Chicken Tandoori
Chicken Tandoori
5 from 16 votes
Ready to sizzle up your kitchen with the spicy, smoky, and tangy delight of Chicken Tandoori? Delve into this guide to learn the ins and outs of mastering this delicious dish right at your home.

If there’s one dish that captures the essence of Indian culinary magic, it’s undoubtedly Chicken Tandoori. The name alone brings up the image of succulent, fiery red chicken, perfectly charred with a smoky flavour that never fails to tantalize the taste buds. 

The story of Chicken Tandoori began in the rustic lanes of the Indian subcontinent, a blend of traditional cooking techniques and vibrant spice mixtures.  

The recipe’s heart lies in its spice blend, often referred to as ‘Tandoori Masala’. This rich mix of spices has been handed down through generations, making Chicken Tandoori a significant part of cultural heritage and family meals. 

When it comes to making Chicken Tandoori, one might think it’s a complex dish, considering its incredible depth of flavours. But, surprise, surprise, it’s relatively easy to make!  

The key is in the marinade – a mix of yogurt, spices, and a dash of lemon juice – which infuses the chicken with all those wonderful flavours. The best part? Once the marinade is ready, the oven does most of the work. 

Now, don’t be shy about trying out different variations of Chicken Tandoori. Once you’ve mastered the basic version, the world of Indian cuisine opens up to you!  

Experiment with different spices, try various cuts of chicken, or even substitute chicken with other proteins like paneer or tofu for a vegetarian version. 

In the realm of Indian cuisine, Chicken Tandoori is truly a chameleon. It can be the show-stopping main course at a dinner party, a cosy weekend dinner, or even morph into a weeknight meal when paired with a simple side of steamed rice.  

What makes Chicken Tandoori a truly versatile dish is its ability to meld with other flavours, making it a fantastic base for curries, wraps, salads, and much more. 

So, whether you’re new to Indian cuisine or looking to expand your culinary repertoire, Chicken Tandoori is a fantastic recipe to start with. Not only does it encapsulate the rich culinary tradition of India, but it’s also an exciting and rewarding recipe to master. 

So, roll up your sleeves, put on your chef’s hat, and let’s dive into the flavourful world of Chicken Tandoori! A symphony of spices and smoky flavour await you! 

What Ingredients to Use & Why 

Before embarking on our culinary journey, let’s delve into the magical world of ingredients that make Chicken Tandoori the vibrant, flavourful dish that it is.  

Each ingredient has a role, either enhancing the dish’s overall flavour or contributing to the depth and complexity of taste that Chicken Tandoori is celebrated for. 

Chicken Legs: The protagonist of our dish, chicken legs are chosen for their tender and juicy nature. The choice of cut is vital. Legs absorb the marinade better and stay succulent during the high heat of cooking. If you’re looking for an alternative, bone-in chicken thighs are a great option. 

Yoghurt: This seemingly simple ingredient is what gives Chicken Tandoori its signature tenderness. The acidity in yoghurt acts as a natural tenderizer, ensuring each bite is succulent. For a dairy-free alternative, coconut milk can work. 

Oil: A little oil goes a long way in keeping the chicken moist during cooking and helping the spices stick to it. You could use olive oil or any other vegetable oil. 

Tandoori Masala: This is the heart and soul of our recipe. The vibrant mix of spices brings the heat, aroma, and distinct taste of Tandoori Chicken. Don’t have Tandoori Masala? A blend of garam masala, cumin, coriander, and paprika could be your DIY solution. 

Salt: As with most recipes, salt helps bring out the flavours of the other ingredients. It’s key to achieving a well-rounded flavour profile. 

Turmeric Powder: Turmeric lends the dish its golden colour and a subtle earthy flavour. It also has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits. 

Chilli Powder & Crushed Chillies: These give the Chicken Tandoori its signature heat. You can adjust the quantity to suit your taste. For a smoky heat, consider substituting with chipotle powder. 

Ginger & Garlic Paste: This dynamic duo is the backbone of many Indian dishes. They give the dish a wonderful depth of flavour, with garlic providing a mellow sweetness and ginger adding a zesty note. 

Lemon Juice: The tanginess of lemon juice not only balances the heat but also aids in tenderizing the chicken. You could also use lime juice or even vinegar in a pinch. 

