Tandoori Chicken - an iconic restaurant style smoky grilled chicken appetizer dish. It's authentic, easy and the best.
This is definitely going to become your one of the favourite chicken recipes this winter season.
Oh yes! Make it in an oven or gas stove, airfryer or instant pot, you are going to love it in every way.
Often it tends to happen that we crave for tandoori dishes and most of the time it's tandoori chicken.
Not to mention, almost all the non-vegetarians would have had a piece of it. Isn't it? And still would be wanting more.
Most of the time, my family particularly asks me to make it at home. Believe me, they can eat it almost every day. They are so much fond of this delicious smoky grilled chicken legs.
Undoubtedly, it is an easy and the best recipe that I am sharing here. And, there is absolutely no secret of any store bought tandoori masala behind it. At home, it easily comes together without any fuss.
In this process, nothing is complicated at all. And I swear, this is no philosophy but truth. And so, returning back to the ocean of flavors and masalas let’s get into the waves.
About the recipe
Tandoori chicken is a crazy good and smoky chicken appetiser that you will love truly. Traditionally, it is prepared by roasting or grilling the marinated chicken in a clay oven or tandoor.
The marinade consists of thick yogurt (curd/dahi), few handy basic spices and powders and the secret star ingredient - Mustard oil.
Now, let me disclose this to you. In restaurants, chefs use mustard oil for most of the tandoori and tikka recipes.
Myself being from the family of chefs and great home cooks, we all have been following this tip since many years.
The Indian restaurants and the dhabas makes the use of red food colour in the marinade. The addition of food color gives nice bright and fiery red appeal to the tandoori chicken.
But, the recipe that I am sharing with you today has no artificial colour at all. All that beautiful red colour you see here is due to the use of good quality Kashmiri red chili powder.
The marination actually is done in two steps - the first marination and the second marination. The double marination process gives the best result.
As we proceed further, I shall show every step in detail to make the best tandoori chicken recipe at home.
Don't you have modern oven or traditional clay oven at home? Do not worry! Go on ahead to make it on gas stove in grilling pan or regular pan.
There will be NO disappointment ever and of course there will be no looking back.
Because, you will find this one to be the best than the other tandoori recipes on the net. And I don't make false claims. 🙂
This Chicken Recipe is
- Easiest and the Tastiest.
- Without any artificial food colour.
- Traditional and authentic version.
- Low in carbs.
- Keto friendly.
- Gluten free.
- Exactly like that of Indian restaurants or Dhabas.
- Can easily be made in clay tandoor, in oven, on a gas stove in pan, in air fryer, Instant pot or Mealthy multipot.
The best chicken pieces for this recipe
Traditionally and ideally, the best chicken cut to go for is the whole chicken legs (chicken drumsticks with thigh).
Do you know why? Because, that cut of chicken meat has higher fat content making it juicy, moist and more flavourful.
However, you can also go for chicken breasts for the healthier version. All you need to do is follow the same procedure, thats it. Cooking time in the may vary couple of minutes here and there.
How long should we marinate the chicken?
As we do the two marinations here in this process, let the first marination be for 45 minutes - 1 hour under refrigeration. But, nothing less than at least 30 minutes only in the case of strict crunch of time.
For second marination time, please let the chicken peacefully rest in the yogurt and spices for good 8 hours or overnight under refrigeration.
Similarly, only in strict case of short of time, still I would insist you to let it marinate for minimum 4 hours.
Honestly, I do not really want to compromise on it's flavors. So, I always go for at least 45 mins of first marination time and 8 hours for second marination time.
Storage and freezing this grilled chicken
Now, honestly, if we talk about freezing the cooked or grilled chicken here, then I would strictly say NO.
Rather, I would highly recommend you to freeze the marinated chicken in the freezer in a clean air tight container or zip pouches in portions.
Whenever, you plan to have a meal with it, thaw it overnight in the refrigerator or for few hours on the counter. Go on ahead with cooking as per the method you prefer and then enjoy.
Marinated chicken stay very well in the freezer for good 2-3 months.
Important Tips to follow
Always, clean and wash the chicken pieces well.
Ensure to pat dry the chicken meat to avoid any excess liquid in to it.
Always, use sharp knife to make deep cuts on meat pieces. The cuts ensures the deep penetration of marinade making it perfect and juicy.
The secret behind the best tandoori chicken recipe is it's marination process and the use of mustard oil. So follow the two step marination exactly the way mentioned below.
Always use thick curd, either the hung curd or the greek yogurt to make the marinade.
If you do not have the access to Kashmiri red chili powder, use any medium hot chili powder to the marinade. You can also choose to use smoked paprika powder or cayenne pepper as well.
For the best taste and flavors, make sure to use mustard oil only. However, if it not available in your part of the world, then you can go ahead to use any vegetable oil of choice. You can use melted butter as well.
