Tandoori Chicken (Indian Chicken Roast)

Difficulty: intermediate

A tandoor is a type of oven, imagine a big pit lined with bricks with an open fire below. It is used to make a variety of flatbreads or roasting meats in South and Central Asia. Tandoori chicken originated from the Indian Subcontinent and quite obviously needs to be roasted in any kind of oven. I’m obviously referring to Gordon Ramsay’s pan fried abomination, but it’s not the like this is the first time the English have shown complete disregard for Indian traditions. This recipe requires a lot of South Asian spices which might not be readily available from Dollar General (your regular grocery and clothing store) and require a lot of investment. I have all of them because I cook a lot of Indian food and this method is much cheaper in the long run, but if you are just making this once to impress that Indian girl who friend-zoned you ages ago then I suggest you go to your local Indian store and purchase a single box of ready-made Tandoori Masala. Shaan is by far the best tasting and only costs $1.25. Lets begin!


1 kg chicken drumsticks, boneless (about 8 pieces)

2 tsp garam masala

1 tsp turmeric powder

2 tsp coriander powder

2 tsp red chili powder (Indian variant)

2 tsp smoked paprika powder

1 tsp salt

1 tsp black pepper (optional)

1 tsp cumin seeds

1 cup yogurt (or 1/2 cup sour cream)

1 tbsp ginger paste or finely chopped ginger

1 tbsp garlic paste or finely chopped garlic

2 tbsp lemon juice

1 drop red food coloring (optional)

3 tbsp oil

1 onion for garnish (optional)

0.5 cup vinegar for garnish (optional)



Heat a frying pan on low heat and dry roast all the spices (garam masala, turmeric, coriander, red chili, paprika, salt, pepper, cumin seeds) for a couple minutes until you can smell the spices in your kitchen and maybe even in your clothes. This is the reason why brown people smell like curry all the time. Majority of the recipes I’ve come across on the internet say to fry the spices in about a table spoon of oil to activate them, I tried that and the spices began to smoke and my lungs began to burn and I couldn’t breath. Not something I would tell others to do.


After the spices are “activated”, mix it with the lemon juice, yogurt, ginger paste, and garlic paste. Turmeric powder has a natural yellow dye in them and my Indian red chili powder (also called Lal Mirch) has a red dye added to it so I do not need to add any thing for that radioactive orange glow. If your red chili powder isn’t already dyed, then add a drop of red food coloring at this stage.


Clean the chicken drumsticks and make deep incisions about 1/2 inch apart. This will increase the surface area and allow for more even marination.


Now mix that marinate with the chicken, and I mean use your hands and massage that meat like a Swedish lady. Twenty seven years of practice has led me to this moment. Refrigerate for a minimum of three hours.


Preheat your oven to 210 degrees Celsius (400 degrees Fahrenheit). Line up your chicken on broiler pan or a roasting pan (but not a baking pan otherwise you’ll be boiling your chicken). There needs to be air flow to allow even charring of the chicken and get that barbecue look.


Bake for 45 minutes uncovered and then flip over and broil the other side for a few minutes until nice and charred.


Let it rest for five minutes before serving. Tandoori chicken is best served with a tamarind chutney or an onion vinaigrette and fresh naan (a flatbread). I made this for my Muslim friends and they didn’t know much about pairings but according to the TV commercials, this pairs well with a 7-Up.




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