Tandoori chicken is arguably the most popular chicken recipes in Indian cuisine not only in India but also all over the world. Tender pieces of chicken (mostly drumsticks and leg pieces) are marinated in yogurt and spice mixture and roasted in a Tandoor. Hence the name Tandoori Chicken.
A 'Tandoor' is a giant cylindrical oven made out of clay, set into the earth and fired using wood or charcoal. They were originally used to make naan bread until Tandoori chicken came into the picture. I have used a conventional oven with broiler to replace the tandoor which obviously is not available at homes. Even with the oven I have managed to get the same taste as restaurant style Tandoori Chicken.
The secret to making juicy succulent tandoori chicken lies in the marinade and also the type of the chicken. Try to use a chicken that is small, young in age and that is not more than 1 Kilogram (2.2 lb) in total weight to get the best results.
Ingredients for Tandoori Chicken Recipe
- Chicken drumsticks – 6 medium sized pieces
Chicken Thighs or other pieces of your choice with skin removed – 1 kg (2.2lb)
NOTE: If you have whole leg cut it into 2 at the joint to get a drumstick piece and a thigh piece.
- Thick Yogurt/ Curd – 6 tbsp
TIP: If the curd or yogurt that you have is watery the marinade will become too thin and will not stick on to the chicken very well. So to remove the water take a muslin cloth sieve or use any finely netted sieve and put it on a container. Then pour the watery curd on to the sieve so that the excess water strains down into the container leaving the thick curd on the sieve. After straining you need to have 6 tbsp of this thick curd to be used for the marinade.
- Ginger Garlic paste – 1 tbsp
- Garam masala – 1 tsp
- Cumin powder – 1 tsp
- Coriander powder –1 tsp
- Red Chilly powder – 1 tbsp (Preferably use Kashmiri Red Chilly powder if you can get it)
- Turmeric powder – 1/4 tsp
- Chat masala – 1 tsp
- Pepper powder – 1 tsp
- Black salt (optional) – 1/2 tsp
- Lemon juice – 1 tbsp
- Red food color (optional) – 1/4 tsp
- Kasoori Methi – 1 tsp (crushed dry leaves)
- Oil – 1 tbsp
- Salt to taste
Prep time: 10 minutes
Marination time: 4 hours
Cook time: 30 minutes
Tandoori Chicken Marinade:
- Remove the skin on the chicken, rinse them gently under water and pat dry them.
- Using a knife make slightly 3 or 4 deep diagonal slits on the chicken pieces. If you are using large pieces like the whole chicken leg you need to make more slits that are deeper.
- In a large bowl, mix lemon juice ,salt, chilly powder and just apply the paste on the chicken pieces. Set the chicken pieces aside for for 20-30 minutes.
- In another large bowl, mix yogurt, ginger-garlic paste, cumin powder, coriander powder, black salt, chat masala, turmeric powder, black pepper powder, food color and salt.
- Now taste this mixture and adjust the salt or other spices to your taste needs.
- Add the chicken pieces into the bowl and mix well such that all the chicken pieces are evenly coated with the yogurt marinade. Ensure to rub in the marinade well into the slits that you made on the chicken pieces.
- Now add oil and mix gently.
- Store the marinated chicken in a refrigerator for 3 to 4 hours.
Tandoori Chicken Cooking method:
- Since the chicken needs to be cooked in a high temperature make sure the oven is first preheated to 450 degrees Fahrenheit (~230 degrees Celsius) or just set the oven to 'Broiler' mode. In Broiler mode wait for around 5 minutes before putting in the chicken.
- While the oven is heating up lineup the marinated chicken pieces into the broiler pan/rack.
- Once the oven is preheated put the pan in the oven preferably at the top, close to the heating coil/element.
- After around 5 minutes check to see how the chicken is cooking in the oven. If it cooking very quickly or if it is turning brown too quickly then you will need to move the pan to the middle of the oven so that it is not too close to the heating element. Please be extremely careful when taking out or putting in items into the oven that is very hot at this point.
- Allow the Chicken to roast for another 10 minutes. Then flip the chicken pieces and put it back into the oven.
- Roast for another 15 minutes. At this stage you need to check if the chicken is fully cooked.
You can do it 2 ways:
- The first and the easiest method is to use a instant meat thermometer. Insert the thermometer up to an inch or so into the thickest meatier part of the chicken piece and wait for a few seconds. If the final temperature is around 165 to 170 degree Fahrenheit then the chicken if fully cooked. If not allow the chicken to roast for a few more minutes.
- The 2nd method is to just insert a fork into the chicken. It should go in with ease all the way to the bone and if you move the fork sideways the meat on the chicken piece should start easily separating.
- Take the chicken out of the oven and allow it to settle for a few minutes. Garnish with sliced onions, lemon wedges and serve hot.