Tandoori Chicken is a classic Indian dish known for its smoky flavor and spicy kick. Prepared with chicken marinated in a yogurt-spice mix, it's traditionally roasted in a Tandoor to achieve its unique taste. However, you can easily recreate this dish at home using an oven, air fryer, or grill.
Perfect as an appetizer or main course, it pairs wonderfully with biryani, pulao, naan, and various dips. Join me in making this flavorful Tandoori Chicken, a staple of Indian cuisine.
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Ingredients and Substitutions Overview
For this Tandoori Chicken recipe, we'll use simple, readily available ingredients commonly found in Indian kitchens or local Indian grocery stores. Let's take a look at the essentials needed for this flavorful dish.
- Chicken: Preferably thighs, drumsticks, or leg quarters for their tenderness and flavor absorption. Breast or whole chicken can also be used for variation.
- Spice Powders: Kashmiri chili powder for vibrant color and mild heat; garam masala for warmth and depth; coriander powder for a hint of earthiness; and black pepper powder for a subtle spice kick.
- Ginger Garlic Paste: Acts as a tenderizer and infuses the chicken with a robust, aromatic flavor.
- Mustard Oil: Its pungency and high smoke point contribute to the authentic smoky taste of Tandoori dishes.
- Hung Curd or Greek Yogurt: Adds creaminess to the marinade, helps tenderize the chicken, and balances the spices with its mild sourness.
- Lemon Juice: Introduces a fresh, citrusy element, aiding in tenderizing the meat and enhancing overall flavor.
- Kasoori Methi: These dried fenugreek leaves offer a unique, herby aroma that is quintessential to many Indian dishes, including Tandoori Chicken.
How to Make Tandoori Chicken at Home?
Begin your culinary journey with this easy-to-follow guide for making Tandoori Chicken, complete with helpful photos and videos. We'll guide you through each step: preparing the chicken, mixing the Tandoori marinade, marinating, and then expertly cooking it in an oven, on a grilling pan, or in an air fryer.
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- Baked Chicken Leg Quarters
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Tandoori Chicken (3 Ways)
- 5 piece Chicken Leg Quarters, or thighs, drumsticks, or whole chicken
- 1 tbsp Mustard Oil
- 1 tsp Kashmiri Chili Powder, or paprika
- 2 tsp Ginger Garlic Paste
- 1 tsp Pepper Powder, black
- 1 tsp Coriander Powder
- 1 tsp Garam Masala Powder
- ¼ tsp Turmeric Powder
- ½ tsp Kasoori Methi, crushed
- Salt, as needed
- 1 tbsp Lemon Juice
- ½ cup Curd, thick hung curd or plain Greek yogurt
For Basting Mixture
- 1 tbsp Mustard Oil
- 1 tsp Kashmiri Chili Powder, or paprika
For Tandoori on Grilling Pan
- 1 tbsp Oil, vegetable, canola, or other neutral-tasting oil
- Onion Slices
- Lemon Wedges
- Chaat Masala, optional
Preparing the Chicken
- Use a sharp knife to make deep cuts or slashes in the chicken leg quarters, thighs, or drumsticks. For a whole chicken, make similar deep cuts in the breast, thighs, and legs areas. This allows the marinade to penetrate more deeply, enhancing the flavor.
Preparing Tandooori Marinade
- Start by pouring mustard oil into a wide bowl. Add Kashmiri Chili Powder to it and mix thoroughly using a spoon or hand whisk. This process imparts a natural deep red color and a distinctive aroma to the chicken.
- Next, add ginger garlic paste, pepper powder, coariander powder, garam masala powder, turmeric powder, kasoori methi, salt, lemon juice, and thick curd. Combine everything well to ensure a uniform and flavorful marinade.
Marinating the Chicken
- Place the chicken leg quarters, thighs, or drumsticks into the marinade bowl. Ensure each piece is thoroughly coated with the tandoori masala marinade for even flavor distribution.
