If you are a person who loves getting takeout from your favorite Indian restaurant, this recipe is for you! My husband and I order out Indian food AT LEAST once a month, but that can get so expensive so I’ve been working on recipes for dishes that we love that we can easily make at home. This whole tandoori-style chicken is so easy and delicious! It may not be authentic (I would never claim that as I have no Indian heritage in my background!), but it’s a delicious and simple weeknight meal packed with flavor. I love serving it with raita (yogurt sauce), steamed basmati rice, naan bread, cilantro, sliced onions, and cucumber!
What is tandoori chicken?
Tandoori chicken is a dish that originates in India (more on that in a sec) where a chicken is marinated in yogurt and spices and roasted in a cylindrical clay oven known as a tandoor. It originated in the Punjab region of India (Northern India/Eastern Pakistan) way before the partition of India in 1947. In 1947, after the dissolution of British India, the Punjab region was divided into two territories where one side is part of Pakistan and the other part of India. It is now its own state, the Punjab State in northern India. It’s important for me to share this information because I am not a person who is Indian. I draw inspiration from the culture and traditional dish, but this is simply my version adapted for the American home cook and don’t claim for it to be authentic.
What is spatchcock chicken?
A spatchcock chicken is a chicken where the backbone has been removed prior to cooking. Doing so causes the bird to lay flat and thus everything cooks at the same rate! Aka, no more dry white meat! Cooking in this manner also reduces the cooking time drastically and helps you get dinner on the table faster with less effort. What a win-win, amiright? You can read more about it here. Below is a quick video on how to do it, turn the sound on while I walk you through it!
What tools do you need to spatchcock a chicken?
Just one! A good pair of KITCHEN SHEARS. This is the pair of poultry shears I have and I love them! They cut through skin and bone with no issues and don’t slip in my hands when I’m trying to make tough cuts. A good pair of poultry shears don’t have to set you back tons of money! Do you need to use shears? No… but your life will be much easier if you do. You can use a sharp chef’s knife, but I find it to be much more dangerous.
Where can I find the spices listed in the recipe?
Most grocery stores will carry these spices! Check the bulk-spice section of your grocery store if it has one–you’ll be able to purchase a small amount of each spice vs. buying a whole bottle that will sit in your pantry.
I don’t like spicy food, can I omit the serrano?
Yes! If you aren’t a fan of spicy food you can omit the serrano though I will say that the yogurt really helps cool the spice level down.
Why is tandoori chicken red?
Great question! When you order tandoori chicken at a restaurant, it’s usually bright red. A lot of restaurants use red food coloring to give it that color, but when you use high-quality Indian chili powder, you’ll be able to achieve that color without artificial means. The chili powder is called Kashmiri chili powder and it has a super brilliant red hue. It’s made with dried Kashmiri chilies which are mildly spiced but packed with flavor. You can see how red my tandoori chicken turned out and no food coloring was used! You can find it at Asian markets, Indian markets, Middle Eastern markets, or Amazon here.
What can I substitute Kashmiri chili powder with?
I don’t recommend substituting it. It’s part of what makes this recipe tandoori chicken and adds a lot to it. That being said, you can use brilliant colored paprika with a bit of cayenne pepper. Aka, find a paprika with lots of pigmentation (not McCormicks).
Raita is a yogurt-based sauce common in South Asian cuisine. Recipes vary between regions and families, but the base is always the same. It’s a delicious, cooling condiment and is so good with the tandoori chicken.
Any other questions about Tandoori Chicken? Drop them in the comments below!
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1 3-4lb whole chicken, spatchcocked, innards discarded (see above tutorial)
3/4 cup full-fat yogurt or greek yogurt
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger root
1/2 serrano pepper, sliced
1 tablespoon tomato paste
2 tablespoons Indian chili powder (see above)
2 teaspoons garam masala
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 lemon, juiced
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 cup full-fat yogurt
1/3 cup whole milk
1 persian cucumber, grated
1/2 serrano pepper, thinly sliced
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
1/4 teaspoon dried mint
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon lime juice
steamed basmati rice
sliced red onion
- Using a paper towel, pat your chicken very dry all over and set it on a wire rack set over a rimmed baking sheet.
- In a food processor or blender, combine the remaining ingredients for the tandoori chicken and pulse until the mixture is smooth and well-combined. Spread the mixture all over the chicken (on both sides) until it’s completely coated. Place in the refrigerator (on the baking sheet) uncovered for 4-8 hours.
- Preheat an oven to 425 degrees F. Remove the chicken from the fridge and place it in the oven. Roast for 50 minutes or until a thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh registers 165 degrees F on a probe thermometer. Allow the chicken to rest for 10 minutes before cutting up and serving.
- To make the raita: combine all the ingredients in a small bowl and stir until well combined. Store in an airtight container in the fridge until ready to use.