Easy Homemade Tandoori Chicken - Tandoori Chicken/Tandoori Murgh is something we have grown up on and a recipe my mum still makes quite a lot. With it’s signature red hue, this homemade delicious recipe will show you exactly how to make the most tender, juicy and flavourful Tandoori Chicken that tastes exactly like the ones you would get in a good Indian restuarant! Smoky flavour included. It is delicious served with a Coriander and Mint Chutney and very easy to make at home.
Tandoori Chicken is usually made in a tandoor - a cylindrical shaped clay oven.
The fuel used for cooking the food is charcoal or firewood which also adds its own smoky flavour to the food that is cooked in it. That is why the chicken cooked in it is called Tandoori Chicken.
But most people (including me) don’t have a Tandoor!
So how do we recreate tandoori chicken at home without it?
Read on to find out.
Easy Homemade Tandoori Chicken
The Chicken itself (usually skinless drumsticks/legs) is pierced all over, then marinaded in a spiced yoghurt sauce.
The Red hue that it is knows for, is achieved by using food colouring.
If you have reservations about using food colouring, using Kashmiri Chilli Powder will also add some red colour. It just won't be as intense.
Some people do a double marinade - the initial one being just salt, garlic ginger paste, chili powder, and lemon juice. This is done for 30 minutes before the main marinade is added. I skip this step because I don't feel it is necessary.
Below I talk through 3 methods to cook the Chicken and how to add the smoky flavour.
Ingredients in Tandoori Chicken
The ingredients here are simple and the actual recipe is even easier. A simple spiced yoghurt based marinade is basted onto the chicken and then baked in the oven. It is that easy!
I use Plain Yoghurt. This is used for 2 reasons - to tenderise the meat and to help the spices (mariande) cling to the chicken.
This helps to tenderise the Chicken but also adds a slight tang. You can add Lime Juice instead.
Mustard Oil is what is traditionally used but you can also use a Vegetable/Rapeseed/Olive/Corn Oil instead.
Ginger and Garlic
Fresh, Defrosted Frozen or a pre made Paste.
Turmeric, Sweet Paprika, Salt and Black Pepper, Cardamom Powder (Optional), Mace Powder (Optional), Coriander Powder and Cumin Powder. You can use Garam Masala instead of Mace and Caramom Powder.
Kashmiri Chilli Powder and Red Chilli Powder
I add some of each. The Kashmiri Chilli adds colour and the Red Chilli adds a slight heat.
Dry Fenugreek (Optional). Adds an earthiness.
You can also add a couple of tablespoons of Tandoori Powder. I do this but it can be skipped.
For basting whilst cooking to keep the chicken moist and flavourful.
How to Make Tandoori Chicken
There are several ways to make Tandoori Chicken - In the Oven, On the hob, In an Air Fryer, On a BBQ, On a Grill.
In this post, we cover - Hob, Oven and Air Fryer.
Make a few slashes in the Chicken.
Add the Chicken to bowl.
Add all the ingredients for the marinade into the bowl and use your hands to smother the marinade all over the Chicken.
Marinade for 2 - 3 hours.
To cook on the Stove Top
Add Oil to a pan.
Once hot, add the Chicken.
Cook on high for 3 minutes on each side.
Cover the pan.
Turn the heat right down and cook over low heat for 40 minutes or until cooked through.
Baste with butter and turn 2 - 3 times throughout the cooking time.
To cook in the Oven
Preheat the oven to 200 C.
Line a deep oven tray with foil.
Place the chicken on the tray.
Cook for 20 minutes.
Baste with melted Butter.
Turn the Chicken.
Place back in the oven and cook for 20 more minutes.
Baste with marinade and butter before serving.
At this stage, you can place it under the grill for 5 minutes to get the charred effect.
To Air Fry
Preheat the Air Fryer to 200 C.
Add the Chicken to the basket.
Cook for 15 minutes.
Baste with Butter.
Cook for a further 10 minutes.
Baste with more butter and marinade before serving.
