Tandoori Chicken – from scratch

chicken tandoor4


Once my Dad was posted in the northern part of Punjab, a small state in the north-west India, that also borders Pakistan. The people of Punjab are famous for their flamboyant style, hospitality, zest for life and of course food. 75% of North Indian restaurant food menu all over the world consist of dishes that come from this little state alone.


chicken tandoor2


The small ‘dhabas’ or the roadside eateries in Punjab serve the best of the best North Indian cuisine that you can find. Hot from the Tandoor ( a clay oven which uses charcoal for fuel), their chicken is so delicious that you can eat it for days together without ever getting tired of the taste. I had a taste of it when my visited my parents in Pathankot, and it still tickles my taste buds to think of it. Especially their Tandoori chicken – seriously, no one makes it like they do.

It would be presumptuous of me to say that I have been successful in recreating it. However, over the years, trial and error has taught me a couple of recipes that turn out the chicken almost as delectable.


Chicken tandoor 3

It’s an easy dish to make, but the process needs to be diligent. It does take some patience, but the result is so worth it. Marinade the chicken in spices and hung yogurt. You can make hung yogurt by tying about 1-1/2 cups of yogurt in a muslin/thin cloth and hanging it somewhere where it can drip, draining all the water. I hang it on the kitchen sink faucet, letting the water drip in the basin directly. It yields a little more than 1/2 cup of hung yogurt.

hung yogurt

First marinade the chicken in lemon juice and other spices and let it sit for 6-8 hours. Apply yogurt at least an hr before grilling.

marinated chicken1yogurt on chicken marinated

Wrap the chicken leg pieces in individual foil sheets and grill for 20-25 minutes till they are well done. Unwrap and place them on direct grill for about 10 minutes, 5 minutes each side. The interior temperature of the chicken legs should reach 165 degrees F.





5.0 from 4 reviews
Tandoori Chicken - from scratch
Recipe type: appetizer
Cuisine: Indian
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4
  • 4 Whole chicken legs skinned
  • ½ cup lemon juice
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp ginger garlic paste
  • 1 tbsp paprika
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • ½ cup of hung yogurt
Dry roast and grind:
  • 4" stick of cinnamon
  • 2 tbsp cumin
  • 6 black cardamom pods
  • 1 tbsp aniseed
  • Orange food color (optional)
  • Oil for basting
  1. Clean the chicken legs and make diagonal slits
  2. Marinade with lemon juice and salt for 30 minutes.
  3. Add ginger garlic paste to the chicken legs, turning them over till it's nicely covered.
  4. Rub in the dry roast powder and freshly cracked black pepper powder till all are well coated.
  5. Add food color.
  6. Refrigerate for 6-8 or more hours.
  7. Coat well with hung yogurt and refrigerate back for at 30 minutes or more.
  8. Wrap in aluminium foil and cook over charcoal or gas grill till the chicken is cooked through and the juices are running clear.
Note: Wrapping the chicken in foil locks in the moisture and prevents the meat from drying out.
To serve:
  1. Unwrap and place on direct grill and cook for another 10 minutes, 5 on each side till they look nicely browned. Spray or coat with oil to lock the moisture in and prevent the meat from drying out. This also enhances the flavor of the meat.
  2. Check the temperature, the interior should be 165 degree F.
  3. Sprinkle with lemon juice and serve hot with onion/tomato wedges.



27 comments for “Tandoori Chicken – from scratch

  1. February 26, 2013 at 4:46 PM

    My favourite chicken! Love this stuff. I ate the best one in Karachi at Bundu Khan’s I still salivate thinking about it…yum
    Yours is beautiful! Love the colour and it’s perfectly tandoored…yes, I made up a word.
    Did you have it with naan?

    Nazneen xx
    Coffee and Crumpets recently posted..White Whole Wheat RollsMy Profile

    • February 27, 2013 at 11:48 AM

      Thanks so much Nazneen. We mixed it up, lol. We had Tandoori on one side, and then spicy hot pasta in red chili sauce on the other. Weird, I know. But it was great food.
      Minnie recently posted..Tandoori Chicken – from scratchMy Profile

  2. February 26, 2013 at 6:43 PM

    this is cool!! how do you manage to prepare the dishes you ate long ago? you are too good at it!!