- Cover the bowl with a lid and allow the chicken to marinate for a minimum of 5 to 6 hours in the refrigerator, preferably overnight. This extended marination period ensures the spices thoroughly infuse into the chicken, significantly enhancing the flavor and tenderness of the dish.
Preparing Basting Mixture
- In a small bowl, combine mustard oil with Kashmiri chili powder. Stir the mixture thoroughly until the chili powder is fully incorporated into the oil. This basting mixture will be used later for basting the chicken, adding an extra layer of flavor and enhancing the color.
Method 1: Making Tandoori Chicken in an Oven
- Take the marinated chicken leg quarters and place them on a wire rack. Ensure the rack is set over a baking tray that has been lightly greased with oil. This setup allows heat to circulate around the chicken, ensuring even cooking and a crispy exterior.
- Preheat your oven to 400°F. Once preheated, bake the chicken for approximately 15 minutes. This initial bake helps to seal in the juices, making the chicken moist on the inside.
- After the first 15 minutes, carefully open the oven and use a brush to apply the prepared basting mixture over the chicken legs. This step not only adds flavor but also contributes to a vibrant, appetizing appearance. After basting, close the oven and continue baking for another 15 to 20 minutes. To achieve a charred and smoky effect, switch your oven to grill mode for the last 5 minutes of cooking. This mimics the traditional tandoori cooking method, giving you that characteristic smoky flavor.
- Once the chicken is fully cooked (you can check for doneness by ensuring the internal temperature reaches 165°F), remove it from the oven. Your oven-grilled Chicken Tandoori is now ready to be enjoyed.
Method 2: Making Tandoori Chicken in a Grilling Pan
- Heat a grilling pan over medium heat. Brush it with cooking oil. Once the pan is hot, place the marinated chicken legs on it. Grill them for 5 to 7 minutes, ensuring they start to get a nice sear and begin to cook through.
- Carefully flip the chicken legs over. Now, baste them with the prepared basting mixture. This not only adds flavor but also helps in achieving a nice glaze. Continue to grill the chicken for another 5 to 7 minutes.
- Flip the chicken legs to the other side again and baste them with basting mixture. Grill for an additional 3 to 5 minutes. Keep repeating this process - flipping and basting - until the chicken is thoroughly cooked. It’s crucial to maintain a moderate to medium heat throughout the cooking process to ensure the chicken cooks evenly without burning.
- Once the chicken is fully cooked, with a nice char and fully infused with the flavors from the marinade and basting mixture, remove it from the pan. Your Grilling Pan Tandoori Chicken is now ready to be served and enjoyed.
- Enjoy your Tandoori Chicken with a side of fluffy basmati rice or warm naan for a classic pairing. For more creative and delicious serving ideas, refer to our Serving Suggestions section.
Chef's Notes and Tips
- Chicken Cuts: Prefer thighs, drumsticks, or leg quarters for their ability to stay juicy and absorb flavors. If opting for chicken breasts or a whole chicken, adjust the cooking time accordingly. Refer to our specific oven-baked chicken breast recipe and simply replace the seasoning with the Tandoori marinade for a tailored approach.
- Whole Chicken Tandoori: For Tandoori using a whole chicken, refer to our Roasted Whole Chicken recipe. Swap its marinade with the Tandoori Chicken Marinade from this recipe, then follow the same cooking instructions for a flavorful Tandoori twist.
Cooking and Serving:
- Preheat Grill or Oven: Preheating your grill or oven is crucial for a consistent, high-heat environment, which is key to replicating the effect of a traditional tandoor oven.
- Skewering the Chicken: In an oven, skewering helps in cooking the chicken evenly by allowing heat to circulate all around. This method also helps in easy flipping and handling.
- Basting: Mid-cooking, baste the chicken with butter or oil. This not only adds flavor but also helps in keeping the chicken moist and prevents it from drying out.