How to add the signature Smoky Flavour
Heat a piece of Charcoal over a flame.
Once hot, add to a small dish and place that in the oven tray/pan/air fryer basket.
Add 1 - 2 tbsp Ghee or Oil.
Cover the dish with cling film, foil or a plate.
Leave for 5 - 7 minutes.
Uncover the bowl to let the smoke flavour the Chicken.
How to serve
This Chicken can be served as a side or starter to a meal like:
It can also be served as a main with:
Naan or Chapatti
Tandoori Chicken is best served fresh but it also keeps really well in the fridge/freezer.
The marinaded Chicken can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for 1 day before cooking using one of the methods mentioned above.
The cooked Chicken can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for 4 days.
The marinaded Chicken can be stored in an airtight container in the freezer for 4 months.
The cooked Chicken can be stored in an airtight container for 3 - 4 months.
To cook uncooked chicken from the Freezer
Place the Chicken in the freezer to thaw overnight. Then cook using one of the methods mentioned above.
To reheat cooked chicken from the Freezer
If you’re in a hurry, using the microwave to defrost the cooked chicken is always an option. Go with short increments and check it has warmed all the way through.
To reheat, place the chicken in a baking tray with high sides. Then, add 2 tablespoons of water along with any marinade.
Cover with foil and reheat until heated through at 200 C/Gas Mark 6. This can take anywhere between 20 - 40 minutes depending on the amount of Chicken.
Tips/Notes to make Tandoori Chicken
Use a Wire Rack - You can bake the Tandoori Chicken on a wire rack over an oven tray. What this does is helps the heat circulate around the Chicken. I don't do this myself but you can give it a try!
Easy Variation - If you are short on time you can use a Tandoori Paste or a powder mixed with Yoghurt instead.
Potatoes - Add peeled and quartered potatoes to the tray. It is best to parboil them first for 10 minutes.
How to make a Tandoori traybake with Potatoes
Follow the marinade recipe as above for the Chicken.
Cut 6 Potatoes into quarters and boil for 10 minutes.
Place on a tray, add the Chicken on top and cook as per the recipe.
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Easy Homemade Tandoori Chicken
- 1 Kg Chicken Drumsticks Skinless
- 2 tbsp Oil Mustard, Veg, Corn, Rapeseed, Olive
- 1 tbsp Garlic Paste
- 1 tbsp Ginger Paste
- 225 g Plain Yoghurt
- 2 tbsp Lemon Juice
- ½ tsp Coriander Powder
- 1 ½ tsp Cumin Powder
- 1 ½ tsp Kashmiri Chilli Powder
- 1 tsp Red Chilli Powder Mild, Optional
- ¾ tsp Smoked or Sweer Paprika Optional
- ½ tsp Turmeric Powder
- 1 - 2 tsp Salt
- ½ tsp Ground Black Pepper
- 2 tbsp Tandoori Powder Optional
- ¼ tsp Mace Powder Optional
- ¼ tsp Cardamom Powder Optional
- 1 tsp Kasuri Methi Optional - Dry fenugreek leaves
- A few drops Red Colour Powdered (mixed with a little water) or Gel, Optional
- 3 tbsp Butter Melted
- Make a few slashes in the Chicken.
- Add the Chicken to bowl. Add all the ingredients for the marinade into the bowl and use your hands to smother the marinade all over the Chicken.
- Marinade for 2 - 3 hours.
- Preheat the oven to 200 C.
- Line a deep oven tray with foil. Place the chicken on the tray. Cook for 20 minutes.
- Baste with melted Butter.
- Turn the Chicken. Place back in the oven and cook for 20 more minutes.
- Baste with marinade and butter before serving.
- At this stage, you can place it under the grill for 5 minutes to get the charred effect.
- Heat a piece of Charcoal over a flame. Once hot, add to a small dish and place that in the oven tray/pan/air fryer basket. Add 1 - 2 tbsp Ghee or Oil. Cover the dish with cling film, foil or a plate. Leave for 5 - 7 minutes. Uncover the bowl to let the smoke flavour the Chicken.