Tandoori chicken is undoubtedly the most popular chicken appetizer recipe from Indian cuisine and it has got its reason for being there! It is absolutely delicious! Period!
Sometimes I don’t understand myself! Really! I don’t understand why I didn’t post the ubiquitous tandoori chicken recipe until now! I have prepared this quintessential tandoori chicken so many times that I have actually forgot the count. Now this is so obvious, I mean, who doesn’t like tandoori chicken? Tell me a single name! It is a super favorite chicken recipe of my family and mine too. I can name it as the “king of kebabs” and that is not an exaggeration! Tandoori chicken is best made with the full chicken leg i.e. the drumsticks joint with the thigh. This is undoubtedly the tastiest part of chicken thanks to its high fat content and the tandoori marinate penetrates really well into the nooks & crannies of drumsticks & thighs. The meat of this portion is juicy and soft which creates a killer stuff once the tandoori chicken is grilled.
To make the restaurant style tandoori chicken you would need to ensure that you marinate the chicken in the spice infused yogurt for at least 4 hours or preferably overnight; this is totally non-negotiable if you want the best flavor of tandoori chicken. The yogurt softens the chicken while marinating and helps penetrate the flavors of the spices deep into the meat which eventually translates into best tasting tandoori chicken you would have ever made or tasted. Also, make sure to use hung curd for best possible result with your tandoori chicken. Hung curd is nothing special. To make your hung curd, tie the curd tightly in a muslin cloth and squeeze out all water, then hung it overnight to let all excess water drip off leaving you with the thick & creamy curd. If you do not use hung curd, the marinate will contain too much water diluting the flavors of the spices; plus, the marinate wont stick to the chicken nicely resulting into a not-so-good tandoori chicken which no one desires.
Tandoori chicken demands a significant quantity of Kashmiri red chili powder which not only adds flavor but also add bright red color. While choosing the Kashmiri red chilli powder, make sure you use the authentic stuff which doesn’t not contain much heat; otherwise your tandoori chicken will turn out to be too hot to handle! Now, to enhance your tandoori chicken from homemade to restaurant style, you will have to add a bit of red food color which will lend a chique look to your already tasty tandoori chicken! That vibrant red color is the USP of this flagship recipe of tandoori chicken and if you use organic food color which is available these days in the market, there is nothing to worry about. We always consume some food colors and what not while eating out, don’t we? So, don’t be intimidated by food color in the list of ingredients; it’s perfectly fine!
This tandoori chicken recipe is fail-proof and I can guarantee you that! I have made this tandoori chicken at home uncountable times and it had never disappointed me. So, I blindly can tell you that it’s gonna surely impress your friends and family and you will be the star of the show! Just look at those gorgeous tandoori chicken pieces and tell me honestly – aren’t you already tempted? I have actually started salivating even looking at these pictures! Okay, let’s focus! Tandoori chicken is also great for outdoor barbecue parties. The charcoal grill will infuse a beautiful smoky aroma to the chicken pieces which may be little difficult to replicate in your indoor oven. I made my tandoori chicken in my trusty oven though and to get the charred effect on the edges, I broiled the chicken for last 4 to 5 minutes. Do keep an eye while broiling as it may burn quickly if not pulled out on time. Enjoy!
- Full chicken legs – 6 (1.5 kg)
- Kashmiri red chilli powder – 2 tbsp
- Lemon – 1
- Oil – 2 tbsp
- Ginger paste – 1 tbsp
- Garlic paste – 1 tbsp
- Hung yogurt/Greek yogurt – ½ cup
- Kashmiri red chilli powder – 2 tbsp
- Kasoori methi (Dry fenugreen leaves) – 1 tbsp
- Garam masala – 2 tsp
- Roasted cumin powder – 2 tsp
- Coriander powder – 2 tbsp
- Vegetable oil – 4 tbsp
- Red food color (optional) – 4 to 6 drop but totally depends on the texture and quality of the color you are using
- Salt to taste
- Chat masala – ½ tsp
- Oil or melted butter for basting
- To make hung yogurt, tie the plain yogurt in a muslin cloth and hang it over a bowl or kitchen sink for 2 to 3 hours so that all the water drips out and you are only left with the thick yogurt.
- Wash and pat dry the chicken pieces thoroughly so that no moisture is left. Make multiple incisions on them so that the marinade can go deep inside.
- There are two marinates for this recipe. Prepare the first marinade by mixing together 2 tablespoons of Kashmiri red chilli powder, juice of 1 lemon, ginger-garlic paste and 2 tablepoons of oil.
- Massage this marinate into the chicken pieces making sure to go deep inside the incisions you had made. Set aside for 30 minutes.
- Prepare the second marinate in the meantime with the ingredients listed under Tandoori marinade. In a bowl, combine the hung yogurt, chilli powder, roasted cumin powder, coriander powder, garam masala, kasoori methi, oil and salt to taste and whisk thoroughly so that all the spices blend well. Finally add the red food color and give a vigorous mix since it takes time to mix food color thoroughly.
- Take the chicken legs out of the first marinate after 30 minutes. Now rub the second marinade on them again making sure that it goes inside the incisions. Coat all the pieces with a thick layer of marinade. Cover with a cling film and keep inside the refrigerator for at least 4 hours or preferably overnight (8 to 12 hours).
- Preheat the oven to 220 C/425 F. Line a baking tray with aluminum foil and place a grill rack on top of the baking tray. Place the marinated chicken on this grill rack.
- Now place this grill rack with the chicken at the middle level of the oven and place the lined baking tray below to catch all the drips. Bake the chicken for 35 to 40 minutes. Then take the grill rack out, turn the chicken over and broil for another 35 to 40 minutes or until the chicken is all cooked through. Keep checking after every 15 minutes since it may take less time if you are using lesser quantity.
- Baste them with oil or melted butter after every 10 minutes. You can’t skip the basting as it would prevent the chicken from turning dry. [You can even grill the chicken on an outdoor grill on high heat for almost same duration.]
- After about 80 minutes, check if the chicken is done – there should not be any traces of pink and the juices should run clear and a toothpick could be inserted very smoothly without any resistance from meat. If you have a food thermometer, check if the temperature registers at least 165 F when inserted into the thickest part of the leg. If yes, your tandoori chicken is done!
- Move the grill rack with chicken at the top-most level of your oven and turn on the broil mode which is nothing but directing the heat from top as it gives the authentic charred effect to the chicken and adds some smokiness to it. Broil the chicken for 2 minutes each side always keeping an eye on them as it may burn pretty quickly.
- Take them out and let the chicken rest for 5 to 10 minutes before serving. Then sprinkle some chat masala on top and serve your yummy tandoori chicken with lemon wedges and coriander-mint chutney.