Cumin Seeds: The unique aroma and flavour of cumin give an extra depth to the dish. If you’re out of cumin, you can use ground coriander as a substitute, but it will slightly alter the flavour. 

Now that we’ve explored the ingredients in all their glory, it’s clear that each plays a vital role in creating the magic that is Chicken Tandoori.  

From the spices that create a flavour explosion, the yoghurt and lemon juice that tenderize the chicken, to the oil that keeps everything moist – every component is integral to the recipe.  

So next time you whip up some Chicken Tandoori, you’ll know the hows and whys of what goes into your dish. Now, let’s gear up for the actual cooking process – the adventure awaits! 

Mastering the Art of Chicken Tandoori Marinade 

It all starts with the marinade when it comes to crafting the perfect Chicken Tandoori. I can’t stress enough how crucial this first step is – getting the marinade right sets the tone for your final dish. So let’s take a deep dive into the intricacies of a Tandoori marinade and unlock its secrets. 

Firstly, what strikes you about Chicken Tandoori is its vibrant hue. It’s the Tandoori Masala, a potent mix of spices, that gives the dish its iconic fiery red colour.  

The spices are not just about the colour, though. Each spice in the blend brings a unique flavour, creating a depth and complexity that’s hard to resist. 

Then comes the yoghurt, the unsung hero of the marinade. You might wonder what’s so special about this simple ingredient.  

The answer lies in its acidity. It tenderizes the chicken, ensuring that the meat stays juicy and succulent during the cooking process. Plus, it forms a thick coating that allows the spices to adhere to the chicken, resulting in a more flavourful dish. 

I’m also a big believer in the power of fresh ginger and garlic paste in the marinade. It’s a classic duo that brings a depth of flavour to the dish. The zesty freshness of ginger paired with the mellow, almost sweet garlic creates a symphony of flavours that elevate the taste to new heights. 

Finally, don’t overlook the importance of the marination time. The longer the chicken marinates, the more flavours it absorbs. So, patience is a virtue here. Allow your chicken to rest and soak up all the delicious marinade, and I promise, the end result will be worth the wait! 

Exploring the Versatility of Chicken Tandoori 

Chicken Tandoori is more than just a dish – it’s an exploration into the heart of Indian cuisine. What I love most about this recipe is its versatility. You can play around with it, mould it to your preferences, and it never loses its charm. Let me share a few of my favourite variations that might inspire you. 

Have you ever thought of going boneless with Chicken Tandoori? While traditional recipes usually call for bone-in pieces like legs or thighs, boneless chicken works great too. It cooks faster, and it’s easier to eat, making it an excellent choice for Tandoori Chicken wraps or salads. 

Another way to switch things up is by experimenting with the heat level. Not everyone has the same tolerance for spices. So, feel free to adjust the quantity of chilli powder and crushed chillies in the recipe.  

If you’re not a fan of too much heat but still want a bit of a kick, chipotle powder is a fantastic alternative. It brings a milder, smoky heat that is absolutely divine. 

Vegetarian or on a plant-based diet? Don’t feel left out! You can still enjoy the robust flavours of Tandoori without the chicken.  

Substitute chicken with paneer (Indian cottage cheese), tofu, or even veggies like cauliflower and bell peppers. The marinade works its magic on these alternatives just as well, providing you with a vegetarian Tandoori treat. 

From tweaking the heat level to going boneless or even vegetarian, Chicken Tandoori embraces it all. And that’s the beauty of this dish. So, don’t be afraid to get creative and make this recipe your own. After all, cooking is all about having fun, isn’t it? 

Decoding the Health Benefits of Chicken Tandoori 

There’s more to Chicken Tandoori than just a burst of flavours. Beneath its fiery red exterior, it’s a goldmine of health benefits. I want to debunk the common misconception that delicious food can’t be healthy. So let’s uncover the nutritional side of our beloved Chicken Tandoori. 

To start with, the star of the show – chicken, is a great source of lean protein. Proteins are vital for the body’s growth, maintenance, and repair. Plus, they keep you feeling full for longer, aiding in weight management. 

The spices used in the recipe are not just flavour enhancers, they bring numerous health benefits to the table too.  

