In our family we all love Tandoori Chicken. We make it almost every Sunday. My mother does lot of variations. My father would say my mom’s Tandoori Chicken is the best. She would make it so well.
I also make it almost everyday because Sanvi loves it. Even if I don’t make it, Sanvi would ask me “Amma, mmm I have chickkkk…” On Sundays, Gj prefers to have Tandoori Chicken and even when we have a group of friends at home, I make Tandoori Chicken.
Here, I have written the recipe in detail keeping the beginners in mind. I have explained it as much as I could. If in case you are stuck on something or have questions, do mail me.
Preparation time. 15 minutes
Marination time. 1 hour to 2 days
Cook time. 25 to 30 minutes
Recipe Cuisine. Indian
Chicken legs – 1 kg
Thick curd/yogurt – 2 cups
Ginger garlic paste – 2 teaspoons
Turmeric powder – 1 teaspoon (If using saffron color, add 1/2 teaspoon of it and omit turmeric powder)
Chilli powder – 4 teaspoons
Garam masala – 1 teaspoon
Coriander powder (daniya thool) – 1 teaspoon
Lemon juice – 2 tablespoons
Finely chopped coriander leaves – 1/2 bunch
Black salt – 1 teaspoon
Oil – 8 teaspoons
Note. The ingredients shown will vary with the original quantity.
1. In a mixing bowl, add curd/yogurt, chilli powder, turmeric powder, cumin powder (seeraga thool), garam masala, coriander powder, coriander leaves, ginger garlic paste, oil, saffron/red color, and black salt. Taste the marinade for salt and spice and adjust accordingly. At this stage, salt and spice should taste extra strong.
- Yogurt/curd needs to be thick so that it sticks to the chicken properly.
- If you have taken curd/yogurt straight from the refrigerator, then let it come to room temperature otherwise it may curdle.
- If you need more taste and not concerned about adding pickle, then add 4 teaspoons of pickle. It could be any pickle. I learned this tip from Chef Dhamu.
- Sometimes, the color of the marinade may stick to the mixing bowl well. You may find it difficult to wash. In order to avoid this, you could put the marinade in the ziplock bags/plastic bags.
2. Remove the skin from chicken pieces. Prick the flesh of the chicken all over with a fork. Then, using a sharp knife, cut deep slits in 2 to 3 places on the leg/thigh pieces of each chicken. The knife needs to touch the bone. The slits should be deep and big. This will allow the marinade to penetrate well, and the chicken will absorb flavors.
3. Now, rub the marinade into the chicken flesh well. Sprinkle coriander leaves. Cover the chicken marinade, and refrigerate it for minimum 1 hour. You should not marinade and refrigerate it for more than 2 days as the citric acid in the chicken marinade will spoil the Tandoori Chicken. The marination will help the chicken to absorb the juices and flavors well.
My minimum time is 1 hour.
My maximum time is 1 day.
4. Cooking Methods
Heat oil in a pan. When the oil is in medium-high heat, add the chicken pieces carefully. If the oil is very hot, then the chicken may have cooked well outside and stay raw inside. You should fry the chicken until the chicken is cooked inside and turns dark red/brown outside.
Oven – Broiler
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Cover the baking pan with an aluminum foil. Wipe the excess marinade off the chickens, and place the marinated chicken on the aluminum foil or baking pan. The chicken pieces should not touch each other. Leave enough space between them. Then, place the baking pan in the center rack of the oven. Broil the chicken for 15 to 20 minutes. Now, take out the baking tray and using a thong, turn the chicken pieces over and broil again for an additional 15 minutes. If you see chicken caramelizing, do not panic. The burning flavor will give a unique taste to the chicken.
- Oven timings varies with each oven so make sure you check yours carefully.
- If the chicken pieces are cooked on low heat, then the chicken will become tough once cooked.
I have not grilled Tandoori Chicken before, but I’ve seen my friends doing it. I’ve seen my friends grilling the chicken on direct heat.
How can I find out whether my chicken is cooked?
- Chicken should look crispy and charred in some edges of the chicken.
- Chicken should begin to come off the bones.
- Chicken juices should run clear when you pierce it near the bone with a sharp knife.
Garnish Tandoori Chicken with coriander leaves, lemon wedges, slices of cucumber, and red onion.
Serve with naan and Mint sauce in yoghurt or yogurt-based raita on the side.
1. What are the ways I could cook Tandoori Chicken?
Oven with a broiler
2. Which part of chicken should I use for Tandoori Chicken?
Use small bone-in thighs/drumsticks and legs as they have lot of fat to keep the chicken moist in the heat.
Chicken breasts will dry out easily under heat.
Chicken breast will cook faster than the chicken bone-in thighs/drumsticks so keep a check on your cooking time.
3. Can I use chicken with skins?
Prefer using chicken pieces that are skinless. It is quite easy to remove the skin from the chicken.
4. I have only chicken with skins. What can I do?
Follow the same cooking method, and slowly fry the chicken until crispy.
5. I do not like yoghurt/curd. Can I skip it?
You can skip using yogurt/curd, but the taste would be slightly different. Add a little extra oil and lemon juice to compensate for yogurt/curd. If you have sour cream, then substitute it for yogurt. Just use half the amount of sour cream.
6. Can I use skimmed milk yoghurt?
Always use full fat curd/yoghurt. Sometimes skimmed milk yoghurt will curdle when cooked on hight heat. If you wish to use low fat yoghurt, add 1 teaspoon of plain or corn flour per cup of yoghurt.
7. Can I use ready-made tandoori mixes?
Many restaurants use ready-made Tandoori mixes. It gives a bright red color to the chicken.
8. What vegetables can I use with the same Tandoori marinade?
Peppers, aubergines, tofu, paneer, cauliflower, mushroom etc.
9. I have some chicken pieces left? Can I use them later?
Marinade all of the chicken once. Put the chicken pieces that you do not want to use in plastic bags/ziploc bags and freeze them. Do not crowd the chicken in the plastic bags. When you want to make Tandoori Chicken, take the chicken bags out, thaw the chicken and cook.
10. Can I avoid using artificial colors?
Tandoori Chicken can be made without any artificial flavours and colors. Usually, it is better to avoid adding artificial colors to the chicken. You will not be able to get that thick bright red color. Your chicken will instead look brown in color.
11. How can I get a deep red color to the chicken?
You can add saffron/artificial color and kashmiri red chilli powder to the chicken.
12. How long should I marinade the chicken?
I usually marinade for minimum 1 hour and maximum would be a day. It varies from person to person. Some marinade for 5 to 6 hours. Some even for 2 days. Do not marinade the chicken for more than 2 days as the citric acid in the lemon will spoil the taste of the chicken.