Tandoori chicken recipe

 What is tandoori chicken?

Tandoori chicken is a flavorful and succulent Indian dish made by marinating chicken in a mixture of yogurt and various spices, and then cooking it in a traditional clay oven called a tandoor. The marinade typically includes ingredients such as yogurt, lemon juice, ginger, garlic, turmeric, cumin, coriander, paprika, and red chili powder.

The name "tandoori" comes from the word "tandoor," which is a traditional cylindrical clay oven used for cooking in Indian cuisine. The chicken is marinated for several hours, allowing the flavors to penetrate the meat. It is then skewered and placed in the tandoor, where it is cooked at high temperatures. The intense heat of the tandoor gives the chicken a smoky and charred flavor while keeping it tender and juicy.

Tandoori chicken is known for its vibrant red color, which comes from the addition of red food coloring or natural coloring agents like Kashmiri red chili powder. It is often served with a side of mint chutney and accompanied by naan bread or rice. Tandoori chicken is a popular dish in Indian restaurants worldwide and is enjoyed by people of various cultural backgrounds due to its delicious flavor and aromatic spices.

Easy Tandoori chicken recipe
Tandoori chicken recipe.

Tandoori chicken ingredients

  • Chicken: Use bone-in chicken pieces like drumsticks, thighs, or whole chicken cut into pieces. Skin-on chicken is often preferred for its moisture and flavor.Yogurt: A key ingredient in the tandoori marinade, yogurt helps tenderize the chicken and infuse it with flavor. Use plain yogurt, preferably full-fat, without any added sweeteners.
  • Tandoori Masala: Tandoori masala is a spice blend that gives the dish its characteristic flavor and vibrant red color. You can either make your own tandoori masala by combining various spices or purchase a pre-made tandoori masala from stores.
  • Ginger and Garlic: Fresh ginger and garlic are commonly used to add a pungent and aromatic kick to the marinade. They can be finely minced or made into a paste.Lemon Juice: Lemon juice not only adds a tangy flavor but also helps tenderize the chicken. Freshly squeezed lemon juice is preferable.
  • Spices: In addition to tandoori masala, various spices are used to enhance the flavor of the marinade. Commonly used spices include cumin powder, coriander powder, turmeric powder, paprika or Kashmiri red chili powder (for color), and a pinch of garam masala. 
  • Salt: Add salt to taste to season the chicken and bring out its flavors. Oil: A small amount of oil, such as vegetable oil or melted ghee (clarified butter), is often added to the marinade to provide moisture and help prevent the chicken from sticking to the grill.
  • Optional ingredients for additional flavor:Kasuri Methi (dried fenugreek leaves): It adds a distinct aroma and flavor to the marinade.Red food coloring: Some recipes call for a few drops of red food coloring to achieve a more vibrant red color, but this is optional.

These ingredients are mixed together to create a flavorful marinade, and the chicken is typically marinated for a few hours, or preferably overnight, to allow the flavors to penetrate the meat. After marination, the chicken is traditionally cooked in a tandoor oven, but it can also be grilled or baked in a regular oven at high heat until it is cooked through and has a slightly charred exterior.

What makes a tandoori?

Tandoori refers to a cooking method and style of cuisine that originated in the Indian subcontinent. The term "tandoori" is derived from the word "tandoor," which is a traditional cylindrical clay oven used for baking, roasting, and grilling in South Asian and Central Asian cultures.Here are the key elements that make a dish tandoori:

Tandoor Oven: Authentic tandoori dishes are cooked in a tandoor oven, which is heated using charcoal or wood. The intense heat and smoky flavor from the burning coals are distinctive characteristics of tandoori cooking.

Marination: Tandoori dishes are typically marinated in a mixture of yogurt and spices before cooking. The yogurt helps tenderize the meat and infuse it with flavor, while the spices add a rich and aromatic taste. Common spices used in tandoori marinades include cumin, coriander, turmeric, paprika, ginger, garlic, and chili powder.

High Heat Cooking: Tandoori dishes are cooked at high temperatures, usually between 400 to 500 degrees Celsius (750 to 900 degrees Fahrenheit), in the tandoor oven. This quick cooking method helps seal in the juices and creates a slightly charred and smoky exterior while keeping the meat or vegetables moist and tender.

