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Tandoori Chicken

Mark Thomas

Servings: 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.



  • 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)


  • 2 to 3 lb. boneless chicken thighs and breasts
  • 1/4 cup melted butter or olive oil


  • 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

Nutritional Information

  • Nutritional Sample Size based on 6 oz. serving
  • Calories (kcal) : 430
  • Fat Calories (kcal): 190
  • Fat (g): 21
  • Saturated Fat (g): 9
  • Polyunsaturated Fat (g): 3
  • Monounsaturated Fat (g): 7
  • Cholesterol (mg): 175
  • Sodium (mg): 790
  • Carbohydrates (g): 7
  • Fiber (g): 1
  • Protein (g): 52


  • 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. 
    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.
    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.


Rate or Review

Reviews (9 reviews)

  • Judy_Charlottesville | 07/20/2017

    We've been making this recipe since it was published in 1997 and have made it dozens of times. It's an absolute favorite and guests always rave about it. Growing up, the kids always wanted this....and a couple of them are coming to visit this weekend, and this menu is their request! I follow the recipe fairly closely (no food coloring), always use boneless-skinless chicken thighs only, and it's always delicious. We serve it with grilled flatbreads (Fine Cooking June/July 2008) and Hummus with Tahini (same 2008 issue). This weekend, now that the kids are adults :-), we will start with watermelon gin punch (Fine Cooking August/September 2008)!!!!!!!

  • CA_HILLS | 01/02/2017

    Have made this several times and always amazing. We use chicken thighs because they make the best leftovers as far as moist chicken is concerned. Never used food coloring, and with all the tumeric, it's plenty yellow for my liking. I marinate in plain goat yogurts and it's honestly my favorite grilled chicken recipe ever.

  • JoyG | 09/19/2011

    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.

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