The longer you marinate the chicken, the better will be the flavor always. So, follow the marination time accordingly. If, in case you have the crunch of time, then try to marinate it for minimum 4 hours at least.
Let me tell you the secret that I follow most of the time to make the tandoori chicken smoky. I always prefer to give charcoal dhungar just before grilling/cooking them or right after the cooking is over.
So, the either way works best and you get nice smoky murgh tandoori at home.
Side dish to serve
You can also, serve it with nan or or any Indian flat bread. Enjoy it on its own as an appetiser/starter with chutney.
Step by step instructions
For the recipe, we need to do the double marination as mentioned above in the post. The method involves the series of steps that I shall be mentioning in detail below.
So, here's how to make the best tandoori chicken at home in 4 ways.
Preparation of Marinade
To start off, First, clean, wash and make cuts on the chicken using a sharp knife. (photo 1)
For the 1st marination process, we need - Ginger garlic paste, Kashmiri red chili powder, lemon juice and salt. In a large bowl, whisk all these 5 ingredients and mix well. (photo 2 and 3)
Add chicken and mix it very well in the marinade, then, cover the bowl with a plastic cover and leave it for 45-1 hour under refrigeration. (photo 4)
Coming to the second marination of chicken, we need - Roasted cumin powder, ginger paste and garlic paste, Kashmiri red chili powder, Coriander Powder, Garam masala powder, thick or hung yogurt (curd), black salt and pepper powder, Mustard oil.
In another bowl, add all the ingredients of a second marination and mix it very well. (photo 5 and 6)
Once the first marination is done, transfer the chicken in this second marinade. (photo 7)
Cover the second bowl also with a plastic cover and refrigerate for 7-8 hours or overnight. (photo 8)
Note: Remove the marinated meat from the refrigerator 45 minutes before you plan to cook it.
Smoking the marinated Chicken
Now comes the interesting part, if you wish to give smoky flavor to the dish, then simply give the charcoal smoke to the marinated chicken just before cooking it.
Place a small steel bowl oven the chicken and put 1 teaspoon of ghee over the live charcoal. Immediately cover the bowl with lid and allow it to rest for 8-10 minutes. (photo 1 and 2).
However, you can choose to do this charcoal smoking step after the meat is cooked.
But, personally I prefer doing this process before cooking it in the oven or pan or instant pot or air fryer.
How to bake it in the oven?
If you do not have Tandoor oven or Angethi (Coal Barbecue), it is totally okay. But, if you have an oven, you have the right alternative to make this tandoori chicken recipe.
Pre-heat the oven at 220 degrees centigrade.
Remove the chicken from the marinade and arrange it on a baking tray or a wire rack. Photo 1 and 2.
Note : If you are placing it on a wire rack, then place the dripping tray under the rack to collect the dripping over it. You can even line a baking sheet and use it.
Grill the chicken in the oven for 25-30 minutes and then broil it for 5-7 minutes.
Note: Turn the chicken once in a half way of grilling (after 15 minutes).
The chicken is ready to serve. Photo 3.
How to make it on gas stove in pan?
If you can’t resist roast chicken and you don’t have an oven either, do not worry at all. You must be having a gas stove at home.
You may use a roasting grill. This roast grill is easily available in the supermarkets. So, fetch one and place it over your burner.
Having said that, if you do not have a roast grill, thats fine, simply cook it in a pan and give charcoal smoke in the end.
Furthermore, make a note to place a foil beneath the stove to avoid the platform getting oily and greasy.
Firstly, heat the pan, and place the chicken on it. Photo 1.
Then cover and cook until done, do flip it once in between. Photo 2.
Grease the grill with oil so that the cooked chicken pieces does not stick over the grill. Place the cooked meat upon the grill and turn the flame to medium high. Then grill from both the sides until it is slight charred and release smoky aroma. Photo 3 and 4.
How to make it in the Airfryer?
You can also place the marinated chicken pieces in an air fryer if you possess one.
First, pre-heat the airfryer at 200 degrees. Then, brush the airfryer basket with little oil or butter.
Arrange the marinated chicken in the basket and air fry it 20 minutes or until charred. (you can flip it once in between).
How to make it in the Instant Pot?
First, follow the marination step as mentioned above.
If you see the photo 1 and 2 below, I have placed the trivet first, then I have placed a basket over the trivet. So, basically, you can either cook the chicken by placing it on trivet directly or in the basket. Either of the two works well. Photo 1 and 2.
Now, add 1 cup of water in the inner pot of the IP. Then, place the trivet in the pot. Place the marinated chicken on the trivet, I have used fryer basket. Photo 3.
It is absolutely fine if stack on each other, if you are making it in a little larger batch.
Close the IP with lid, put the valve to sealing position and then pressure cook on high for 12 minutes. Photo 4.
Once the IP beeps, turn the valve to vent, quickly release the pressure and open the pot. Photo 5 .
