Case of the Mystery Chicken Solved: Tandoori Chicken

Remember how I mentioned that I bought a whole chicken and couldn’t remember what I had planned to make with it?  Well, it hit me (two days later, but still).

Tandoori Chicken.


Tandoori chicken! Of course! You’d be hard pressed to find an Indian restaurant without this on the menu, so why should mine be any different?

Tandoori chicken came about in the 1920s as the result of a restaurateur’s experiment, using the traditional tandoor clay oven to cook chicken rather than the traditional flat breads we know and love.  These ovens, fueled with wood or charcoal can reach up to 900 degrees (Celsius, I assume?), resulting in chicken that was crispy on the outside and juicy on the inside.


Times have changed and in my experience tandoor chicken always seems rather dry. However, I’ve always loved the flavor and was admittedly excited to take a break from the heavier curries and stewy dishes of late (which, make no mistake, I’ve been loving).  Served with a simple onion salad atop some greens, this fit the bill perfectly.

One note: My chicken came out all kinds of tasty and succulent, probably because my metal oven does not reach 900 C and retains the moisture at 350F. However, you will notice the color to be a tad off. Why? Well, the original recipe actually calls for food coloring. FOOD COLORING! Sorry, but unless I’m decorating cupcakes, I’ll be damned if I add food coloring to anything in my kitchen.  So while the color is off, the taste is not.


Nature’s food coloring

I also used goat yogurt in the marinade. You can obviously use any plain yogurt you fancy and if you’re non-dairy…I haven’t experimented with that yet. If I had not been able to find the goat yogurt, I think I would have opted for full fat coconut milk or coconut cream.  Just a suggestion.

Serves 4-6

Recipe adapted from The Essential Asian Cookbook


6 chicken pieces (I used a combo of thighs, legs and breasts)

¼ cup lemon juice

½ cup yellow onion, chopped

4 cloves garlic

1 TB ginger, grated

1 TB coriander seeds

1 TB cumin seeds

1 TB lemon juice, extra

1 tsp salt

½ tsp smoked paprika

½ tsp chili powder

1 cup yogurt (I used goat)

Onion salad, to serve

Rice, to serve, if you are into that


1. Remove the skin from the chicken and brush with lemon juice. Let marinate 15 minutes.

2.  Place the onion, garlic, ginger, seeds, extra lemon juice and salt in a blender or food processor and puree until a smooth paste is formed.  Combine the paste with the paprika, chili powder and yogurt and mix until smooth.

3.  Place the chicken in a large shallow bowl and slather with the marinade.  Cover and refrigerate at least 4 hours, preferably overnight.

4.  Preheat the oven to 350F.  Place the chicken on a wire rack over a baking dish and bake for 45 minutes until chicken is cooked through.


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