Tandoori Chicken
Indian Recipe

Tandoori chicken is a roasted dish marinated to perfection in two different sauces. While it is traditionally prepared in a clay oven, this recipe is perfectly designed to be just as moist and flavorful made at home. Gobble tandoori up by itself, or use this as a base to make Indian Butter Chicken—but just don’t forget the naan and basmati rice!

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pounds bone-in chicken pieces (2 legs, 2 thighs and breasts, halved)*
Marinade 1: Chili-lime
6 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon salt
~ optional red-orange food coloring mixed with a small amount of water, for painting
Marinade 2: Spiced yogurt
1 cup thick, Greek-style yogurt
1/2 small onion, chopped
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, finely grated**
1 tablespoon crushed garlic**
1-1/2  teaspoon  cayenne pepper
 1  tablespoon  ground coriander
 1  tablespoon  ground cumin
 1/2  teaspoon  ground turmeric
 1  teaspoon  salt
 1  teaspoon  freshly ground black pepper
 3/4  teaspoon  garam masala
 ~  cilantro sprigs
 ~  quartered limes


* American chickens are much meatier than those in India. This recipe works with birds up to 5 pounds.
** Prepared ginger and garlic will work in a pinch, but fresh is always best.


Prepare the chicken

Cut three deep, diagonal gashes in each leg, thigh and breast quarter. Reserve chicken until marinade is prepared.

Note: Cutting the chicken in this manner serves two purposes. It allows the marinade to penetrate the flesh properly and also promotes quicker cooking.

Marinade 1: 15 minutes

  1. Whisk the lime juice, cayenne and salt in a medium bowl.
  2. Add the chicken pieces and turn to coat each thoroughly with marinade. Using clean hands, rub the marinade into the gashes made earlier.
  3. Using a pastry brush, paint the chicken pieces with red-orange food coloring, if desired.
  4. Set aside while you prepare the spiced yogurt marinade.

Marinade 2: 24 hours

Have a wire-mesh strainer ready for step 2. 

  1. Combine the yogurt, onion, ginger, garlic, cayenne pepper, coriander, cumin, turmeric, salt, black pepper and garam masala in a blender. Cover and blend until smooth.
  2. Pour the marinade through a wire mesh strainer set over a spacious bowl. Discard any remaining pulp.
  3. Add the chicken and coat generously with this marinade, being sure to work it into the gashes. Cover with plastic wrap and set in refrigerator for 24 hours.
    Note: A large zip-lock bag also works very well and saves space in the refrigerator.

Cook the chicken

  1. Remove the chicken from the refrigerator and bring to room temperature.
  2. Set oven rack to highest position. Pre-heat the oven to 450°F.
  3. Using clean hands, wipe away any excess marinade from the chicken.
  4. Place the chicken pieces on the rack of a grill pan.

Note: The chicken can also be placed on a metal cake rack set on top of a baking sheet.

  1. Bake chicken for 15 minutes. Flip all pieces and cook for another 20–25 minutes, until the juices run clear.

Note: It is normal for some edges of the chicken to blacken. However, be careful not to overcook the chicken.

  1. Remove from the oven and let chicken rest for 15 minutes.
  2. Arrange on a platter and decorate with cilantro sprigs and quartered limes.
Preparation Time: 
Approximately 45 minutes with 24 hours downtime and 60 minutes roasting and resting.