Tandoori chicken is a well-known Indian and Pakistani delicacy. It’s served at weddings, dinner parties, barbecues and anywhere else people want happy guests. Traditionally, it was prepared in a cylindrical clay oven called a tandoor, where charcoal or wood was used to generate heat. This method of cooking makes it so the fire itself serves as an ingredient, which gives tandoori chicken its distinct, smokey chargrilled flavor. Since you and I don’t have tandoors in our kitchens (if any of you do, can I invite myself over?), we can get the same effect by using a grill or broiling it in an oven.
I make this dish as an easy crowd pleaser. The night before, I marinate and refrigerate the chicken. Then I simply bake it right before the guests arrive. The fresh out of the oven tandoori chicken makes it easier for guests to forgive my undone hair and slightly sloppy kitchen. 😉
To keep it simple, I’ve included store-bought Tandoori Masala in this recipe. If you choose not to use it, substitute some garam masala for it, which is available at most grocery stores.
- 2-3 lb chicken drumsticks about 9-10 pieces, skin removed
For the Marinade
- 1 tbsp tomato paste
- 2 tsp salt or to taste
- 1 tbsp Tandoori Masala or Garam Masala
- 1 tsp red chilli powder or cayenne pepper use less for cayenne
- 1 tsp paprika
- 1 tsp turmeric powder
- 1 heaped tsp cumin powder
- 1 heaped tsp coriander powder
- 1 inch piece fresh ginger peeled and crushed
- 2 tbsp crushed garlic
- 1 cup yogurt
- 4 tbsp vegetable oil
- Juice of a lime or lemon
- 1-2 drops of red food coloring optional
In a large bowl, combine all the marinade ingredients and mix well.
Make two deep slits in the chicken pieces and add them to the marinade. Rub the chicken pieces with the mixture, ensuring the marinade goes well into the slits.
Cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours, preferably overnight (the longer the better).
2 Ways to Cook
Grill on low heat until the chicken is cooked through, about 15 minutes on each side. The internal temperature should reach 165°F (74°C).
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Use aluminum foil to line a baking sheet and and set an oven-proof rack over its top. Spray the rack with nonstick cooking spray or grease using vegetable oil. Place the chicken on the rack and reserve the leftover marinade. Bake for 25 minutes. Then turn the chicken pieces, slather the leftover marinade on them and bake for another 25-30 minutes or until it is completely cooked through. If your oven has a broiler function, set it to low after the chicken has cooked and let it broil for 5 minutes on each side, or until slightly charred.
Serve with chutney, raita and rice or naan.