There are only three secrets to cooking good Tandoori meats, including chicken. The first is the use of
the special clay Tandoor oven, which not many people have in their homes. The second is the special
Tandoori coloring, a rich red color imparted to the
meat. But for me, the third secret is the most
important to learn is the special yogurt marinade
used to flavor the meat. Here are the ingredients
and method to create delicious Tandoori Chicken at
For the Tandoor oven, we can substitute the barbecue grill or the oven. For the coloring, you may be
able to find special Tandoori food coloring at a local Indian grocery store or online. Or you can try substituting
a combination of red and orange/yellow food coloring until you get the color you want. Many Tandoori recipes
call for meat tenderizer but I omit this. I was never able to control its use; most of the time it would over
tenderize and make the surface (only) of the chicken mushy. Its omission has no downside in my opinion since
if you cook the chicken correctly it will be very tender. There is no substitute for the marinade which is
3-4 pounds (approx) chicken pieces, bone-in. Alternatively, use boneless skinless chicken breasts cubed
For the marinade:
¼ cup fresh lemon juice
2 large fresh garlic cloves, peeled and chopped fine
1 tablespoon fresh ginger root, peeled and chopped fine
1 teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon ground cardamom
½ teaspoon ground red chili pepper
1 teaspoon tandoori coloring, or substitute paprika
1/3 cup plain yogurt
Combine well all the ingredients for the marinade and let stand for a few minutes for the flavors to
combine. Be careful with the food coloring since it can stain your fingers.
Remove the skin from the chicken pieces. For a traditional Indian look, slash each piece 2-4 times with
a knife to create just ¼ to ½ inch deep slashes. This will give a traditional look plus allow the marinade to
contact more of the chicken.
Add the chicken to the marinade and coat all the pieces. You need to let the chicken marinate for at
least a couple of hours in the refrigerator. It's ok to let it marinate all day or overnight. Be sure to stir the
chicken a couple of times during this time.
After just a couple of hours, the chicken is ready to cook. You can use a regular oven to roast the
chicken in a 350 degree oven for 35-45 minutes or until it is just cooked through. It is very important not to
overcook chicken because it gets dry and tough very soon after it is cooked through. Alternatively, you can grill
this chicken on a barbeque grill, basting once or twice with a light cooking oil like canola oil.
All cooking times are estimations because your oven and barbeque may be much hotter or colder than
mine. Please take care to cook the chicken thoroughly, but not so much as to dry it out.
If by chance (not likely!) you do not finish all your Tandoori Chicken you can use the leftovers in a Butter