Take turmeric, for instance. This golden spice is renowned for its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, thanks to its active compound curcumin. Cumin seeds, another vital ingredient, aid digestion and could potentially help control blood sugar levels. 

The yoghurt used in the marinade is a probiotic food, meaning it’s good for your gut health. It helps balance the friendly bacteria in your gut, thus boosting overall health. Also, it’s a good source of calcium, which is beneficial for bone health. 

Lastly, using olive or canola oil can add a healthy twist to the recipe. They are rich in monounsaturated fats, which are heart-healthy fats. 

However, like with any food, moderation is key. Chicken Tandoori can be a part of a balanced diet, as long as it’s consumed in reasonable portions. 

A Culinary Journey Through the Indian Subcontinent with Chicken Tandoori 

Chicken Tandoori is not just a dish; it’s a culinary journey that takes you through the Indian subcontinent. Its roots dig deep into the culinary traditions of the region, embodying the flavours and aroma that Indian cuisine is renowned for. 

The history of Tandoori Chicken dates back to the Harappan civilization, but it was Kundan Lal Gujral who put it on the global map in the early 20th century. He introduced the dish at his restaurant, Moti Mahal, in Delhi. It’s been a crowd favourite ever since. 

Chicken Tandoori is a versatile dish, enjoyed in different ways across India. In Northern India, it’s typically served with naan (Indian bread) and a side of mint chutney. Head to the Southern parts, and you might find it paired with coconut chutney and rice. 

The preparation may differ slightly from region to region, but the essence remains the same. Its vibrant colour, smoky flavour, and the succulent chicken legs served right off the grill – it’s this captivating charm that has food enthusiasts worldwide falling in love with Chicken Tandoori. 

Embracing Chicken Tandoori is like embracing Indian culture. It’s a celebration of diversity, colours, and flavours, much like India itself. So the next time you savour this dish, remember, it’s not just a meal, it’s a culinary journey through the heart of India. 

The Role of a Traditional Tandoor in Making Chicken Tandoori 

To truly grasp the essence of Chicken Tandoori, I believe it’s essential to understand the role of a traditional tandoor in its making.  

A tandoor is a cylindrical clay or metal oven used in cooking and baking in the Indian subcontinent. This traditional cooking method is what gives Chicken Tandoori its unique flavour and texture. 

Cooking in a tandoor is quite different from your usual oven or stove-top cooking. The heat from the tandoor sears the surface of the chicken, trapping the juices inside. This results in a smoky, charred exterior and juicy, succulent interior that’s hard to achieve in a regular oven. 

Another unique feature of a tandoor is the high cooking temperature. A tandoor can reach up to 480°C (900°F), much higher than a conventional oven. This high heat is crucial to achieving that iconic char on the chicken while keeping the inside perfectly cooked. 

However, owning a tandoor is not a feasible option for most of us. So, how do we replicate this at home?  

The broiling method in our home ovens is the closest we can get to mimicking the tandoor’s high heat cooking. It provides the intense heat required to give your Chicken Tandoori the much-loved smoky flavour and char. 

Creating a Perfectly Balanced Chicken Tandoori 

Creating the perfect Chicken Tandoori is a balancing act, a dance between flavours and textures. Each element in the recipe plays a critical role, and striking the right balance between them is the key to a successful Chicken Tandoori. 

Let’s start with the chicken. It’s important to use chicken legs for this recipe. Why, you might ask? The answer is simple: flavour. Chicken legs are more flavourful and stay juicy during the high heat cooking, unlike breast meat that might dry out. 

Next up, the marinade. It’s not just about adding the spices; it’s about adding them in the right proportions. Too much chilli powder, and the heat overpowers the other flavours.  

Too little, and the dish loses its zest. Remember, the aim is to create a harmony of flavours where each one complements the other. 

Then comes the cooking method. The high heat cooking in a tandoor or under the broiler creates a crispy, charred exterior while keeping the interior juicy. This contrast of textures is what makes Chicken Tandoori so addictive. 

Lastly, the resting time post-cooking is as crucial as any other step. It allows the juices to redistribute throughout the chicken, making it even more tender and flavourful. 

Mastering these elements might take a few attempts, but don’t be disheartened. Remember, cooking is a journey, not a destination.  

So have fun experimenting, learn from your mistakes, and keep refining your recipe until you create your perfect Chicken Tandoori. After all, perfection lies in the eye (or should I say the taste buds) of the beholder! 

