Tandoori Chicken

Tandoori Chicken hold a special place in my heart. It is linked to one of my favourite uncles and the food memories that cling on to us though life moves on. ⁠

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When we lived in Mumbai, this uncle visited and stayed with us now and then. He enjoyed my mom’s cooking a lot, but made it a point to give her a break by taking us out at least once. ⁠

We went to our favourite restaurant in the Matunga Circle, I think it was called Sher-e-Punjab. And we all shared a dish of Tandoori Chicken and naan.⁠

At that time, the tandoori items were still a new menu to us and we relished it a lot! Only when I grew up, did we start experimenting with it at home.⁠

Now it is all in a days work!⁠ I use a very simple recipe and it is also useful to buy a pack of any tandoori masala. It is still possible to make it without it, but I use it a lot.

Tandoori chicken is placed in a platter with a lot of greens and other vegetables
Serve Tandoori Chicken with salad and vegetables for a healthy meal.

The only thing I am careful about, even if it does have to not look as appetising, is to avoid any food colour. Only the natural colours from the butter and the grill is enough for us!⁠

The Delhi streets are now dotted with these tandoori joints. Tempting and ready to cook cuts of meat are displayed to help people select their favourite kind of kebab.⁠

Mine will always remain the Tandoori Chicken!⁠

Making the Tandoori Chicken

Your preparation will always be a hit if you

  • Get fresh, good quality chicken
  • Ensure your oven is large enough if you want to grill the bird whole
  • Try buying leg pieces if you have a formal or a celebratory get -together
  • Chicken without skin is easier to grill, but the skin does give a characteristic colour and taste.

Marinating the Chicken

Marinate the chicken overnight if possible. Ensure you avoid contaminating the kitchen counter, taps etc. when you handle the chicken.

Applying the lime and the salt

Pierce the chicken pieces all over with a fork. Apply lime juice and salt on the pieces. Lime juice is acidic and it prevents any smells spreading in the kitchen, especially in hot, humid weather.

chicken is marinating in lime and salt
Piercing the chicken helps get the flavours in each bite. Then it is rubbed with lime and salt.

If you are pressed for time, you can mix the lime juice into the main marinade too.

Applying the main marinade

After the lime juice treatment, the chicken is marinated for 4 hours to overnight in the fridge, covered.

The marinade I use is a simple. I add the honey and the soya sauce for colour, thus totally avoiding any artificial colourant.

Marinating ingredients are ready on a steel plate for the tandoori chicken
The ingredients for the main marinade.
chicken is coated in the marinade and is ready to be placed in the fridge, covered
After the marinade is rubbed into the pieces, cover and place in fridge
for at least 4 hours or overnight.
  • Prepare the marinade fresh.
  • If not already pierced with a fork, do so now. Apply the paste on the chicken.
  • If you are using skin-on pieces, ensure that you smear the marinade under the skin also.

Grilling the Tandoori Chicken

The authentic flavour comes when you grill the marinated peices in a clay tandoor (oven). However, you can use the grill mode of your appliances, or even cook it on high heat on your stove top. (see notes)

chciken is placed on the rack in the grill
Remember to baste with butter frequently.

Remember to baste generously with butter every 2-3 minutes.

Keep the temperature of the grill high ( around 250°C) and ensure you do not char the pieces. Also, do not over cook. I follow the ‘8 minutes-turn-6 minutes-turn-3 minutes-turn-3 minutes’ method in my halogen oven, basting with butter frequently.

Tandoori chicken is partially cooked, ready to be basted with butter and turned
Turn the pieces over to ensure even cooking.

In any oven which has a grill function, you will be able to make it in a very authentic manner.


Remember to place a drip tray to collect all the marinade, butter and other drips. Use this to make a gravy for another occasion. Ensure you boil the gravy for at least 6 minutes after adding this.

Tandoori Chicken

Recipe by Sheetal RabindranCourse: SidesCuisine: IndianDifficulty: Medium


Cooking time



Tandoori Chicken is a well-known and dearly loved dish. Try to marinate it overnight for maximum taste!


  • 1 kg Chicken pieces

  • 3-4 tbsp Lime juice

  • 1 tbsp salt

  • 3 tbsp hung curd

  • 1 tbsp Ginger-garlic paste

  • 1 tsp red chilli powder

  • 1 tbsp honey

  • 1 tsp soya sauce

  • 2 tbsp tandoori chicken masala


  • Pierce the chicken pieces all over with a fork.
  • Rub lime juice and salt on them. Leave aside in a cool spot for 15-20 minutes.
  • Now mix the rest of the ingredients together.
  • Rub all over the chicken pieces. Ensure you get it under the skin, and if using an entire bird, also in the cavity.
  • Store in the fridge, for 4 hours or overnight, covered.
  • Heat up the grill. Place the pieces on the rack. Place a drip tray under it to collect the drips (see notes)
  • Baste with butter generously. Grill for 6 minutes on one side or till it turns slightly white.
  • Baste with more butter and turn. Repeat till the pieces are cooked thorough and the juices run clear. (There should be no pinkish fluid when you cut open a piece.)
  • Serve hot, with some lemon wedges, onion rings and chaat masala.


  • For stove top: Place the marinated pieces in a shallow griddle and cook on high heat till all the marinade dries up, turning frequently. Remove the pieces from the pan. Now in another pan, preferably with raised grill marks on it., apply butter and grill till done. Brush butter on it, and turn once in between.
  • In the Halogen oven use the highest setting and grill till done, basting with butter frequently.
  • Make a large batch of this as it can be also used for salads. It tastes amazing in sandwiches and don’t even get me started on butter chicken made with these tandoori chicken pieces!⁠

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