Tandoori Chicken

Tandoori comes from the word tandoor, which is a traditional, burning hot clay oven. Now since most of us don’t live in a village in Punjab and don’t have access to a tandoor, the next best bed is to heat your oven or grill to the highest possible temperature to simulate the tandoor experience. Tandoori away, my friends!

Tandoori Chicken
Prep Time
30 mins
Cook Time
20 mins
Total Time
50 mins

This dish rules because it’s delicious, flavorful, healthy, and super easy to make. While the restaurant versions are bright red, this recipe skips the toxic food coloring and promises you only succulent, juicy goodness. Deliciously brought to you by Indian Spicebox.

Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Indian
Servings: 4
Author: Indian Spicebox
  • 2 heaped tablespoons plain yogurt 40ml
  • Juice of 1 lime or lemon
  • 1 teaspoon ginger paste
  • 1 teaspoon garlic paste
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons cumin powder
  • 2 teaspoons coriander powder
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala
  • ¼ teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 4 skinless whole chicken legs drumstick & thigh
  • 1 tablespoon coarsely chopped fresh coriander for garnish
  • 1 lime or lemon cut into wedges for garnish
  1. In a nonreactive bowl (metal or glass), whisk the yogurt, lime or lemon juice, ginger and garlic pastes, salt, cumin coriander, chili powder, garam masala, and tumeric into a smooth paste. (If you have any other spices lying around such as tandoori powder or jerk spice, feel free to shake in a little of each as well. This marinade is quite forgiving of experimentation.)

  2. Taste the marinade, and adjust seasonings and salt.
  3. Clean the chicken and pat it dry. Cut deep slits into the fleshy parts. Coat the chicken thoroughly in the marinade, then cover and refrigerate it for anywhere between 1 to 12 hours.

  4. Remove the chicken from the refrigerator about 20 minutes before you’re going to cook it so that it comes to room temperature. Preheat the oven to its highest temperature setting. Place the chicken pieces on a lightly greased foil-lined baking sheet.

  5. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, turning over once halfway. At the halfway point, reduce the heat to 180°C (350°F). A little charring is good, but don’t dry out the meat.
  6. Arrange the chicken legs on a platter, and let them rest for a few minutes before serving. Garnish with a sprinkling of fresh coriander and the lime wedges. Serve with masala onions on the side.

Recipe Notes

A note on marinating time: the longer the better, but anywhere from 1 hour to 12 hours is good. I like to make the marinade in the morning before the craziest of the day begins, and then pop the chicken in the oven just in time for dinner.


If you’re using chicken, stick to skinless dark meat (legs and/or thighs), but you can tandoori just about anything…it’s all about he marinade. You can use the same marinade recipe to make tandoori paneer, fish, and vegetables. For example, tandoori cauliflower is pretty awesome.

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This recipe has been generously contributed by Namita Mehra from the her cookbook Indian Spicebox.   Photos and original text copyright: 2010-2017 by Namita Mehra of Indian Spicebox.

This recipe and many more are available in the book Indian Spicebox.  Available at fairs and exhibitions within Singapore and online.  To order please visit www.indian-spicebox.com.

Filled with gorgeous full-color photos and featuring 30 go-to recipesCooking with Indian Spicebox is the perfect kitchen companion for Indian food fans—from experienced home cooks, to more casual cooks and even those too scared to boil rice. These are not recipes that require sweating over a curry for hours, and this is certainly not your typical Indian cookbook.