Unravelling the Secret to a Succulent Chicken Tandoori 

I’ve often been asked, “What’s the secret to a succulent Chicken Tandoori?” Well, dear readers, the secret lies in the marinade and marination process. This process forms the backbone of the dish and is instrumental in achieving that fall-off-the-bone, juicy chicken. 

The marinade for Chicken Tandoori is a careful blend of yoghurt and a mix of spices. But why yoghurt, you might wonder? Yoghurt plays a dual role in this dish.  

It acts as a tenderizer, breaking down the proteins in the chicken, making it tender and juicy. At the same time, it acts as a carrier for the spices, helping them permeate deep into the chicken, thus intensifying the flavours. 

The marination time is equally crucial. The longer you marinate, the more flavourful your chicken will be. I suggest marinating the chicken for at least an hour. However, if time permits, marinating overnight would result in an incredibly flavourful and tender chicken. 

The Art of Pairing Sides with Chicken Tandoori 

Chicken Tandoori in itself is a star, but pairing it with the right sides elevates the dining experience to a whole new level. This article will walk you through the art of pairing sides with Chicken Tandoori. 

First up is Naan, a type of Indian bread. The soft, chewy naan pairs wonderfully with the crispy, spicy chicken. It helps balance the heat and provides a delightful contrast of textures. 

Next up is rice. Steamed basmati rice or even biryani rice pairs incredibly well with Chicken Tandoori. The subtle flavours of the rice complement the intense flavours of the chicken. 

Mint chutney is another fantastic accompaniment. The freshness of the mint and the tang from the yogurt in the chutney provide a refreshing counterpoint to the spicy chicken. 

Salads too make for a great side. A simple onion and tomato salad or even a cucumber raita can add a refreshing crunch and help balance the heat. 

It’s this balancing act of flavours and textures that make Chicken Tandoori and its sides a perfect culinary symphony. So next time you whip up some Chicken Tandoori, make sure you spend some time thinking about the sides too. After all, every star deserves a fantastic supporting cast! 

Exploring the Nutritional Value of Chicken Tandoori 

Chicken Tandoori is not just about a flavourful eating experience; it’s a dish that packs a robust nutritional punch. Pardon the pun, but let’s “dig” into the nutritional value of our favourite Chicken Tandoori. 

Starting with the chicken legs, they’re an excellent source of lean protein, which is essential for building and repairing tissues in our body. They also contain essential minerals like zinc, iron, and phosphorus. 

The yoghurt used in the marinade isn’t just there for flavour. It’s a source of probiotics that can aid in digestion. Plus, it’s high in calcium, which is beneficial for bone health. 

The spices are not just flavour agents but bring their own set of health benefits. Turmeric, for instance, has anti-inflammatory properties, while cumin seeds aid in digestion. Chilli peppers, in moderation, are rich in Vitamin C and can help boost immunity. 

However, keep in mind that while Chicken Tandoori can be a part of a balanced diet, moderation is key. Like any dish, consuming it in excessive amounts may not be beneficial. 

Making Chicken Tandoori a Part of Your Festive Spread 

There’s something about Chicken Tandoori that makes it a great fit for festive occasions. Maybe it’s the bold, vibrant colours or the exciting mix of flavours. Whatever it is, Chicken Tandoori can surely make your festive spread more appealing. 

Whether it’s a celebration of a traditional Indian festival like Diwali or Eid, or a western holiday like Christmas or Thanksgiving, Chicken Tandoori can effortlessly fit into the menu. The dish’s versatility allows it to pair well with a variety of other dishes, making it an easy choice for a multi-cuisine spread. 

Consider pairing it with some naan and a vegetable biryani for an Indian feast, or with some roast potatoes and grilled vegetables for a western-style celebration. The choices are endless! 

In the end, what matters is not just the food but the joy of sharing a meal with your loved ones. And Chicken Tandoori, with its inviting aroma and delicious flavours, can surely add to that joy. 

So, the next time you’re planning a festive spread, consider including Chicken Tandoori. Trust me, your guests will love it! 

Check Out These Other Recipes 

As you’ve journeyed with me through the aromatic avenues of Chicken Tandoori, you might just find the call of other delicacies in the realm of Indian cuisine irresistible. Let me tantalize your taste buds with a preview of what you could be whipping up next. 

