Let’s Cook! Tandoori Chicken

August 15, 2014

If you’ve been watching any food TV recently, you’ve certainly seen the barrage of ads for the new foodie-film “The HundredFoot Journey” starring the still-so-hot-even-though-she’s-almost-70 Helen Mirren. Based on the novel by Richard C. Morais (which I did read and enjoyed immensely), the film is sure to be full of images to delight anyone who loves to eat, and to cook…

Tandoori Chicken

Tandoori Chicken

In the lead-up to the films debut their social media shared several recipes, both Indian and classical French dishes, reflecting the two main culinary references (and conflict) of the story. I decided to try the Tandoori recipe, which was titled “Tandoori Chicken Wings”, but for some reason the recipe didn’t use wings, but chicken legs (and the accompanying photo also was of legs)… so of course I used thighs… I like thighs…

As usual I did monkey around with the recipe a little, but not too much. The original recipe didn’t call for any marinating time, but most tandoori recipes I’ve seen call for a good time to marinate, and I did overnight to try to better infuse the flavors into the chicken. There’s not much heat in the marinade, but you could certainly up the Capsaicin-ante if you’re so inclined with some cayenne in the marinate.

So let’s delay no further, Let’s Cook!

Tandoori Chicken


Marinade goodies...

Marinade goodies…


2 1/4 tsp  Sweet Paprika

1 Tbl  Garam Masala

1 Tbl  Ground Cumin

1 Tbl  Ground Coriander

1/2 tsp  Ground Turmeric

1 Tbl  Grated Fresh Ginger

5 Cloves Garlic, finely minced

1 Tbl  Lemon Juice (fresh-squeezed, of course)

1/2 tsp  Salt

1/2 tsp  Ground Pepper

1/3 Cup  Plain Greek Yoghurt (I used 2%, but anything from fat-free to full strength should be fine)

1/2 Cup (about)  Canola Oil

3-4 Lbs  Chicken Pieces (I used thighs, see notes at end)

1 Cup  Chopped Cilantro

1 Large Shallot, minced (if they are small, use 2 or 3, duh…)

3 Tbl  White Vinegar



Mix the spices (paprika thru turmeric) and put into a dry skillet and turn the heat to medium-low.

Toastin' the spices...

Toastin’ the spices…

Stir constantly for 2-3 minutes to toast the spice mixture. When it starts to smell good it’s done (if it smells burnt, you screwed up… start over…). Remove to a bowl and let cool for a few…

Mixin' the marinade...

Mixin’ the marinade…

Add the ginger, garlic, lemon juice, salt, pepper, 1 tablespoon of the oil and yoghurt to the toasted spices and mix well.

Meet your meat...

Meet your meat…

To allow the marinade to get inside well (and also to allow the interior of the chicken to cook thru in the high heat), cut several slits into your thighs (the chicken thighs, that is…). Most tandoori recipes call for the chicken to be skinned (and that may be that the skin would burn if cooked in the intense heat a true tandoor oven…), but we likes us some skin around here, so I kept it on… do as you wish…

Throw the chicken into a big zip-loc bag and add the yoghurt marinade and massage in well. Stick in the ‘fridge overnight and turn and massage now & then when you think about it (or whenever you open the door to pull out a beer…).

Ready for the heat...

Ready to meet the heat…

When getting ready to cook preheat oven to 450 degrees and take the chicken out of the refrigerator to allow to come to room temp. Take a big baking sheet (or sheets) with a rack and oil same… rub any overly excess marinade off of the chicken (don’t be too anal about it) and put it on the rack and stick it in the oven.

It will probably take about 30-40 minutes total (until the pieces reach about 160 degrees in the thickest part). You’ll want to turn often, so set a timer to remind you every 8-10 minutes or so…

While to bird is cooking make the sauce to go alongside…



Take the cilantro, shallot, vinegar and 1/4 cup of the oil and mix well. Add salt to taste and set aside.



When the chicken is cooked thru, take out of the oven and turn the broiler on – be sure the chicken is skin-side up (if you kept it on) and stick under the broiler to get extra-nice-and-crispy… watching carefully of course not to let it burn.

Tandoori Chicken

Tandoori Chicken

Let it rest for a few minutes (or as long as you can stand) and serve with the cilantro sauce for dipping or dousing… basmati rice alongside would be nice (maybe a nice batch of Coconut Rice?) and a veggie or two of your choice (here it’s shown with a Simple Roasted Cauliflower, but I think a more saucy-side like Manchurian Cauliflower would probably go better).

As far as your choice of chicken goes, dark meat like thighs and/or legs will hold up well to the high heat cooking, and the wings would work as well… breasts will tend to dry out, but make them if you like and just be sure to pull them out the second they are done.

This recipe would also be great cooked outside on the grill if you can set it up for a high, indirect heat for the main cooking, and then put the pieces over direct heat to crisp up at the end.

Despite the relatively long list if ingredients, this is really a pretty simple dish to prepare, and the results are a deeply flavored flesh along with some yummy crispy skin (if you keep it on). The simple sauce adds a bit of moisture and some extra earthiness from the cilantro. Pour yourself a cold Kingfisher,  pop Monsoon Wedding into the dvd player (at least until The HundredFoot Journey comes out for home viewing) and enjoy a great meal!

As always, we’re back to the kitchen, see you soon!

If you enjoyed this post, please be sure to “like” and “share”!






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