bowl and let rest for 10 minutes  Serve with lemon wedges / sliced onions .


Annato or Paprika imparts color to the chicken . Use both or either as desired.

Important: Nutrition Values are estimates. Actuals vary based on ingredients and serving size.

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Tandoori Chicken


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Thursday 2nd of February 2017

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