Skewering: Traditionally, tandoori dishes are prepared by skewering the marinated meat or vegetables on long metal skewers, which are then placed in the tandoor oven. This method allows for even cooking and imparts a distinct flavor from the radiant heat of the clay walls.

Tandoori Masala: Tandoori masala is a spice blend used in tandoori cooking. It usually includes a combination of ground spices such as cumin, coriander, paprika, turmeric, cardamom, cinnamon, and cloves. Tandoori masala enhances the flavor and imparts the characteristic reddish hue to the dish.

Smoky Flavor: The intense heat and smoky environment inside the tandoor oven contribute to the unique flavor profile of tandoori dishes. The smoke generated from the burning coals infuses the food, giving it a distinct smoky aroma and taste.

Tandoori cooking is commonly associated with dishes like tandoori chicken, tandoori naan (bread), tandoori fish, tandoori paneer (cheese), and various kebabs. These dishes are widely enjoyed for their vibrant flavors, tenderness, and the signature charred and smoky touch imparted by the tandoor oven.

Is tandoori chicken healthy or not?

Tandoori chicken can be a relatively healthy dish, especially when compared to fried or heavily sauced chicken dishes. Here are some factors that contribute to its healthiness:

  1. Lean Protein: Chicken is a good source of lean protein, which is essential for building and repairing tissues, supporting muscle growth, and promoting overall health.
  2. Low in Fat: Tandoori chicken is typically made with skinless chicken or with the skin removed, which helps reduce the overall fat content. The use of yogurt in the marinade adds moisture without adding excessive fat.
  3. Nutrient-rich Marinade: The marinade for tandoori chicken often includes ingredients like yogurt, ginger, garlic, and various spices. These ingredients can provide beneficial nutrients and antioxidants. Yogurt, for example, is a good source of calcium and probiotics.
  4. Limited Oil: While a small amount of oil is used in the marinade, it is usually not excessive. Additionally, when tandoori chicken is cooked in a tandoor oven, any excess fat drips off due to the high heat and vertical positioning, further reducing the fat content.
  5. Grilled or Baked Cooking Method: Tandoori chicken is typically grilled or baked at high temperatures, which allows excess fat to drain away, resulting in a healthier final product compared to deep-fried chicken.
  6. However, it's worth noting that the overall healthiness of tandoori chicken can vary depending on the specific recipe and cooking methods used. Commercially prepared tandoori chicken may contain added artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives, so it's advisable to choose homemade or freshly prepared options when possible.
  7. Additionally, the healthiness of tandoori chicken can also be influenced by portion size and accompanying side dishes. Pairing it with healthy sides such as salads, grilled vegetables, or whole grains can contribute to a well-balanced and nutritious meal.
  8. As with any food, moderation is key. While tandoori chicken can be a healthier option compared to some other chicken dishes, it's still important to consider your overall dietary choices and consume it as part of a balanced and varied diet.

In conclusion, here's a simplified recipe for making tandoori chicken at home:


  • 4-6 chicken pieces.
  • 1 cup plain yogurt.
  • 2 tablespoons tandoori masala.
  • 1 tablespoon garlic ginger paste.
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice.
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon powder.
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder.
  • 1 teaspoon Kashmiri red chili powder (optional).
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder.
  • Salt to taste.
  • 1 tablespoon oil.
  • Chopped cilantro and lemon wedges for garnish (optional).
  • 1 teaspoon of saffron powder with 1 tbsp of olive oil( for color).


  1. In a mixing bowl, combine yogurt, tandoori masala, ginger garlic paste, lemon juice, cumin powder, coriander powder, paprika or red chili powder, turmeric powder, salt, and oil. Mix well to form a smooth marinade.
  2. Make small slits on the chicken pieces to allow the marinade to penetrate.
  3. Add the chicken pieces to the marinade, ensuring they are well coated. Cover the bowl and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, or preferably overnight, to allow the flavors to develop.
  4. Place your chicken on the oven tray then brush it with the mixture of saffron and olive oil.
  5. Preheat your oven, then bake your chicken for about 45 to 60 minutes. Or you can grill the chicken if you prefer that.
  6. Garnish with chopped cilantro and serve hot with lemon wedges on the side.
This simplified tandoori chicken recipe provides a delicious and flavorful result with minimal effort. Remember to adjust the spice levels and cooking time according to your taste and the specific equipment you're using. Enjoy your homemade tandoori chicken as a delicious and healthier alternative to fried chicken dishes!

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