    • February 27, 2013 at 11:49 AM

      Never gave it a thought honestly. I do have a very good long term memory – like I can remember stuff I did when I was 3 years old (though I randomly forget where I kept my car keys). That might explain it.

  3. February 26, 2013 at 7:58 PM

    Thank you Minnie! This is great! I always thought that you needed a tandoor oven to make really good tandoori chicken but yours looks delectable! 😀
    Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella recently posted..Earth To Table, Bondi JunctionMy Profile

    • February 27, 2013 at 11:51 AM

      Regular grill works as well. Thanks Lorraine, I am glad 🙂

  4. Shantanu Bagchi
    February 26, 2013 at 10:49 PM

    The last photograph, even early morning I feel like having a share. Mukhe jol…………sigh!

    • February 27, 2013 at 11:52 AM

      hahahha!! One day when we meet, remind me to treat you to some.

  5. February 27, 2013 at 6:55 AM

    Your tandoori chicken looks amazing. I can practically smell it. This is one of my most favourite Indian recipes and I order it whenever I’m in an Indian restaurant. I love how you cooked it – it looks so full of flavour and moist xx
    Hotly Spiced recently posted..Gluten-Free Nutella Slice and…The Naenae PoolMy Profile

    • February 27, 2013 at 11:53 AM

      Tandoori is an all time favorite in our house too. Good part is this is really healthy food, all protein and very little fat.

  6. February 27, 2013 at 1:19 PM

    This looks really delicious and well worth the effort with the yogurt. Great colour I can almost taste it off the screen! GG

    • February 27, 2013 at 3:16 PM

      Thanks so so much GG 🙂 I must confess, I didn’t have much to do with it. I used a great quality food color 😀

  7. February 27, 2013 at 3:42 PM

    I was looking at your ingredient list and made me drool and even that made me drool… I’ve used shaan (or was it Shan…forgot) tandoori chicken mix before but next time I should make it from scratch! Perfectly grilled Tandoori chicken. So yummy!
    Nami | Just One Cookbook recently posted..Green Tea Crème Brûlée 抹茶クレームブリュレMy Profile

    • February 27, 2013 at 4:28 PM

      Thanks so much Nami 🙂 I hope you find it good 😀

  8. CCU
    February 27, 2013 at 3:42 PM

    Tandoori chicken has never looked so good, my brother will freak 😀

    Choc Chip Uru
    CCU recently posted..Driving Baby!My Profile

    • February 27, 2013 at 4:29 PM

      Thanks so much Uru!!!!

  9. March 2, 2013 at 2:55 AM

    I’ve been looking for a good recipe for tandoori chicken. Thank you so much!
    ChgoJohn recently posted..Grilled Salted Cod — Baccala alla GrigliaMy Profile

    • March 4, 2013 at 7:32 PM

      Thanks so much!! I hope you like it.

  10. March 7, 2013 at 5:07 PM

    Looks absolutely amazing. I could tuck into this now.
    David Crichton recently posted..BlogiversaryMy Profile

    • March 7, 2013 at 10:51 PM

      Thank you so much David 🙂

  11. SSS
    April 1, 2013 at 2:39 PM

    I tried this one and it turned out to be amazing… Thx a lot Minnie:)

    • April 1, 2013 at 2:59 PM

      Thank you so much!!! You made my day 🙂

  12. June 6, 2013 at 12:28 AM

    What a presentation! looks amazing and perfect..
    Asiya Omar recently posted..Coconut Milk UpmaMy Profile

  13. shimmy
    November 26, 2013 at 6:09 PM

    Hello! I was wondering if the results would be fairly similar if I put the chicken in the oven instead of a grill? Thank you!

    • November 26, 2013 at 7:04 PM

      Oven tends to release juice and alter the taste. But you could bake them for 30 minutes at 350 and then broil them for the charred taste.

  14. savitha
    February 19, 2015 at 12:57 PM

    Beautifully grileld chicken. Lovely.

Comments are closed.