- Safety Check: Tailor the cooking time and temperature based on the size and thickness of the chicken pieces. Always verify that the chicken has reached an internal temperature of 165°F (75°C) using a meat thermometer for safe consumption recommended by FDA.
- Resting the Chicken: Allow the cooked chicken to rest for a few minutes before serving. This step is crucial as it helps in retaining the juices within the meat, ensuring a moist and flavorful bite.
- Stovetop Method: When grilling on the stovetop, maintain a medium heat for an even cook and to prevent burning. This method requires careful attention for optimal flavor and texture.
- Charcoal Smoking on Stovetop: For an authentic tandoor-like smoky flavor, place a small foil pouch with hot charcoal and a few drops of oil in the pan. This technique adds a unique aroma and taste.
Disclaimer: We’re not nutrition experts. Nutritional info is estimated and should be used as a guide. For precise details, consult a professional.
Explore an array of chicken dinner recipes, from hearty baked delights to authentic Indian chicken dishes. Each dish offers unique flavors and textures, turning your dinners into memorable culinary experiences.
Method 3: Tandoori Chicken in an Air Fryer
Making Tandoori Chicken in an Air Fryer is a great option for a healthier version of this classic dish. Here's how you can do it:
- Marinate the Chicken: Prepare the marinade and marinate the chicken leg quarters. Let them rest in the refrigerator overnight, or for at least 5 to 6 hours, to allow the flavors to fully penetrate the meat.
- Preheat the Air Fryer: Set your Air Fryer to 400°F and preheat it for 5 minutes. After the preheat alarm sounds, open the basket and lightly spray it with oil.
- Cook the Chicken: Place the marinated chicken leg quarters in the basket. Set the Air Fryer to 380°F and the timer to 30 minutes. Close the basket and let the chicken cook for the first 15 minutes.
- Brush with Basting Mixture: After 15 minutes, pause the Air Fryer and open the basket. Brush basting mixture on both sides of the chicken, then continue cooking for the remaining 15 minutes.
- Rest and Serve: Once the cooking time is up and the alarm beeps, let the chicken sit in the Air Fryer for 5 minutes. Then, open the basket, remove the chicken, and serve it with your preferred sides.
Safety Note: Always check that the internal temperature of the cooked chicken reaches at least 165°F, the safe consumption temperature recommended by the FDA.
Additional Note: The temperature and time mentioned are based on medium-sized chicken leg quarters. These settings may vary for different chicken parts. Always refer to your Air Fryer's manual for guidance on adjusting temperature settings.
To enhance your Tandoori Chicken experience, consider these serving suggestions:
- Traditional Indian Breads: Serve with warm naan, roti, or paratha for a classic combination. These breads are perfect for scooping up the chicken and any flavorful juices.
- Rice Dishes: Pair with aromatic basmati rice, biryani, or pulao. The spices in the rice complement the smoky flavor of the chicken.
- Cooling Side Dishes: Accompany with cucumber raita or a simple yogurt dip to balance the heat and add a creamy texture.
- Fresh Salads: A crisp salad with lettuce, cucumber, and tomatoes, dressed lightly, offers a refreshing contrast to the spicy chicken.
- Lemon Wedges and Fresh Herbs: Garnish with lemon wedges for a zesty kick and fresh cilantro or mint for added freshness and flavor.
- Chutneys and Pickles: Offer a variety of chutneys, such as mint, coriander, mango or tamarind, and some Indian pickles for a tangy twist.
- Vegetable Sides: Include grilled or roasted vegetables like bell peppers, onions, and tomatoes to add color and nutrition to your meal.
- Beverages: Serve with cooling drinks like lassi, nimbu pani (lemon water), to complement the robust flavors.
For storing leftover Tandoori Chicken, keep it in a sealed container in the refrigerator for up to a day. When ready to enjoy again, simply reheat in the microwave on high for 3 to 5 minutes, ensuring it's evenly warmed through.