The bright colours and charred flavour of tandoori chicken has made it a favourite in Indian households. You’ll see it in virtually every Indian restaurant and no celebration is complete without it. This was a meal that our entire family would look forward to, as we drooled with anticipation of what was to soon come. I would get so excited when I open the fridge to see the chicken marinating, awaiting its fate in our oven, and eventually my stomach. The spices stained our fingertips as we ate and the juices dripped down our chin. It was glorious!
Tandoori chicken is marinated in a blend of spices (known as tandoori masala), along with yogurt, ginger, garlic and lemon before cooking it in the traditional “tandoor” oven. A tandoor oven is an outdoor clay oven that reaches extremely hot temperatures to give a charred and deep flavour to your food. If you’re like me, and most people, you don’t have a tandoor oven hanging around for an occasion such as this. An oven or BBQ grill will do just fine!
The tandoori masala is an important blend of spices used in many Indian dishes. It gives a spicy, smoky and aromatic flavour to your food. It can be bought at most grocery stores down the spice aisle or ethnic foods aisle, though I prefer to make my own blend – it’s incredibly easy to make and requires only a few simple ingredients. If you’ve seen my Guide to Indian Spices post, you’ll already be familiar with the spices in the following recipe. Most of these spices will already be on your spice rack or in your cupboard.
This tandoori masala is an easy and awesome way to incorporate Indian flavours into your kitchen routine. Marinate your seafood, fish, vegetables or paneer (Indian cheese) in this masala before cooking to spice up your meals.
For the tandoori masala:
- 3 tsp cumin powder
- 3 tsp coriander powder
- 2 tsp turmeric powder
- 2 tsp chili powder
- 2 tbsp sweet paprika (for colour)
- 2 tsp cinnamon powder
- 4 cardamom pods - seeds removed and ground
- Combine all spices together in a bowl. Keep in an airtight jar to maintain freshness.
To make the tandoori chicken, it requires only a few simple steps. Marinate the chicken overnight to infuse the spices, garlic and ginger. Baking in high heat before broiling the chicken keeps it moist and juicy inside, while charred and spicy on the outside. Serve with lemon wedges and red onion, or mint chutney and yogurt for a refreshing flavour.
- 8-10 chicken drumsticks
- 2 tbsp lemon juice
- 1 tsp ginger paste
- 1 tsp garlic paste
- 1 tsp chilli powder
- salt to taste
- 1 cup plain yogurt (or greek yogurt)
- 4 tsp tandoori masala
- 1 tsp garam masala
- cilantro and lemon wedges for garnish
- *if you prefer the chicken to be a bright red colour, and a few drops of red colouring into the marinade*
- Place the drumsticks in a large bowl. Add lemon juice, garlic/ginger paste, chilli powder and salt. Mix everything together and place in the fridge to marinate for 1 hour.
- Take the marinated drumsticks and place in another bowl with tandoori masala, garam masala and yogurt. Marinate for 1 hour.
- Preheat oven to 450F. Place drumsticks on a grilling rack and bake until cooked through, approx. 20 minutes, flipping the drumsticks at the 10 minute mark.
- Switch over to broiler and cook for another 3 mins on each side or until slightly charred.
- Place on serving platter. Sprinkle lemon juice over top and garnish with cilantro, lemon wedges and red onion.