First, let me introduce you to Chicken Jalfrezi, a dish that’s a delightful medley of chicken chunks and peppers, simmered in a tomato-based sauce. The complex layers of spices create a symphony of flavours that’ll make your senses dance. 

Now imagine biting into succulent Chicken Chapli Kebabs, with a sizzle that speaks the language of culinary decadence. Crafted from ground chicken, seasoned with aromatic spices, and shallow fried to perfection, this delicacy promises an appetizing experience unlike any other. 

Our culinary exploration would be incomplete without the mention of Butter Chicken. Velvety, creamy, and exquisitely flavoured, this curry dish with its tender chicken pieces steeped in a divine tomato cream sauce is sure to become a cherished staple in your kitchen. 

How about we play with textures next? Crispy on the outside and soft on the inside, the Vegetable Pakora can make any day feel festive. This snack-time favourite is a symphony of mixed veggies, held together by a spiced gram flour batter, and deep-fried to achieve that perfect crunch. 

And to finish, let’s speak of Tandoori Lamb Chops – a dish that brings the rustic charm of the tandoor right into your plate. The smoky, succulent lamb chops with charred edges and a tangy spice marination will definitely leave you yearning for more. 

Now, this is just the tip of the culinary iceberg, my friends. The world of Indian appetizers is vast and filled with even more enchanting flavours. Feel free to explore more of these recipes and don’t forget to share your thoughts and experiences in the comments section below. 

Chicken Tandoori

by Nabeela Kauser
Ready to sizzle up your kitchen with the spicy, smoky, and tangy delight of chicken tandoori? Delve into this guide to learn the ins and outs of mastering this delicious dish right at your home. 
5 from 16 votes
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 20 minutes
Marination Time 1 hour
Total Time 2 hours 30 minutes
Course Appetiser
Cuisine Indian
Servings 5
Calories 306 kcal


  • 1 kg Chicken Legs
  • 100 g Yoghurt
  • 1 tbsp Oil
  • 2 tbsp Tandoori Masala
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • 1 tsp Turmeric Powder Haldi
  • 1 tsp Chilli Powder
  • 1 tsp Crushed Chillies
  • 2 tsp Ginger Paste
  • 2 tsp Garlic Paste
  • 1 tsp Lemon Juice
  • 2 tsp Cumin Seeds Jeera


  • In a bowl add all of the ingredients (except the chicken) then whisk until all of the ingredients are fully combined
  • Add the chicken into the marinade then coat each leg piece evenly (see note 1)
  • Set aside and allow to marinade for at least 60 minutes (see note 2)
  • Once ready to cook, preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F) Gas mark 4
  • Line a baking tray with foil and place the marinated chicken legs in a single layer then cover with more foil (see note 3)
  • Bake for 45 minutes then drain any excess juices
  • Remove the foil and broil at 250°C (480°F) Gas mark 9 on the top shelf of the oven for 10 minutes until lightly charred (see note 4)
  • Serve with a side of steamed rice and enjoy!



Note 1 – Depending on the size of the whole chicken legs you may need to make 2-3 incisions on each piece.
Note 2 – It is best to marinate overnight as the longer the chicken is left to marinate the more intense the flavour that develops and the juicier the chicken.
Note 3 – When placing the chicken leave enough space around the chicken pieces to allow the chicken legs to cook evenly.
Note 4 – Be careful to not overbake as this will cause the chicken to go dry. Once cooked, allow the chicken to rest for at least 10 minutes


Calories: 306kcalCarbohydrates: 5gProtein: 20gFat: 22gSaturated Fat: 6gTrans Fat: 0.1gCholesterol: 109mgSodium: 1134mgPotassium: 360mgFiber: 1gSugar: 2gVitamin A: 372IUVitamin C: 2mgVitamin D: 0.1µgCalcium: 57mgIron: 2mg
Keyword Appetiser, BBQ, Chicken
Tried this recipe?Mention @CookwithNabeela or tag #CookwithNabeela!

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Welcome to Cook with Nabeela

Hi, I’m Nabeela and I love to cook! I want to share with you my favourite, delicious family-friendly recipes. I want to inspire you to create fantastic food for your family every day.

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