Tandoori Chicken

Tandoori Chicken is one of the most popular Indian dishes outside India. In Northern India, it is prepared in the traditional clay oven called “Tandoor”. Since none of us own Tandoors, this is the closest you can get to the earthy, smoky flavors of Tandoori Chicken. Note that marination is the key. The more you allow the chicken to marinate, the better it will taste. Enjoy the Indian Classic!

  • 1 1/2 pounds skinless chicken legs with bones (can have thighs and drumsticks separated


  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt

  • ¾ teaspoon ground cumin

  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander

  • 2 large garlic cloves, roughly chopped

  • ½ inch fresh ginger root, roughly chopped

  • 1 small red onion, roughly chopped

  • ½ cup whole milk Greek yogurt

  • 2 tablespoon lemon juice

  • ½ teaspoon Kashmiri chili powder

  • 1 teaspoon Garam Masala (store bought or homemade, with recipe given in Tips)

  • 1/8 teaspoon orange food color (if you must have the traditional orange color)

  • 2 tablespoon ghee (clarified butter), divided

  • Lemon wedges, sliced white onion, and cilantro sprigs for garnish

Cooking Instructions

Makes 2 to 3 servings

  1. Wash and pat dry the chicken with paper towel thoroughly. Make 1 inch long incisions on the flesh, taking care not to cut through the bone.

  2. Blend all ingredients of marinade in a food processor until a smooth paste is formed.

  3. Put the chicken and the marinade in a re-sealable plastic bag. Close the bag and rub the marinade into the chicken to coat it completely.

  4. Remove the excess air from the plastic bag and flatten it before resealing. This will assure that the chicken pieces remain covered with the marinade from all sides.  Keep the chicken in the refrigerator for a minimum of 8 hours, ideally for over 12 hours. Flip the bag upside down a few times.

  5. Preheat oven at 400 degrees F.

  6. Preheat the Chef Avenue Carbon Steel Skillet on cook-top for 5 minutes on high heat. Add 1 tablespoon of ghee to the pan and spread it to cover the base of the pan. Immediately place the chicken pieces, making sure that they are not crowded. Let the chicken sear for 3 minutes on high heat.

  7. Melt the remaining ghee for 20 seconds in the microwave and drizzle it over the raw side of the chicken.

  8. Turn the chicken pieces and sear for 2 minutes.

  9. Transfer the skillet to the oven. Bake the chicken for 15 to 20 minutes. If you have a meat thermometer, insert it in the middle of the thickest flesh to see if the temperature is 165 degrees F or more. Otherwise, poke the thickest part with a small pointed knife to make sure that the juices run clear (and not reddish).

Serving Suggestions

Serve hot with plain Naan, garlic Naan, salad, or rice pilaf. Garnish with sprigs of cilantro, slices of white onions, and lemon wedges. If you like, you can whip up a quick cilantro chutney to serve with the chicken. Blend 1 cup of packed roughly chopped cilantro, ½ Serrano chili pepper, 1 teaspoon lemon juice, and 1/4 teaspoon salt until smooth. Add 1 or 2 teaspoons of water to help with blending.  


You may serve with cool Cucumber Raita if you like. Mix 1 cup of grated English cucumber in 1 cup of whole milk Greek yogurt, ½ teaspoon salt, ¼ teaspoon crushed black pepper. Your Raita is ready.

Deep red Kashmiri chili powder.jpg

Deep red Kashmiri chili powder

  • Garam Masala (literally translates into Warming Spice Mix) is available online or in Asian markets. If you feel adventurous and would like to make your own Garam Masala, it’s not at all difficult. You just need to have the right ingredients and some way to turn them into a powder. You can make larger quantities, put it in 2 layers of re-sealable plastic bags (so that the fragrance does not leak out), and store it in the refrigerator for several months or in the freezer for 1 to 2 years.

    Garam Masala Recipe (Yields 6 Tablespoons)

    4 dry bay leaves, roughly broken into pieces
    2 teaspoons whole black peppercorns
    14 green cardamom pods, seeds removed and pods discarded
    4 teaspoons coriander seeds
    3 teaspoons cumin seeds
    3-inch piece of cinnamon, roughly broken into pieces
    2 teaspoons cloves


  • Preheat Chef Avenue Carbon Steel Skillet on medium heat for 3 minutes. Lower the heat to a minimum. Dry-roast all spices in the skillet for 1 to 2 minutes on low heat, until the spices are fragrant. Remove onto a plate and let it cool. Grind the spices into a fine powder in a spice grinder or in mortar and pestle.