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Tandoori Chicken

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Serves four to six.

I love serving this with traditional Indian accompaniments, such as sesame-seed chutney, curried potatoes and peas, raita, basmati or fried rice, and mango shakes. If you like spicier chicken, increase the chili powder.

FOR THE MARINADE:
  • 2-inch piece ginger, peeled
  • 4 large cloves garlic
  • 1/4 tsp. turmeric
  • 1 tsp. chili powder
  • 1-1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. cumin seeds, ground
  • 3/4 cup plain low-fat yogurt
  • 1 Tbs. fresh lime juice
  • A few drops red food coloring or tandoori coloring (optional)
FOR THE CHICKEN:
  • 2 to 3 lb. boneless chicken thighs and breasts
  • 1/4 cup melted butter or olive oil
FOR THE GARNISH:
  • 1/2 mild onion, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup chopped cilantro leaves
  • 1 or 2 fresh green chiles, thinly sliced
  • 1 lime, cut in wedges

To make the marinade -- In a blender or food processor, blend the ginger and garlic to a fine paste (you may need to add a little water to make a paste). Add the turmeric, chili powder, salt, cumin, yogurt, lime juice, and food coloring; process until combined.

To prepare the chicken -- Remove the skin from the chicken, leaving some fat. Make a few slits in each piece and transfer to a nonreactive dish large enough for the pieces to lie flat. Pour the marinade over the chicken and stir to coat the chicken thoroughly. Seal with plastic, refrigerate, and marinate for at least 4 to no more than 12 hours, turning the chicken once. To grill the chicken-Ready a charcoal grill with an even layer of coals. While the grill is heating up, take the chicken out of the refrigerator. When the charcoal is red-hot, lay the chicken pieces on the grill about 2 inches apart. Baste with any remaining marinade. Cover the grill, leaving the vents half-open. 

Tandoori Chicken Recipe
Pour the marinade over the chicken and stir to coat the chicken thoroughly.

After about 5 minutes, remove the grill lid and turn over the chicken pieces; they should look slightly charred. Replace the lid and continue cooking for another 5 to 7 minutes. Uncover the chicken, baste it with the melted butter, turn it over, and leave it uncovered for the rest of the cooking time. Baste after 2 or 3 minutes and test for doneness: the meat should feel firm when you press it.

Tandoori Chicken Recipe
Chicken should be slightly charred.

Transfer the chicken to a large platter. Arrange the onion, cilantro, chiles, and lime wedges over the chicken and seal the platter with foil. Let the chicken rest for 10 minutes to absorb the garnish flavors.

nutrition information (per serving):
Size : based on 6 oz. serving; Calories (kcal): 430; Fat (g): fat g 21; Fat Calories (kcal): 190; Saturated Fat (g): sat fat g 9; Protein (g): protein g 52; Monounsaturated Fat (g): 7; Carbohydrates (g): carbs g 7; Polyunsaturated Fat (g): 3; Sodium (mg): sodium mg 790; Cholesterol (mg): cholesterol mg 175; Fiber (g): fiber g 1;

Photo: Mark Thomas

I had just been talking about this with a chicken-loving, cooking-loving friend... and bemoaning having forgotten where I kept the recipe. Coincidentally I found it the next day -- like finding an old friend! I had made this a number of times on the grill for visiting friends, always to rave reviews. Most were "Foodies" (at least the parents in the families) and several were familiar with Tandoori Chicken from frequenting Indian restaurants. So rave reviews from these diners: not to be taken lightly! I liked the recipe immediately but had little experience from which to base comparisons. My one comment, based on the some of the reviews I just found here: I "grilled" mine in the oven. The texture was fine. Not sure what temperature or time I used; it's been many years.

Saw this recipe in a booklet titled Favorite Recipes from 10 years of Fine Cooking, so I knew it had to be a winner. Prepared this over a charcoal grill for some guests last night. Although I also prepared brown basmati rice, curried lentil soup ladled over the rice, and aloo palak (Indian potatoes and spinach), the Tandoori style chicken was the star of the show. I made it just as the recipe called for, but marinating the chicken pieces with the marinade in a one-gallon ziplock bag in the refrigerator for 6-8 hrs. My guests loved the flavor and commented how authentic everything tasted. Be careful not to overcook the chicken--it sits under foil for 10 minutes with the garnishes.

Great told everyone in the office and shared the recipe with them online. I only marinated it for 4 hours and it was falling apart. I would say less time is probably more, but try it and see for yourself. Had it the second night and still great. I'm sure it would be great with other meats too. I followed the recipe exactly except for the lime juice, just went with one whole lime with extra on the side, and I rinsed the onions so they would not over power the chicken.

This chicken really dried out on the grill, despite the yogurt/spice marinade. In fact, to salvage the results we made it into Chicken Tikka Masala, which was super delicious. However, I would not make the Chicken Tikka Masala again, as it was way too much work to first make the Tandoori Chicken and then turn it into Tikka Masala. But I can see why this is a standard dish in Indian Restaurants -- a great way to "recycle" leftover Tandoori Chicken. We used half-and-half, instead of heavy cream and the results were fine.

I love this one. The tandoori marinade comes together very quickly, making this a great weeknight dinner for us. It's got just enough heat for me with the recommended amount of chile powder. I haven't felt the need to add more. I've also served it to guests with rave reviews. I like to serve this with Maryellen Driscoll's grilled flatbreads from Fine Cookie #93, and grilled pineapple.

very moist, easy and deelish...made exactly as written, marinated for 6 hrs and served with basmati rice; grilled pita would have also been good. great dish. will definitely make again.

This recipe is awesome - very tasty. The chicken was very tender. I basted the chicken with olive oil instead of melted butter. The garnishes at the end were a nice addition, although I didn't add the green chiles.

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