Note: Now, if you wish to serve it as it is, then carefully dish out the chicken using tongs, sprinkle some chaat masala and serve.
For crispier chicken, you can follow the either way.
a) arrange them on the tray and pop it in pre-heated oven and broil for fo 7-8 minutes, until charred.
b) Use Mealthy crisp lid to make them more crisp and delicious.
Unplug the IP and plug the mealthy crisp lid, place it on the inner pot of IP. You need to lower the handle of the crisp lid. Now, set the temperature to 200 degrees. Photo 6.
Cook the chicken for 12 minutes. (As I love the crispier chicken, I cooked it for couple of more minutes extra)
You can flip it once in between - first cook for 5-6 minutes on one side. Then, flip and cook for another 5-6 minutes on the other side. Crisp outer, so juicy within makes it outrageously delicious!
Dish out, sprinkle some chaat masala over it and serve along with chutney, onion rings and rice or naan.
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This post has been updated from the archives, was first published in March 2013.
Tandoori Chicken Recipe
- 1 Kg Chicken Legs de-skinned and trimmed fat, cut into serving pieces
For first marinade
- 1 tablespoon Ginger Garlic Paste
- 2-3 teaspoon Kashmiri Chili Powder ( I have added 1 tablespoon)
- 1 tablespoon Lemon Juice
- Salt To Taste
For second marinade
- 300 grams Greek Yogurt / Hung Curd
- 1 tablespoon Ginger Garlic Paste
- 2-3 teaspoons Kashmiri Red Chili Powder (or any chilli powder that gives good colour)
- 1 teaspoon Coriander Powder
- 1 teaspoon Garam Masala Powder
- 3/4 teaspoon Black Salt or regular salt
- 1/2 teaspoon Black Pepper Powder
- 1 teaspoon Cumin Powder
- ½ cup Mustard Oil
- Red Food Colour (optional) I have not used any food colour in this recipe
For Instant Pot Version Only
- 1 cup Water
Preparation of Marinade
- Clean, wash and make cuts on the chicken using a sharp knife. This will help the marinade to penetrate well in the chicken
- In a large bowl, mix all the ingredients of first marinade. (ginger garlic paste, Kashmiri red chili powder, lemon juice and salt)
- Add chicken and mix it very well in the marinade.
- Cover the bowl with a plastic cover and leave it for 45 minutes - 1 hour under refrigeration.
- In another large bowl, add all the ingredients of second marinade and mix it very well.
- After a first marination is done, transfer the chicken in this second marinade. Cover the bowl with a cling film cover and refrigerate for 7-8 hours or overnight.
How To Make Tandoori Chicken
- Take the chicken out 30-45 minutes prior to cooking.
- Grill it either on a charcoal grill (tandoor) or in Oven or on gas stove. Here I have chosen to do it by roasting in the oven.
To Bake It In The Oven
- Pre-heat the oven at 220 degrees centigrade. Remove the chicken from the marinade and place it on a baking tray or a rack.
- Grill the chicken for 25 minutes and then broil it for 5 minutes or till done.
On Gas Stove
- First, heat the pan, and place the chicken on it.
- Then cover and cook until done, do flip it once in between.
- Grease the grill with oil so that the chicken does not stick over the grill. Place the chicken pieces upon the grill and turn the flame to medium high.
- Grill from both the sides until aromatic. Tandoori chicken is ready to serve.
In The Airfryer
- First, pre-heat the airfryer at 200 degrees. Then, brush the airfryer basket with little oil or butter.
- Arrange the marinated chicken in the basket and airfry it 25 minutes or until charred. (you can flip the chicken once in between).
In The Instant Pot or Mealthy Multipot
- Add 1 cup of water in the inner pot of the IP. Then, place the trivet in the pot. Place the marinated chicken on the trivet.
- Close the IP with lid, put the valve to sealing position and then pressure cook on high for 12 minutes.
- Once the IP beeps, turn the valve to vent and quickly release the pressure and open the pot.
- Carefully dish out the chicken using tongs, sprinkle some chaat masala and serve.
- For crispier chicken, you can follow the either way.a) arrange them on the tray and pop it in pre-heated oven and broil for 7-8 minutes, until charred.b) Use Mealthy crisp lid to make them more crisp and delicious.
Crisping The Chicken Using Mealthy Crisp Lid
- Unplug the IP and plug the mealthy crisp lid, place it on the inner pot of IP. You need to lower the handle of the crisp lid. Now, set the temperature to 200 degrees.
- Cook the chicken for 12 minutes. (As I love the crispier chicken, I cooked it for couple of more minutes extra)
- You can flip the chicken once in between - first cook for 5-6 minutes on one side. Then, flip and cook for another 5-6 minutes on the other side.
- Sprinkle some chaat masala over it, and serve along with mint chutney, lemon wedges and onion rings. Enjoy it as is or pair it with some naan bread or saffron rice.